Padlet, Comic Life 3 and Lucidpress in the High School Classroom

Update: I wrote this last year. I'm back to the same project and finding similar experiences. I'm still looking for the Goldilocks spot, where it is "just right". Still, I am committed to this assignment. Because technology, as used in this assignment, still enhances the narrative

I have some terrific 12th graders. Great kids. They are complaining that I'm working them too hard. I am. Kind of. They give lie to the idea of "digital native". They struggle with tasks my 5th graders were quite facile with. But that's not a surprise, or at least it shouldn't have been. They've never done some of the tasks I'm asking them to do. And my 5th grade students had a year under their belt with me. Tech needs to be like water. Normal. For them, it isn't and I now know better.

For instance, yesterday I showed the students how to use the Research Tool on a Google Doc. They were blown away.  I write this not to disparage my students or colleagues. Growing up with technology doesn't mean that a person knows how to do anything other than consume it.

In my first assignment, I asked the students to read the brilliant, powerful and sad, Fractured Lands, which was published recently in the New York Times Magazine. The story follows six people from six different countries in the Arab world.

The assignment:
You will read that there are six people the author follows in Fractured Lands. You have one of two choices presented below.

Option 1) Follow one of the character's stories in its entirety. That is whenever the person's picture appears in the left-hand margin, read their story. Then you will write a story using the app ComicLife (iPad app the costs 5 bucks) or Lucidpress (browser-based and free) explaining their story. The comic should reflect details and quotations from the story. It could also include an additional panel that reflects an imagined future for the character. The cartoon should be 12-15 panels. Lucidpress should be about 5-6 panels (pages) long. TRY THESE. YOU"LL LIKE IT. Regarding Lucidpress- make sure you choose the digital option. I don't want you making something for you will print out. I have a short tutorial included in this lesson. 

Option 2) Follow two of the character's stories in their entirety. Then write a page long dialogue (single spaced) between the two characters. What might be a circumstance where they would meet? What would they talk about? What might they want, and how could they be working to get what they want in the scene? Be sure to include relevant details from the story in your scene.You may tech it up if you wish and make an iMovie or Lucidpress or yes, ComicLife.

Below, I've included a comic-life presentation made by one of my students last year. Though she should have cited her pictures, otherwise I think it is excellent and it is worthy of a model. I think it would be really powerful to read one of the characters' stories through this media.

Here are their results. For a first try, some are quite good. Be patient if some of the projects aren't loading quickly.  Here is the link if you are having trouble viewing. I like how ComicLife enhances the narrative. I want my students to see that these are real people. Paraphrasing Stalin who once said an accident that kills four is a tragedy but a million deaths is a statistic, I know that numbers numb us. The genius of the article is that it personalizes the story. I wanted my assignment to allow students to fully understand this. Here is a Padlet of some of their work.

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