We recently embarked upon a unit of English where we were allowed to dangle a creative carrot for the children in the form of comic books.
Using the imitate-innovate-invent model as suggested by Pie Corbett, we began by looking at the Spiderman origin story. We used the original comic book, as well as the iPad app (there are origin stories for the other major Marvel characters too). Boxing up (a favourite of mine) allowed the children to see a complicated story in a simple way, from which we wrote as a whole class.
Using comics not only grabbed the children as they knew they would be making their own superheroes, but it was also an easy way in to encouraging the children to vary sentence openers, as well as grappling with that lovely SPAG terminology. Nothing like sucking the fun out of reading, but needs must…
The Spiderman comic books allowed the children to spot a wider range of openers – rather than just using ‘suddenly’, ‘without warning’ or ‘as quick as a flash’ (one of my boys wanted to use ‘as quick as The Flash, which made me smile), they were able to see adverbial phrases as a way of opening sentences. Suddenly (!), I was seeing a much wider range of sentence opener and children stretching themselves as a result.
The end result of this unit of work was to get the children to plan and make their own comics, based loosely on the Spiderman story. We used Comic Life alongside a green screen app called Bluescreen-It, which we had on the school iPads. However, seeing as we had over 100 children wanting to use them at the same time, we thought it would be an ideal opportunity to try the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) scheme, especially as nearly every child had some form of tablet or phone.
Unfortunately, Comic Life was only available on Apple devices, so those children with Androids didn’t bring their devices in (I admit to having not done sufficient research on what was and wasn’t available here). That said, we still had a good uptake; children were willing to buy the app for their own device, they happily brought in their iPad/pod/phone and it gave them a bit more ownership over their work.
The results can be seen below and by clicking here. In an ideal world, I’d have liked to have spent a good week or two on making, editing and sharing the comics, but time waits for no man and passed us by. Still, we had fun, learnt some new writers’ tricks and created a buzz for English that isn’t necessarily always there. We shall do it again, I hope.