When people talk about stories from their college years, they look back fondly about who they were and what they did.
For me… I was the guy who played offensive line on the football team but also collected comic books.
Now even farther back as a kid, I read comic books, wanted to get those X-Ray specs advertised on the last page and liked watching Super Friends (except those Wonder Twins! What was that all about? “Form of Water!” that is NOT a super power I can get into).
But it wasn’t until Tim Burton’s Batman came out that my interest in superheroes and comic books really took off.
My brother and I first focused on all things Batman and then my interest expanded to other superheroes like Green Arrow and the Flash.
So, fast forward to college in Reno, Nevada and I’m playing O-Line for the Wolf Pack and my comic book collection grew as I moved from dorms to apartments during these years. Although I was often picked on by many of the guys on the team, I got to tell you that on game day when we had several hours of down time before the game to “get focused”, I would always have guys coming to me asking “hey, you got any good ones in your backpack I could read right now”?
Oh, my go to for the comic book novice was (and still is) The Killing Joke. It’s a Joker backstory and is a classic. Check it out!
Speaking of backstory, why am I writing all this about comic books on my Ed Tech blog. Well, even though I stop collecting back in my 20’s I still love comic books. And, this summer I thought of a fun and engaging lesson which students could do where they would CREATE their own comic book.
STEP ONE: PRIMSA
My inspiration of this was based on the new app which I discovered this summer called Prisma. This app (both iOS and Android) is reminiscent to the filters we all are accustomed to in Instagram and others. But to be honest, I DON’T LIKE FILTERS. I think they take more away from a photo than add to it. But WOW! Prisma is not really a filter; it is more like it redraws your photos to different artistic styles.
STEP TWO: YOUR PHOTOS
Like I said, it was summer and I was engaged in lots of summer time family vacations and as I was checking out this app I used my family summer photos to test it out. There was one photo of I “Prismad” which gave me pause. It was of my daughter pretending to be a zombie and attacking me at the Walking Dead experience in Universal Studios (which by the way was FANTASTIC!) Here is that picture:
Fans of the Walking Dead series, like myself, are aware that the show is actually based on a hugely successful comic book series. So now here I am looking at this pic once redrawn in Prisma and making the connection that “wow, this would be a cool comic book cover” or even better yet, “how about an entire comic about our vacation to Southern California”?
When you and your students start thinking about their comic books you should really think focus on this part question first: “what images are we going to use”? You can use your own existing images, find some on the web, or you can stage new ones. All this is based on your project. Here’s some examples:
• If you want to make a Rome & Juliet comic book, you can have kids pose in some of acts from the story and take photos.
• Do a “Back to School Night” comic book with your students posing with and taking photos of different parts of your school. Then put it together as a parent guide to your school
• Have kids act out parts of someone’s life as they create comic book biography
STEP THREE: GOOGLE SLIDES (or PowerPoint)
After putting the Prisma effect on my chosen pictures from the trip (oh, btw…. I recommend using the SAME style for all your pictures. Don’t jump around as this style will give a consistent theme to your comic book) the next step is to layout all their images in a storyboard.
You can do this in various ways, but in this lesson I would have them use Slides or PowerPoint. This is because most students are already familiar with the program and they will learn new ways to use the program.
Just how the pictures will be put onto the page is up to the one creating the comic book. They could put 6 images or just one. I would recommend looking at some comic book layout examples to get an idea, like these:
Before you begin dropping in images you must change the orientation. By flipping the orientation from landscape to portrait will give it much more of a look like a classic comic book.
Once your images are inserted, you will may need to edit them in order to make them fit. I recommend getting comfortable with the CROP tool.
You will also need to add text to help tell the story. Here is a simple guide to text in comic books:
STEP FOUR: THE GRAVY
Any good Thanksgiving dinner is not complete until you put on the gravy. This is the finishing touch to a great meal. So, do the same for this project. Spice up your cover!
