I spent this week substituting at the middle school in the technology lab. While there, I was able to watch and use the online comic-strip-generating program “Pixton”. The students were charged with the assignment of creating a comic strip that taught a message about Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship.
Each student had a username and password and had used the program before, so they knew right away what to do to get started. In experimenting with it myself, I found that it was a very user-friendly tool. The buttons were intuitive to the novice creator.
In deciding on a tool to explore for this week, I found it easiest to think in terms of a particular standard. I chose the science standard having to do with physics and simple machines, as I previously taught a unit during student teaching to second graders. I wanted to find something they could utilize to better grasp understandings about simple machines such as: what simple machines are and how they make work easier.
I think the students would be engaged and highly motivated with Pixton AND come to better understand simple machines. Second graders love comics, they would have a blast playing with the program. They could also share their creations with the rest of the class by logging on to the program and sharing on the Promethean board.
Unfortunately, Pixton does cost money. It appears that the school has a subscription and multiple teachers use it to create assignments for different classes. Some nice features:
- teachers put assignment descriptions for students to look over
- before students submit their comic, they can assign a grade to their work based on a rubric that the teacher inputs
- a teacher-graded rubric is set up next to the student rubric
- a place for comments is available for students to give feedback to other students’ work
Second graders may need additional support using Pixton – depending on their comfort level with technology. Also, as with any creative-based assignment, the amount of time per student will surely vary greatly. As I alluded to earlier, this tool could be used for any number of topics as another way to explore important concepts. I think something like this requires the student to explain to themselves what they know in order to relay their message to a broader audience. There is a lot of a potential for furthering understanding through this tool.