How I Use It
I taught my students how to use this tool once, and now whenever we use it, they don't have any questions about finding or navigating through the website. I'd like to share my two most valuable experiences with this tool.
The first way I used this tool was to have my 4th grade students create social situation comic strips of cyber-bullying scenarios. I set up the assignment so that one frame would show the infraction, one frame would show the victim's response (telling an adult), and the last frame would show how the situation got resolved. Makebeliefscomix includes many options for characters and props that involve phones or computers, so students felt successful at having the right kinds of graphics to include in their scenes. We found that there was a great variety of characters/faces/backgrounds, and that students could really find essentially everything they needed to convey the emotions felt by the people in their scenarios.
I ended up printing out each student's comic strip, and they all colored them in. I published them all in a classroom newspaper as a cyberbullying comic book. Students loved reading the situations that other students had created, and it was actually taken very seriously. I was impressed that students didn't let the "comic" idea lead them to create silly or crazy scenarios. Rather, they worked diligently and completed the assignment with seriousness (even though it was fun!!!)
Another time I used makebeliefscomix was for Grandparent's day. I had the students teach their grandparents how to use the tool, and I got to see just how well my students understood it! They created comic strips that showed a favorite memory of them with their grandparents, and they included speech bubbles to show what was happening. I had students print, color, and give these as gifts to their grandparents. We all loved how easy it was to create such a fine end product. It took about 15-20 minutes to complete the entire activity both times we did it.
This tool is amazing! Most of the time, when you think of comic strips, you think of simply fun and games, or even of mildly inappropriate humor. However, the comic characters and props available for students to use are appropriate and help to foster imagination and character development. I found the website extremely easy to use, and the students were able to figure out how to drag-and-drop, how to create various sizes of speech bubbles, and how to change the number of frames in their comic strip. I spent very little time troubleshooting or explaining how to use the website. Students were able to email their strips to me, or print them out with ease.