For their first project of the year, fourth grade students articulated their wishes and challenges for technology this year using ComicLife. What did they hope we would do in tech class? What did they think might be challenging? This introductory activity allowed students to have a lot of fun and learn a new application while thinking carefully about their hopes and fears for the new school year.
The project targeted a great range of skill areas for the start of the year, hopefully laying the foundation for productive work in future projects.
Reflecting on one’s learning
Students engage in metacognitive activities as early as first grade. This project encourages them to prepare intentionally for the new school year, thinking ahead and making predictions in preparation for future work. They also provided me, the teacher, with useful information as I prepare for the year.
Writing in a comic book format
The project gave student another opportunity to write in an open-ended format, without specific length requirements. Thought and speech bubbles provided bite-sized containers for sentences. We required revisions as one would for any other piece of written work.
Spelling and using spellcheck
When we publish work to the web, we check for spelling, and students return and make revisions. Yes, this added a couple of days to the project. Unfortunately, ComicLife only shows spelling suggestions when editing each individual field. Perhaps there was a way to spellcheck the entire document, but we did not find it.
Using a built-in computer camera
Students started taking photos on the first day. It was a big hit, leading to plenty of colorful expressions in the book. Students immediately learned that technology class is fun! Some students used PhotoBooth instead of the integrated ComicLife photo tool. Student showed great creativity in photographing themselves upside-down, leveraging symmetry within special camera effects, getting ultra close-up to the camera, photographing their clothing, and including friends in their shots.
Placing photos in a document
We will place photos into a variety of document this year and next, making this an essential skill to start early. ComicLife makes it easy with drag-and-drop and auto-cropping to panels.
Using a new application (ComicLife)
Students practice exploring a new application and mastering a handful of essential functions.
Limiting personal information posted on a public website
Since we planned to publish this for parents and other interested people to view, students removed their names and other personally identifying information from their documents.
Applying special effects and graphic treatments
Some students got deeply into finding all of the special effect tools and applying them to their photos.
Saving to one’s network folder on the file server
Students take a while to master saving files to their network folder instead of the local hard drive. Some students learned the hard way, when they could not access their files from a different computer.
Exporting in PDF format
Students learned that documents could be saved in different formats, one suitable for editing and one optimized for publication.
Posting a document to a website
Students received their network accounts and joined our Moodle class website. There, they found an upload area for this assignment and learned to select and submit a file to the website.
Sharing one’s aspirations and concerns with the class
All of the work is shared with the class and published online, making it easy for students to see that they are not alone in having concerns about what may be challenging in the class.