My students are fully immersed right now in creating Digital Math Picture Books, using PowerPoint as the platform for creation and MS Paint as the (cumbersome) illustration tool. Despite the many limitations of both of those software programs, they are hard at work and fully engaged in creating picture book stories that weave mathematical elements into the mix.
There are stories explaining the geometry of shapes; using order of operations to solve mysteries; and explaining the difference between pie and Pi. Their audience is going to be students at our school in lower grades, but they are having a blast with the creation.
This past week, we were fortunate to have a father of one of my students come in (I will refer to him as Comic Dad) and he worked with our four classes on the process he goes through to create a comic called Rocketboy, which has been featured in Nick Magazine (as a 3D comic, no less). He and his partner have also worked on other projects over the years, but he focused in on Rocketboy — who wishes more than anything that he can fly, but cannot.
What I liked about what Comic Dad said:
- his collaboration is a true collaboration with his partner — ideas are bounced in and bounced at all the time;
- the work is being revised constantly right up until publication and he had the storyboards to show the changes;
- creating a character with flaws leads to story lines (each Rocket Boy story revolves around his failed attempts to fly);
- humor — both outright and subtle — has a special place in comics, where the visual medium meets the writing;
- perseverance is a key word for any writer wanting to be published.
Meanwhile, my students were finishing up their own storyboards and so I grabbed a few of the pages and made this little movie of their initial brainstorming work that must take place before they even get to boot up the computer.