Creating Comics Online


At times you or your teachers might be looking for something extra to engage students or to extend students who finish their work early, or maybe you’re looking for a quick way to promote a new book on your Library webpage.  While comic strip creation is probably more appealing to younger students, some can be quite clever, and this might be just the creative outlet that some older students enjoy.

Read Write Think  have developed a lesson plan for using cartoons to teach onomatopoeia, and they quote B.Norton on their website as saying:

 “Comic books have had a motivating power in literacy development for children, especially young boys, since their introduction in the 1930s. This nontraditional type of literature – often dismissed by educators as superficial and shallow – is highly visual, contains complex literary elements, and lends itself to critical examination of moral, ethical, and social issues.”

Also, Andrew Churches, in his Educational Origami Wiki says:

“I like using comics in education: they appeal to the visual and kinesthetic learner, they are cross curricula, flexible and captivating”.

 Here are some of the comic creation resources Andrew has put together:


 In her blog Adventures in Educational Blogging, Susan Sedro  gives a very good comparison of the advantagess and disadvantagess of 3 different online cartoon creators – MakeBeliefsComix, StripCreator and ToonDoo.

 ToonDoo seems to be the one  best set up for use in the classroom.  It offers a secure site for educators – but it will cost you.  However, they are very flexible with options – the smallest time you can request is access for 1 month with 30 students and this will cost $8, or you can request access for a couple of years for the whole school. Even if you only subscribe for a month, this could be a great way to complement a unit of work you are doing in class.

For other ideas, see:

Janet’s Abruzzo Edublog

 Teaching & Learning in the Digital Age

Sue Waters –

Bright Ideas –



Prezi Logo 

If you would like a different presentation option to PowerPoint, take a look at an amazing new tool called Prezi. It replaces traditional PowerPoint slides with one single screen; you lay everything out to create your overview and then choose pathway links between different words or objects, as you ‘drill down’ into your subject matter. Place and rotate objects using the ‘zebra wheel’, add text, then create your presentation pathway, zooming in and out to alternately see the big picture, then details within that picture.  Once you’ve created your prezi, you simply move between ideas and concepts by clicking your mouse, just as you would with traditional PowerPoints.

 To get more of an idea of the simplicity of the concept, yet complexity of detail that is possible with Prezi, watch this amazing demonstration of Tips and Tricks.

Prezi_Jing_Capture [640x480]


” ‘Prezi makes slideshows bearable again by presenting “slides” as simply areas of one giant whiteboard with infinite resolution…. I liked Prezi because it was so different than any other concept. It isn’t a complex mash-up or …concept only tech people can appreciate. It is a better way to give slideshows….. Prezi is clearly more engaging and interesting, for both the creator and the audience.” (Rob Dixon’s comments on his blog)

This is a brilliant example by Anne Robinson of the Dixie Grammar School, showing the use of Prezi for teaching students about research, plagiarism and citing references:


“Prezi have launched a topic on their forum about how to use this presentation tool in education. Follow this link  to join the conversation:  by David Pinto


This YouTube video from Palm Beach Cafe shows how to use Prezi -( from about 4.30 mins till the end)

Other examples – Echo – a presentation using images

Glogster – Interactive Posters

Glogster is a site with a lot of potential for engaging students in the classroom –  providing a different option for both teachers and students to present information in a visual, interactive way.

Mix graphics, photos, videos, music and text to create an interactive poster, then use the embed code to add it to a blog, wiki, website or Facebook page.

Shakespeare_Parodies [640x480]

(Above:  Shakespeare Parodies)

Bookleads_Wiki_Glogster_Page [640x480]

(Above – by Joyce Valenza. See also

Glogster is keen to encourage teachers to use this site with their classes, and will give help and support with creating school accounts and keeping students’ work private. Go to Glogster EDU to set up a class account, and use these tutorials by Traci Blazosky to guide you through the process.  One is a tutorial on setting up a class account, the other is a tutorial for adding Voicethreads, Vokis, Blabberizes, Animotos, and more to enhance your Glogster page.

