MakeBeliefsComix.com Online Educational Comics Launches WRITER PROMPTS to Help ESL, Literacy Students Write, Read and Tell Stories

A note from Bill Zimmerman at MakeBeliefsComix, a site I have written about before:

MakeBeliefsComix.com has launched a new WRITER PROMPTS feature that regularly offers educators new ideas to spark students’ imaginations and encourage them to write more.

The new writing tool is a direct result of the overwhelming positive user response to our free web site where children and adults create their own comic strips online and, in so doing, practice language, writing and reading skills. WRITER PROMPTS utilizes interactive techniques that I have pioneered as author, journalist and teacher to help people of all ages find their writers’ voices and express their deepest thoughts. Go to http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/Comix/ and click on the WRITER PROMPTS button at the bottom right to connect to these idea prompts at www.billztreasurechest.com/blog/.

At the WRITER PROMPTS blog site selected students’ written responses will be posted, reinforcing students’ writing and language-learning efforts. Please try the new feature and give us your feedback and suggestions. We also will post some of your own suggested writing prompts if you give us permission. Send them to billz@makebeliefscomix.com.

Since we launched our educational comics site in 2006 hundreds of thousands from 175 countries have visited us. And, Google and UNESCO selected MakeBeliefsComix.com as one of the world’s most innovative web sites in fostering literacy and reading (http://www.google.com/literacy/projects.html).

Some sample writing WRITER PROMPTS offered:

  • You are an author rewriting the story of your parents’ lives. How would you change their lives, what would you say? The wonderful thing about being a writer is that you can use your imagination to create different worlds from what you know. If you’re feeling unhappy in real life, for example, you might want to create a world in which you feel h appy. If you are poor, you might want to imagine a story in which the characters are rich. You can change a story about your parents or family into something entirely different.
  • Three children in different parts of the world wake up one morning, each expecting the day to be like all the others. For one, in Mexico, this will turn into the most important day of her life; for another, in China, the day will be the happiest she will ever experience in her life, and for the third, in Chicago, this will become his saddest one. Write one of the children’s diaries for the day.
  • You are a six-year-old Pakistani boy sold into servitude by his family to labor 14 hours a day in a carpet factory. Your enslavement will help settle a $16 family debt. You spend the next six years chained to a rug loom, working 12-hour days for pennies. Then comes the day when you escape to freedom — here’s what happens:

Users of MakeBeliefsComix.com make comics strips by selecting from 15 fun characters with different moods — happy, sad, angry, worried — and write words for blank talk and thought balloons to make characters talk and think. This site is used by educators to teach language, reading and writing skills, and also for students in English-as-a-Second-Language programs to facilitate self-expression and storytelling, as well as computer literacy. Some educational therapists use the online comics with deaf and autistic people to help them understand concepts and communicate. Parents and children can create s tories together, print them to create comic books or email them to friends. Others will find the site a resource to be creative and have fun.

Acting on your feedback, MakeBeliefsComix.com now also enables users to write comic strips in languages other than English, including Spanish, French, German, Italian, Latin and Portuguese. Many foreign language teachers encourage language practice by having students create comic strips.

Please share http://www.makebeliefscomix.com with your colleagues, students, friends or readers of your publications and favorite listserv groups. It takes a community to build and nurture a rich educational resource.

Sincerely,

Bill Zimmerman
(billz@makebeliefscomix.com or wmz@aol.com)

Kevin Gets Comical

Congrats to my NWP colleague, Kevin Hodgson on the publication of his new comic, Boolean Squared! He uses Comic Life for the basic layout and then fills in the pictures himself. It will be interesting to see where he takes this, both in terms of using the technology to produce the comic as well as the content of the strip itself.

Teacher creates comic strip aimed at the great ‘digital divide’ – Newspaper in Education – MassLive.com

The “digital divide” between kids and adults is at the heart of a new comic strip being created by Kevin J. Hodgson, a Southhampton teacher and writer.

Called “Boolean Squared,” and posted every Monday to the Newspaper in Education blog, http://blog.masslive.com/nie/, the comic strip peeks into the world of teaching and technology and uses humor to expose some of the misconceptions of both so-called “digital natives” (the kids) and “digital immigrants” (the adults) when it comes to technology and learning.

Grab the RSS feed and enjoy a new comic each week.

Make Belief Comics

Recently, I was alerted to a new comic-making tool: Make Belief Comix. Here is a sample of what you can do:

Passing Notes

And here is a more thorough explanation from the creator of the site, Bill Zimmerman, who emailed me the following:

Dear reader,

I want to share with you news of my newest educational project and also
ask for your help to make it succeed.

I have launched a new web site — http:// www.makebeliefscomix.com
where children and adults can create their own comic strips.  They can
select from 15 fun characters with different moods  — happy, sad,
angry, worried – and write words for  blank talk and thought balloons
to make their characters talk and think.  There also are story ideas
and prompts to help users create graphic stories.

This site can be used by educators to teach language, reading and
writing skills, and also for students in English-as-a-Second-Language
programs to facilitate self-expression and storytelling, as well as
computer literacy. Some educational therapists use it with deaf and
autistic people to help them understand concepts and communicate.
Parents and children can create stories together, print them to create
comic books or email them to friends and family.  Others will find the
site a resource to be creative, calm down and have fun.

Because so many Spanish-speaking users asked us for the ability to
write their cartoons in Spanish as well as in English, we recently
upgraded the site to accept words written in Spanish, including
appropriate accent marks. This can be a useful tool for someone who is
learning Spanish as well as someone whose first language is Spanish.
In time, this feature will be extended to other languages.

I am hoping that you will share http://www.makebeliefscomix.com  with
your colleagues, teachers, students or readers of your publications and
resource lists.  The site is free with no advertising.  Any help you
might offer in getting word out about this project is very appreciated.
If you can suggest other people or groups whom I might contact to make
them aware of the site please send me their names, email addresses or
phone numbers.   Relevant Internet resource sharing groups would be
helpful, too.  It takes a community to build a useful resource like
this one.

As one who learned to read with comic books, I know that creating comic
strips can help people tap into their creativity and practice their
language and storytelling skills.  The site is free and stems from my
lifelong mission to create resources that help people find their voice
and express themselves. The concept for makebeliefscomix.com is derived
from my earlier books, Make Beliefs and Make Beliefs for Kids of All
Ages (which can be found on my other web site:
http://www.billztreasurechest.com).  A Make Beliefs interactive feature
appeared for 13 years on my syndicated Student Briefing Page for
Newsday, and in National Geographic’s World Magazine.

I hope you like http://www.makebeliefscomix.com and will use it in your
work and personal life.  Your feedback is welcome and very helpful.

With thanks and every good wish,

Bill Zimmerman
(wmz@aol.com)

Along with ToonDoo, which I was introduced to last semester, I am thinking about how I might use Make Belief Comix in my ENG 315 class this semester, so this was a timely email from Bill. Please contact him with questions.