Comics are being used in K12 classrooms everywhere to get reluctant readers to read and to engage students in a wide range of topics, from language arts to history, math and science. If this idea is new to you, you may want to check out ComicsInEducation.com, a terrific compendium of useful information which is dedicated to the idea that understanding and making meaning of visual narratives like comics is of particular importance in this digital age. Facebook has a Comic Book Teachers group, and the American Library Association has convened a Graphic Novels And Comics Round Table.
Although Comic-BEE was originally created as a cybersecurity education technology, it can be used to create curriculum that supports any topic, not just cybersecurity. Comic-BEE can help you create comics aligned with your lesson plan on any topic. You can even export your comic’s lesson plan as a Word document and provide to school administration if needed!
As we’ve discussed in other posts, Comic-BEE includes everything you need to create a comic aligned with instructional goals, including graphic assets for the final comic. The assets in Comic-BEE include a diverse set of characters as seen below, allowing educators to create comics that reflect their student population. Comic-BEE also includes a wide range of props to use in a comic: there are all kinds of computing devices, application user interfaces and technology devices (of course!), as well as school, home and office furniture, appliances (e.g., TV, “smart” refrigerator, coffee machine), and everyday objects such as balls, lightbulbs, food items, trees, backpacks, trash cans and recycling containers.
Using Comic-BEE in a classroom or an informal educational setting such as an afterschool activity, club or summer camp works well because you only need a modern (HTML5-compliant) browser with Comic-BEE: no add-ons, extensions or software installs are needed to read or write comics. Reading comics works well on tablets and Chromebooks, but most users will be more comfortable creating a comic with a laptop or computer with at least a 15” monitor.
Teachers can create comics to use in classroom and have students read it alone or in teams, discussing which choice to select. Branching comics are a great way to introduce a topic in a way that illustrates why students should care about the topic, when they can explore choices and see different consequences. They are also curricular materials that can enable students to think critically about a topic, as with an instructor-led classroom activity where students suggest choices and endings not shown in a comic they’ve already read and explored. Discussion of suggested choices –including the option of ranking the expertise and quality of those suggested choices– can be tailored to the available time and/or instructional goals, and may suggest to the teacher additional scenes and story paths for the comic.
Students can also use Comic-BEE to create their own version of a comic, working alone or in teams. Our prior experience with middle school students indicates they quite easily understand the user interface for writing the branching script, storyboarding and creating the final, full-color comic. Students can complete a comic started by the teacher, working to create a short path leading to a good outcome, or a path showing the bad outcome – or a branching story incorporating both good and bad paths as described in this blog post. Students could also create their own unique story completely from scratch. In the case of a class using Comic-BEE, the teacher may choose to set up student accounts as anonymous accounts; we do not need any information about the students, not even their names.
By using the automated scoring capability within Comic-BEE, educators can use a comic to assess what students know before or after instruction on a topic, without it feeling like a typical test. Or use the scored comic as a game or a challenge. Even when using Comic-BEE comics for a challenge or scored assessment, no personal information about the comic reader is required by Comic-BEE – each student can be given an anonymous access code.
I hope this has answered some questions about using Comic-BEE in the K12 classroom. Contact us today to learn more about using Comic-BEE in an educational setting or for educational pricing.