Posts Tagged ‘pixton’

Here’s the rest of my inventory for 2011 – not really exhaustive (although quite exhausting to read back over) but I’ll keep updating as I can…

Year 10 – mixed to high ability

  • Magazine production – students put into groups of five, editor assigned, content expectations outlined.  Editors assigned tasks based on what students had already completed in class and individual strengths.  Pre teaching of feature writing, content pages, visual and verbal features, cover design, language of advertising, target audience all formed part of this unit of work.  I also secured a class set of North and South Magazine’s November 2011 issue which enabled us to study a great feature article on Shirley Boys’ High Principal John Laurenson together. Final product created on publisher – they enjoyed this.
  • Apirana Taylor – before Apirana visited school we studied several of his poems together and spent a fair bit of time on the poem Parihaka. This included viewing the kinetic typography version as well as clips about the event
  • Poetry – test knowledge of poetic techniques and devices here.
  • Speeches – as an intro we watched Mel Gibson rallying the troops in Brave Heart, Robert De Niro’s moving If You Prick Us… speech from The Merchant of Venice (they studied the play too), Obama’s Yes We Can, MLK’s I have a Dream and this one: The Girl Who Silenced the UN
  • SlideShare – love this site for finding powerpoints to accompany lessons, found a good one on static images and another on some of the issues featured in the film Slumdog Millionaire – students picked an issue, researched the topic and wrote a report.  Lots of pre-teaching about authenticity of websites, citing information first.
  • Letter to Editor – yes they still do this (not sure how many read newspapers though). The video helped – I embedded it on my wiki so they could watch at home too.

Year 11 – literacy class

  • Powerpoint – as a task for 1.11, we watched the movie Boy. Students then created a powerpoint explaining 4 film techniques and linking them to a theme. I went here first with them as not all were sure about ppt. Some found the American accent a bit…hilarious/distracting.
  • Intro to Film Techniques – a colleague put me onto three NZ short films on YouTube.  Used these as a resources for film techniques.  Deconstructed one together, one in groups and one on their own.  Created a cloze version for some to complete.
  • Poetry – they loved Hone Tuwhare’s poems put to Kinetic typography – especially Drunk
  • Careers Quest in collaboration with the Careers Department, students completed the online survey, recorded answers in a booklet, researched their top options, went to discuss them with the Careers Advisor and then wrote and presented a small group seminar for 1.6.  This worked well because the lesser able students used the task to gain writing and speaking credits while the more able went on to complete 1.6.  Without expection all responded to the real life connections associated with this task – the WIIFM was obvious. Having said that, I ended up doing a lot of pre-teaching about minimum pay rates, tax rates, cost of living etc as they had no idea about such matters. A bit of an eye opener for us all!

Year 12 – mixed ability

  • Lord of the Flies – watched this clip about the holocaust as a rather sobering starter – tricky with German students in the class but led to some really good discussion about context and the author’s intention.
  • Poetry – watched background documentaries on Sam Hunt and Hone Tuwhare at www.nzonscreen.com to get a handle on who and what influenced these NZ poets.  Also prior to exams, we studied Denise Levertov’s What Were They Like? with the help of two very good online tutorials.
  • Macbeth – posted a range of sites on my wiki including close viewing key scenes, testing themselves at BBC Skillwise, and looking at modern translations of hard to “get” scenes.  Having English Period 5 on Friday is no excuse not to work – it is 25% of the year’s course after all. But I did choose a Friday class to let them have a go at presenting a scene from Macbeth using modern English or Shakespeare’s English using Pixton, an online comic strip creator. This is no longer free so I just set up a 30 day trial classroom. It took ages for everyone to log in and get sorted and we really needed more than one session but a couple of students created some really good strips.

Everyone and Anyone

As mentioned I used a class wiki throughout the year with varying degrees of success depending on the class the individual students . I also used survey monkey to ask each class 20 questions about their learning experience. You can create 10 questions free so I did mine in two lots and sent each student via their school account (although my Year 12s prefered to use their personal accounts) the hyperlinks. The results were really interesting – the wiki got some great comments while one student lamented the lack of greenery in my classroom, suggesting a Peace Lily could have aided his learning experience 🙂 Gotta love them.

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Comics are not a new phenomenon.  What is new, for me at least, is our ability as educators to incorporate comics into lessons through a range of free, easy to use on-line tools.

But first up the age-old question…why would you? Here are the main pluses I’ve gleaned:

  • Comics are fun – most kids will get a kick out of creating one
  • They are motivational
  • Comics cater for multiple intelligences – so visual learners have the chance to shine and engage
  • Comics can help explain difficult concepts – they’re a good way to break information down
  • Learning is placed in the hands of the students  – through the concept of visual permanence i.e. comics are not time bound
  • Comic/poster creation promotes deep level thinking – students have to process key concept to represent them

You can create your own comics through a range of sites including comic life, pixton and possibly others or try glogster for online poster creation.  They all operate around similar processes which allow you to use templates to build your own work from through to uploading your own images and creating from there.

I had a go with Pixton today. It took me about 30 minutes to create a basic strip based on a scene from Macbeth.   I created two identical versions using the same characters but altering the text so that one features Shakespeare’s language and the second uses the modern equivalent.

You could do this for key scenes to help build students’ confidence when starting out with Shakespeare (the language is a common stumbling block to uderstanding Shakespeare’s work), and then get students to create their own to help them remember key speeches. The results could be displayed on a wall in your classroom so that students can view a range of work and process several key scenes. Hopefully this might increase the chances of them recalling those key scenes and dialogue in exam conditions.  This exercise could also help generate discussion about the narrative and lead to deeper understanding of the plot.  If time allowed you could even get them to create alternative endings to key scenes…the mind boggles at where that could go…

Other ways you might incorporate comic-based activities into your lessons are:

  • For timelines
  • Instructions
  • Dialogue punctuation
  • Character analysis
  • Story telling
  • Pre writing tool
  • Post reading tool
  • Teaching language techniques etc

I should add this does not require high level graphic design skills (obviously)! All I did was create an account on Pixton, go to create, then quickie where I selected a layout and some characters. From there you simply click and drag your text in, change backgrounds, colour schemes etc. What could be simpler?!

Visit this link to hear English teacher Sue Tapp share her experiences of using comic life in the classroom… 

…. and here for what the fabulous Suzie Vesper has to say.

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