How I Use It
Comic Life can be used an evaluative tool to gauge student understanding of a concept after it has been learned. For example, students can create an assessment by taking digital photos outside of examples in nature that exemplify weathering versus erosion. Using a rubric, teachers can evaluate the created comic as they would any writing assessment, but including a measure for visuals.
The only caveat with my fourth grader original creations involved speech bubbles that were included on the student-drawn illustrations. Once the image file was uploaded, they had to strategically place the digital speech bubble on top of the original and they did not always fit well. Next time, I will advise them not to add the dialogue or narration until the files are in the digital panels. It just looks more like a "real" comic that way.
I used Comic Life with a group of fourth grade English learners as an extension of traditional narrative writing. It was already loaded on our Mac laptops, so I am unaware of the cost. Now that I no longer have it, I see how much more flexibility it offered in creativity. Comic Life allows students to create a story using templates and insert images from the web or their own files. The latter is how we used it after drawing our own comics, we uploaded the jpg files and merely dropped and dragged to the panel of their choice. I have found that other software is limited to pre-made animation choices. Some students like creating their own drawings, particularly fans of manga and want to create a story around their original work. It is precisely this feature (the use of student generated images, either from camera phones, digital cameras or the web) that distinguishes this program from others that I use. I have also used this program with fifth grade students in science to illustrate conceptual understanding in a non-linguistic form. This is helpful for struggling writers and students who prefer visual demonstration of what they have learned.