How I Use It
The new version, Comic Life 3, is an even more versatile tool for teaching and learning. With younger students, I use it to help students publish stories. There are a variety of templates that students can chose from, which allow K-2 students to create and publish simple, yet powerful stories. They take pictures using photo booth, then they slide the pictures into the pre-made template and add a sentence or two and some speech bubbles. In a few simple steps, these primary writers become published authors! They have created personal narratives such as "My Friends," or "My Family." They have created non-fiction how-to stories using templates with numbered directions and animal reports published in a newspaper-style article. They have also created fiction stories about aliens and skeletons using the effects on photo booth to create alien or X-ray pictures and sliding it into a template that is nearly all black that can give their pictures a spooky atmosphere or the illusion of space. I have had 6th graders use Comic Life 3 as a teaching tool for other students to learn from. They found pictures on the internet that allowed for great inferencing opportunities, and students added speech bubbles to illustrate what characters were thinking. They also used pictures and speech bubbles to make hyperboles, similes, metaphors, etc. We used those as examples to teach other students what those strategies or literary elements were. I also used Comic Life 3 to create a how-to user guide for programs that had multi step directions. The possibilities are endless! It is a paid program, but we have a district license in my area, and there are many school districts that do. I think it is worth it!
In terms of pedagogy, I believe that building a deep understanding vs.a superficial survey of content is dependent on the craft of teaching, and the program you use is just a tool to get you there. Comic Life 3 is no different. If you set students up with a project that has an expectation of deep understanding and higher level thinking, this can be a vehicle to get you there. If you do not set up expectations for applying higher level thinking, they'll play with it just for fun. It's very engaging, so it has the potential to really hit the mark as a tool for creativity in communication.