Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Creating Writers with Comics

There is not a child in the US who is not exposed to comics at some point in their life.  The mixture of pictures with text is compelling, perhaps more so for our reluctant readers.  I have yet to meet a child who is not intrigued by creating his own comic.
 One of my go-to tools as a School-based Occupational Therapist is Plasq’s Comic Life.  This software is incredibly easy to use.  Comic Life provides multiple templates to create a comic grid. Then you can simply drag & drop pictures into each frame, and then add a narrative box or dialogue bubble.  I use pictures of the students themselves, or find them on Google.  Many boys seem to be delighted to be in a strip with Spiderman!

 To turn this software into an intervention rather than just a good time, I typically create a page with clear action, and than the student and I talk out a narrative and conversation.  Sometimes I post questions in the bubbles for the students to answer on paper.  Once we have our text, the student writes out the narrative and script.

 Some students are challenged to generate their own ideas.  In such cases, we take turns, rolling dice.  The number that comes up dictates how many words the writer generates.  If we roll a “1”, we roll again, and add the “1” to the new number.  This shared process often helps free students up from anxiety about being creative.

 When the narrative and dialogue is written, we then transcribe it to the actual software.  If the student is working on handwriting, I print out the comic and they write in the bubbles.  We focus on letter formation, sizing, spacing, etc.  If they are typing, they type it in.  If you have a SmartBoard, or overhead projector, writing on the board can be a good way for your writers who struggle with letter formation (bigger often being easer).   When the project is finished, we print a couple of copies and they can hare with their classroom.

 The software is available for a free 30 day trial at their website, and is compatible with Macs and PCs.  In addition, Plasq offers an iPad version which sells for  a mere $4.99. 
Download the trial product, and try it with a few of your reluctant writers.  This will likely become one of your go-to therapy tools, and at $29.99, if your school won’t pay for it, most of us can cover the cost ourselves.

I recently discovered that the good folks at PlasQ offer an educators discount! Educators can get Comic Life for just $19.99.   plasq.com/store/education

Adding questions the student answers them on a separate sheet of paper, focusing on letter formation, sizing, spacing, and orientation.  When the student is finished with this task, we print the strip, and he/she writes the text on the final product.

Happy Therapy!

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