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Review by Erin Brereton, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2013

Bitstrips for Schools

Safe site where students can make and share easy-to-create comics

Common Sense Says:
Teachers Say (6 Reviews):
5
Grades
6-8 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
See subjects & skills

Pros: It's easy for artistic kids, as well as those who don’t like drawing, to practice self-expression and communication.

Cons: Some artistically inclined students may wish for more creative freedom than the program's simple tools provide.

Bottom Line: Teachers can easily assign comic-making activities for kids with varying artistic ability.

The Bitstrips for Schools activity lists make it very easy for teachers to use the site. Once you've set up a Bitstrips for Schools space for your class, you'll be able to send Bitstrips assignments to your students within minutes. Students can even comment on the lesson or ask questions, and teachers can respond to them individually. 

Activity ideas for teachers include numerous subject areas: English, math, science, history, social studies, civics, business/law, health, and art. Teachers will also find information on anti-bullying activities, as well as suggestions for using Bitstrips for Schools in non-mainstream settings, such as an ELL or special education classroom. Each activity is labeled with tags that identify the types of skills kids can learn.

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Editor's Note: Bitstrips is no longer available, but the developer now makes a new product, Bitmoji.

Kids can use Bitstrips to create cartoon versions of themselves (or fictional characters) and integrate the characters into shareable online comic strips. Bitstrips for Schools is an education-based version of the original site where teachers can create a virtual classroom, add students, and encourage them to make comics. The educator's version is more private and safe than the original; students join using a class name (with a code) distributed by their teacher. To make things even more secure, teachers can opt to view and moderate student-created comics before they’re shared with the class.

The Bitstrips for Schools site has activity ideas for more than a dozen subject areas, including English, social studies, history, and math, just to name a few. Teachers can directly assign these activities to students with just a few clicks. Alternately, teachers can reword the instructions if they want to customize the lesson. The site gives students detailed instructions as they get started.

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Both Bitstrips and Bitstrips for Schools provide a self-guided but somewhat structured experience that can help kids who are creative, even if they aren't as talented in digital art and design. In short, students don’t need drawing experience to use the site, yet they can create some great-looking comics, which is a big plus.

Students can customize comics with different design templates, including characters' face shapes, different frame layouts, pre-loaded backgrounds, and lots of other visual elements. Overall, the site keeps the creation simple, and sharing comics is easy. Unlike its consumer counterpart, Bitstrips for Schools restricts the overall viewer base to just fellow classmates. Students control with whom they share and from whom they'll allow comments. The site can be a fun way for students to get practice with narrative structure, communication skills, or even fun projects. It's yet another engaging way for kids to create or present what they've learned.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

Bitstrips for Schools gives students a fun, simple way to create comic strips. Because it doesn't require drawing or illustrating skills, the site is accessible and enjoyable.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
3

Kids can practice storytelling, learn about narrative structure, and express themselves with easy-to-create digital comics. While some of the activity ideas are quite clever, teachers would do best to bring their own creativity in using the site.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

The site keeps things basic, and therefore it's very user-friendly. It's easy for students to get feedback from classmates in a safe way, if teachers act as moderators.


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