During my second year as a middle school teacher, I encountered my first passively non-compliant student. (I’m sure there were some my first year but I was just too clueless!)

John was not a classroom management problem but he very clearly was choosing not to participate in class, not to complete assignments and seemed completely comfortable with the forgone conclusion that he would not pass my class.

But I noticed that he was very successful in art class. John’s art teacher noted that he was a great cartoonist. Long story short? I offered John the option of creating work in comic strip format.

Essay on Lewis & Clark? Draw me a comic strip outlining the purpose of the trip and where the trip took place.

Veen diagram about causes of the Civil War? Political cartoon about states rights.

We know that our kids are visual learners and enjoy working with multimedia. One of the ways to encourage kids to work with text, documents and content is with comics and comic strips.

But what if our kids don’t have the skills that John did? Are there tools out there that all kids can use? Glad you asked! Here’s a few:

Comic Life is the one of the best tools around for creating comics. It is cross-platform and there are discounts for educational uses. You can download a free trial version to try it and the web site has a nice gallery of examples. There are also some nice resources online for educators. These are good too.

I also like Comiqs.

  • “a service that lets our users create and share their comic-style stories with the community. We aim to provide our users with easy to use tools that transforms their most cherished and most memorable photographs into something fun. We also aim to build to build a fun and light-hearted community where people can hang out to have a laugh or two.”

Here’s a few ideas for using Comiqs.

There are a couple of others that you may want to try out. Comics Sketch is one. Pikistrips is another.

Give them a try and be sure to have fun!