Yesterday was Day Three of our Webcomic Camp for middle school students and after letting them play around with our Bitstrips site, my colleague, Tom, guided our comic creators through a focused session around developing either a character they will use in a series of comics or a plot for a larger graphic story, and then, we had them fill out some brainstorming sheets around their choice of focus.
(This is how we continue to weave lessons around writing into the fun of comics, but don’t tell the kids!)
We will also be having each student do a short presentation today about the comics or graphic story they are working on. Tom and I hope this will give a good sense of focus to the group of students, who are wonderful and creative but can get off-track at times. Our aim is for them to “complete” something, even if it is part of a story or a few comics in a series of possible strips that they will continue after camp ends today (yikes!).
While we continue to show them a bunch of tools (ComicLife, Bitstrips, Make Beliefs Comics, traditional paper, and today, our ToonDoo space), they have complete freedom on their work, so we do have kids working on all sorts of different ideas in different formats. While this is billed as “webcomic camp,” there are at least three kids working with pencil and paper right now.
One more note: After every tool we use, we spend about ten minutes reflecting on what they liked about it and what they didn’t like about it, and how it might be improved. We’re trying to build in this reflective practice, particularly when it comes to online sites, so that they don’t feel “locked in” by what a site offers and conform to the site’s limitations only.
Peace (in the frames),