If you are an Ontario Educator and you have not yet signed up for your free full-fledged membership to Bitstrips for Schools you might be missing out on an incredible opportunity. Many of your students certainly are. Bitstrips for Schools is an online comic strip generator intended for use as a writing tool. On many Blogs it is billed as the way to “motivate boy writers.” Certainly there is an aspect to this program that would speak to some “hard to motivate” writers and yes many may be boys. This software however is great across the board. Homework can be assigned in any subject and students will run home to get online and complete the tasks that you set up (or you could use the many templates that are included with membership). How do I know this? Have you ever played Wii? The best part of the entire experience is creating your Mii. This is the digital, cartoon representation of yourself. Last Christmas the Cowpernicus family spent about 2 hours making Grandpa! Bitstrips asks every user to first create their avatar. After this creation the process of making comic strips begins.
I want to know the technology and understand its use for my teachers so I embarked on a little experiment. I created an online classroom for the school’s Learning Council or Professional Learning Team. The team consists of a Learning Support Teacher, A Literacy /Numeracy Coach, an Admin-VP, Early Years, Primary. Junior, and Intermediate Teacher Leaders, The school secretary and me. As the facilitator I assigned two tasks or activities so far. 1. Create your avatar and place them in a comic about your life. 2. Create a comic about the worst aspect of a traditional Professional Learning Experience. Here is mine:
A teacher wrote to me in an email–“I logged on to Bitstrips tonight and created a class. I am starting tomorrow. This rocks! Thanks for the idea…” I have two teachers using this web 2.0 with classes and I am using it with a group of 9 adults. My experiment is a risk. Some of my students (adults) may not find the process worthwhile. Some may love it. For me it has been fun. It is a completely different form of P.L. Hopefully it is not the topic of any of the comics generated for activity number 2 though! I will keep you posted about my experience and results.