Using comic strips

This is the 8th entry in a series on ‘putting the fun back into fundamental learning’.

Although some people may not take the medium of the comic strip seriously, comics are a very powerful medium of communication, and are used by people of all ages for political, satirical and explanatory reasons, as well as for simple humor.

We as educators can use comic strips, to explain or highlight an issue, or better still, we can get the learners to create their own. I have seen examples in Modern Foreign Languages where the learners get to grips with different grammatical elements by creating comic strips. In history we can recreate significant events through creating comics, or even create higher order thinking activities by asking the students to imagine a meeting between people from different eras e.g. what if Napoleon and Hitler had met? – how may a conversation have followed?

There are many free comic creating options available. 2 free examples are:-

ToonDoo, which has a really good clipart gallery and is really easy to manipulate the images. You can then export the result, or embed the output into a VLE, blog or similar e.g.

Plagiarism

Another option is Stripcreator has less options than ToonDoo so is simpler to learn and use, but has less output options. An example (not created by me) can be viewed at http://www.stripcreator.com/comics/wirthling/37299

Or we can simply use the basic features of something like PowerPoint (with its array of clipart and the ability to easily import other images) to create comic strips, the advantage of this is that the students can then use some simple animations to get the speech bubbles to appear in sequence, or for characters to move around, get bigger, blow up etc. To make live easier you could create a Comic template within PowerPoint – which is something that Champagne Design have done on their blog, including a template that you can download and use.

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Using technology to create paper based games

This is the 7th entry in a series on ‘putting the fun back into fundamental learning’.

As a lecturer, I quickly identified that traditional ‘chalk and talk’ was not an effective method of teaching especially for someone like me with a monotonic voice and really bad hand writing. It was this that guided me into the area of using technology in my teaching, but I also looked at different ways of creating little activities to do, and over the years I produced dozens of non technological resources out of card, paper, wood and laminated sheets.

Most of these were very bespoke to a particular topic, but 2 of my ideas are transferable to other areas.

The first I have called ‘multi-choice’ patience, The tutor enters 36 multi-choice questions and the answers into an Excel grid, which then converts these into a 36 card activity, where you pick a card out of the pack, answer the question, then choose the card identified by the answer. You keep doing this until you have answered 6 questions, if you have all 6 questions correct, then the 6th card should point back to the first card in that set. You then pick another card and try to complete the next set of 6 cards.

Multi choice patience

Screenshot of the multi-choice patience activity

The difficult part of this is thinking of the 36 questions, but once they are created, very easy to print out the cards, cut them up (and laminate if used more than once).

The template can be found at http://www.a6training.co.uk/resources/MultipleChoicePatience.xls with the worked example (anatomy and physiology based) being http://www.a6training.co.uk/resources/MultipleChoicePatienceEXAMPLE.xls

The second activity that I created is ‘Buzz word bingo’, and was originally for myself and colleagues to use at boring meetings, to make them more interesting, but they can be easily used in a teaching and learning situation.

All you need to do is add a list of buzz words (which could be the answers to questions) into an Excel grid. This will then convert these into different bingo cards of different sizes, which you print out, cut up and give to the learners. Very easy to do especially as an end of topic revision activity, or something to do in that last week before Christmas.

Buzz Word Bingo

Buzz Word Bingo

Buzz Word Bingo can be found at http://www.a6training.co.uk/resources/BuzzWordBingoGenerator.xls

All of the resources listed here can be found at http://www.a6training.co.uk/resources_class_management.php which also contains links to resources that can be used to split classes up into random groups, and allocate topics to students.