Last spring I caught some tweets about a newish web app called Bitstrips for Schools, a collaborative comic strip application, which appeared to be used pretty heavily in parts of Canada. I like to follow education trends in Canada because of two reasons: 1) they have a strong educational system that has resulted in high rates of literacy and really excellent educator bloggers, and 2) they like hockey and my husband likes hockey and I keep thinking one day I might get to visit a school in Canada when we travel there to watch hockey.
If I were still teaching in the classroom, I would want to use Bitstrips with my students. One reason is because of the strong affinity so many of our students have with graphic novels. To be able to give them opportunities to write in that genre creates a powerful, authentic purpose for writing. I also feel strongly that our students need to develop their visual literacy skills, and the use of avatars and comic creations can support this skill development. Another reason I liked Bitstrips is because it has a multi-authoring function. Our students should regularly engage in opportunities to create products collaboratively, and while there are other comic strip creator applications out there for free, I haven’t seen one that allows for the level of collaboration as I noticed in Bitstrips. An additional reason we like Bitstrips is manner in which it allows teachers to set up their classes in a private networked environment which creates a level of safety that is desirous by many of our staff and families. The last reason we like Bitstrips is because it’s fun! Bitstrips is especially cool when used on an interactive white board! Very, very cool! The only thing wrong with Bitstrips in my opinion is its lack of functionality with iPads, but I have heard that their developers are working on that…
Our folks have worked with the folks at Bitstrips to set up a free trial for any interested instructional staff member in Thompson. Any Thompson educator who is interested in continuing the use of this tool with their students after November are requested to contact me directly as we are working out a way to continue those subscriptions for teachers who actively use this tool to support learning. Val Downing and I will work to activate your subscription for the remainder of the year and use this information to determine our future integration of this learning tool.
We are excited to offer this tool as a possible instructional support to learning for our students. I am eager to hear your thoughts about this product as you begin to integrate it into your classroom.
Tips for Getting Started with Bitstrips from Shannon Powell, Grade 7 teacher
More Tips for Getting Started with Bitstrips from Elizabeth Canton, Grade 5 teacher