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Comic Strips are Serious Assessment Tools

For our Book Club we read The Midnight War of Mateo Martinez by Robin Yardi. The students enjoyed everything about the story. To keep track of their reading progress, we had a shared sheet in our Google Classroom, where students would upload comments for their classmates to see after every chapter. Some comments were deep and thoughtful, while others were light and humorous. But all comments were respected.

Assessing their understanding of the text could have been done the traditional way, with multiple choice questions or the regular book report. For one class, our reading comprehension project was to make a movie poster for their story. They had to cast actors who fit the description of the characters they read about, and make a tag line that captured the essence of the story in one fell swoop.

For this class, I decided to ask them to make a comic strip. Which was the first time for them to do this digitally. But the minute class started, they were already asking me about the comic book assignment they saw posted on their Google Classroom. "Are we really making a comic today?" Breanna asked. "I'm so excited!" That was the general mood of the class that morning.

I showed them where they could find templates and simply reminded them that they needed to pick one scene from the book to interpret into a comic strip. I encouraged them to use their Canva accounts, but some opted to use the templates I uploaded in their Google Classroom. Elements that should be present were: background, characters, and dialogue. The students went to work.

The following day, they were invited to present their work. Of course, they were self-conscious at first. I reminded them that this was their first time making a comic strip digitally, and that it takes a while to learn how to use all the different tools. The results were awesome!

One by one the students presented and talked about their work. I would make small suggestions on how they could edit or improve, but would always remember to praise them for their effort. Then, Reese clicked the present button and we were all amazed.

I love how she captured the details from the book, made her characters from scratch, and made her comic strip look like a page from a manga. She hit the mark on background (I love her kitchen), characters (they even have different expressions on each frame), and dialogue (very close to the actual text). Best of all, Reese and her classmates were so excited about this class assignment and really enjoyed working on it.

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