Instead of gravy, accessorize your cover with add-ons like a title, author, comic book company logo, price, Here are a few which you can download:
STEP FIVE: PRINT
Yes, even though this is digital project there is something pretty cool about seeing the final product in print. So why not take the final step and have this printed on nice quality paper, preferably on back to back, and then staple it to make complete the book.
Below is my first attempt at this with my Summer Vacation comic book. Feel free to open it up in Google Slides here then go to FILE and MAKE A COPY, if you would like to use mine as a guide.
Thanks for taking the time to check out this lesson idea. If you end up making one of these yourself or with you students please share back with your final comic books.
One of my favorite apps for the iPad has got to be Green Screen by Do Ink. This post will share some ideas which I hope you may be able to share with your students or other teachers.
[Here comes the historical background section of this post]
My past with Green Screen goes back quite a few years ago to a conference when I saw Hall Davidson speak. I had heard of green and blue screen chroma key before, in fact I still remember seeing a special effects documentary on Star Wars in the late 70's when I was a kid which introduced this effect tool - and of how I love YouTube, because someone found and posted this special called The Making of Star Wars. This link will take you just to the part about the blue screen. But it was Hall, who was the first one to show me that this idea can be applied in education. I thought, "this is so fantastic and I would love to use it in my classes".
But, from there that idea just kind of sat. By that I mean (and I am sure this has happened to any of you have attended a conference before) I was inspired but didn’t do anything about. About 6 months later I had a student ask me if I was OK with her recording my history lectures on her voice recorder. I said sure, but really it took me back to the moment when I saw Hall present and I thought, “What if I don’t just have her record me, but what if I recorded myself not just with audio but with video?
So this was my plan; I would set up a video camera on a shelf in the back of my room and then I would stand in front of my podium and pin a piece of green fabric behind me. I would then conduct the lecture making sure to not move so as to always keep me in the center of the shot with the green fabric behind me. The magic came back on my computer in the editing phase of this project.
I would take my PowerPoint and save it not as a .PPT but as .JPGs which meant that I would have an image saved of every PowerPoint slide. I would then take these still slide images and my green screen video and drop them into the video editor which I was (and still am) using, Adobe Premiere Elements. It was in the program where I would be the images in the back layer and then my video on the front layer. Then by using the Chroma Key feature (that is the actual terms for green screen stuff) I would make the green disappear and I would be left standing in front of my PowerPoint lecture. I moved my video to the lower left so that I would not be centered and in the end I looked like your local weather man narrating, except of talking about the 5 day forecast I was talking Mongols, Mayans and Mutual Assured Destruction.
I was watching my daughter play on the iPad awhile back and she was using one of those talking apps. These are the kind that let you use the microphone to talk and a character will mouth your words. Meanwhile, I was in the middle of playing with one of my iMovie projects on my iPad. My project was using primary sources for a Jamestown video. Along with primary sources, I was using the video camera to record people dressed as historical figures like John Smith. But this got me thinking... "these remind me of those silly JibJab videos. Can I customize this by adding historical people using this app instead?" And that's just what I did - some App Smashing
This idea of taking one application and using using it with another is called "App Smashing" . There are tons of possibilities once you start thinking about mixing tools together. Here is a post all about why you would want to App Smash from ipad4schools.org and check out their list of:
Reasons to App Smash
Now, back to Talking Faces.
There are several apps out there, Face Talk, My Talking Pet, and others but my favorite is called Chatter Pix.
"Simply take any photo, draw a line to make a mouth, and record your voice. Then share your Pix with friends and family as silly greetings, playful messages, or creative cards. And best of all, it’s FREE!"
Its a fun and easy to use app - All you have to do is upload an image, draw a line where the mouth is and then narrate. Its only on iOs for now but an Android app is being released soon. To make this more than just a fun experience though try having your students work on their reading and fluency by having them make characters talk. These can be fictional characters or people from the past.