How I Use It
Bitstrips for Schools is a subscription based web-based comic creator designed for educational settings using the creator tools from the Bitstrips site. Our school uses this tool with students from Grade 2 to 12. Each teacher creates a class using a list (Cut and Paste from an attendance list worked well) and then invites students to sign in to the specific class using a code. Creating a avatar is a fun introduction to the software. Recently, we use the software with Grade Four students to adapt a scene from shared novel study into a comic format. We were particularly interested in how we might use the characters, scenes and situations to represent (and in some cases infer) the feelings, moods or motivations of characters, I would suggest allowing students of any age the option to create a comic to learn the software BEFORE any assessment occurs. This period of exploration is easily facilitated through a number of activities from the gallery (sorted by age, stage and subject.) We used one called "Body Language" which worked well as an introductory task to our novel adaptation activity with Grade Four. Creating an activity is straightforward and when shared students will be prompted to take the assignment when they login to their account. Our instruction included a exemplar, links to videos, links to rubric and other documents as Google docs. This worked well but I found myself sharing an an account with a homeroom teacher so the option to have co-teachers would be helpful.
Bitstrips is should be included in collection of excellent sites that allow students to develop 21st century fluencies through creating, collaborating and sharing. Using the activities option is very helpful for assessing students as they can "hand in" when ready and the teacher can "handback" through comments as formative assessment. When complete, comics can be added to an optional class gallery. The class gallery and other class permissions should be carefully considered when implementing this tool. We decided to turn off class comments, and initially the ability to create and share characters and comics privately as well as the optional upload pictures downloaded from the internet. We then shared and toggled on some of these options for peer review with specific criteria and this process became a good opportunity to discuss commenting and digital citizenship. The collaborative options (sharing a comic) are good but only one user can edit at a time. Some room for improvement but certainly some potential for shared projects and ideas.