Brenda Dyck has put together a great list of examples of glogs in education (see below), and she comments:  “Glogster has tried to make this tool as teacher-friendly as possible by making it easy to set up a class account, which provides a private account for each student (and generates passwords and e-mails them to the teacher).”

See also:

Greetings from the World a wiki where students around the world have created Glogs to showcase the countries they live in.

Scribble Maps

ScribbleMaps_52_Stairs [640x480]

Image from

Scribble Maps is a site which uses Google Maps – you can zoom in or zoom out on the maps, change to different views – eg terrain or satellite, and put markers and text at various locations. However it is different in that it allows you to add shapes to the maps as well.

Use world maps in English to plot the journeys of characters in books or in History to show war zones, or zoom right in for Geography and add details or instructions to local maps. Once you begin to use it, you’ll discover all kinds of possibilities for using this site in the classroom.

You can even get a Scribble Maps widget from Widgetbox to add to your website, blog or Facebook site.

Tsunami_Scribble_Map [640x480]


XtraNormal is a very engaging Web 2.0 application where you can type dialogue and instructions, and the website converts them into animated figures moving and talking to each other.  XtraNormal allows you to choose from many different languages (making it great for ESL teachers), and it includes different cameras to capture different angles when your characters are speaking to each other.

Once you have created your movie, you can take the embed code from the website and publish your movie to YouTube (and then download it), TeacherTube, your blog, Facebook or any other website.

 Below is an excellent PPT  which gives simple instructions for creating a movie with XtraNormal:


This video by Nik Peachey also explains how to create an XtraNormal text to speech movie:


Nik goes on to list in his blog post  some ideas for how Xtranormal can be used in the clsssroom. He also lists the good points about it:

  • “It’s free (at the moment) and it’s quick and easy to use?
  • It’s a way of giving students a ‘finished product’ to showcase the language they are learning.
  • It’s entertaining and creative.
  • It’s a very flexible and adaptable tool and could be used by students (over 13 years old) or by you to create materials for your students. You could use it to create materials for young learners through to business courses.
  • It’s a way of getting students to listen and to write.”

and the bad:

  • “I’m not sure how long it will be free. There are signs that the owners intend to start charging, though no signs of how much or whether there would still b a free option.
  • Some of the voices that create the speech from the text don’t always sound 100% real, though in cartoon type animation I think this is reasonably acceptable.
  • Not everyone using the site is doing so for educational purposes; some of the animations that are already there could be inappropriate for younger learners or offensive to older ones.”

Be aware  that a lot of the XtraNormal movies in YouTube are inappropriate in content – if you are looking for some for ideas, try searching TeacherTube instead.

This video was created by a teacher to show how Twitter can be used in education:


The following videos were created by Yr 5 students learning about the human body:


Tagul Word Clouds

 In September this year, a new word-cloud creator was launched – Tagul – similar to the incredibly popular Wordle (see also How to Use Wordle by digitalmaverick).  It differs from Wordle though in that each word in the cloud spins and turns as you pass your mouse over it, as well as linking to a Google search for that word if you click on it.

It is also possible in Tagul to choose the shape of your word cloud, as this heart-shaped image from the website demonstrates. Other shapes available are: cloud, star, triangle, pentagram, rectangle and circle.

 To begin making word clouds, you need to register, then you can create and save  up to 10 word clouds, as well as creating  embed codes for each which you can use on any website or blog post.Tagul_Heart_Cloud

“Each tag in a  Tagul cloud is linked with a URL and is “clickable”in  that  it  enables visitors to use it for navigation….  Tagul also has some features that Wordle doesn’t, like custom shapes selection and multiple fonts usage in one cloud.”  (Tagul website)

The downside is that you can’t enter your own text – it must come from a website (URL) and therefore it is difficult to determine the size of the words, as this star-shaped Tagul shows. However, once the tags are generated, there is an option to delete any words which you don’t want to appear in the final word cloud.