Bitstrips – #5 of 10 Tech Things

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April 7, 2011 by k. liz

What is it? Bitstrips
What do I use it for? I use this for my students to practice some basic dialogue language or to review recent vocabulary.
How long does it take? Zero prep time, but a decent amount of time in class.
My rating: ******* 7/10

A few weeks ago, my class was studying invitation language. After we had done the textbook activities with the target language, I decided it would be fun to have them create comic strips of an invitation. I really do like the bitstrips site, and I know that a lot of teachers have had a lot of success using it in class, but I must say that I could probably have set mine up a little better.

First of all, if you want students to work in pairs or individually as opposed to whole-class, then every student will need to have a computer (or every other student.) Also, you will want to make sure to download Adobe before you begin. This posed a problem for me as most of the students spent 5-15 minutes trying to download the program. However, once you get them set up and into the website, they really seem to enjoy it.

For the first time, I would suggest doing one comic strip collaboratively. This way, the students can see what all of the different components do, how to drag text bubbles, how to change someone’s posture, etc. There are a lot of really neat parts of the program. You can choose how many frames you want, what backgrounds, what people, what they are wearing, how they are standing, what they are doing, etc. You can even create your own characters if you want. As you can see, if you have the time, the students will love just playing around within the program. I should have allowed more time for them to figure out the program, and then given an assignment using the target language. However, I do feel that this is an effective way for students to practice conversational language on their own, and in a creative way. There is also an option to email it directly upon saving it, and you can also use your facebook account to login.

In summary, I like this website a lot for the many opportunities it has for students to be creative, practice their language, and easily send it to their teacher for follow-up. However, be sure you are prepared before using this and give clear instructions for the first use. Allow enough time for the students to familiarize themselves with the program, and give them a very clear context for what you want them to do. Also realize that this is going to use up quite a bit of your internet, so if your internet is slow in the classroom, this might not be the best activity.

Here are two examples of bitstrips for the classroom. As I mentioned above, I used it for invitation language. However, I am also planning on using it next week as we will be starting a new term. I think this will provide a good platform for students to introduce themselves to me. Here is my example for them to follow. I will have them tell me their name, where they are from, their department, something they love, and what they want to do in the future. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Have you used bitstrips in class? How do you use them? How do your students react? Looking forward to reading your comments!

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