Teachers Teaching Teachers #199 – Bitstrips Creators and Writing Project Teachers Talking Comics – 05.05.10

On this episode of Teachers Teaching Teachers, we enjoyed a lively conversation with two guys from the Toronto-based  interactive design team who created Bitstrips for Schools, Shahan Panth and Jacob BlackstockJacobAtWork-Candid-300x221.png

We were also entertained by a couple of Writing Project teachers: Kevin Hodgson from Western Massachusetts and Larry Neuburger from the Ozarks in Missouri.

In September 2009, Bitstips launched a “new educational site, Bitstrips for Schools!

Soon after we launched Bitstrips.com, we found that teachers everywhere were using Bitstrips as a teaching tool, engaging their students with the exciting power of comic creation.  So, we decided to build a new version of Bitstrips, tailored specifically for teachers.  Bitstrips for Schools has all the awesome tools from Bitstrips, transplanted into a safe and secure environment, with additional administrative features that put the teacher in control.  Teachers can create a virtual classroom, where their students can become cartoon characters and then complete activities by making comics.  It’s an amazing way to promote literacy while having fun.

And, to start things off with a bang, we’ve licensed the service to the Ministry of Education for our home province of Ontario.  This means that all 5000 publicly funded schools now have access to Bitstrips – that’s over 2,000,000 students!  We can’t wait to see what they come up with.

So, go check out Bitstrips for Schools – learning with comics has never been so much fun!

 Earlier this spring, the National Writing Project invited their teachers to try Bitstripsfor free until the end of the summer.

Have you thought about using comic strips as a new way to engage your students? It seems like a perfect step along the continuum of multimedia use in composition, but the artwork aspect of it may be daunting. Enter: Bitstrips for Schools.

Kevin Hodgson wrote a review:

I am always interested in the various online, but protected, sites offering students and teachers a way to make webcomics. I use ToonDooSpaces with my students, and I love the variety of artwork and other options at ToonDoo, but I keep an eye out for other sites, too.welcome.jpg?w=500&h=183

Recently, the National Writing Project finagled a deal with Bitstrips to let NWP teachers give the Bitstrips for Schools a trial run, so I jumped right in (big surprise) and started up an account, established a “classroom” and began making a comic. Later, I created an “activity” that will show up in any student account that I create.

Perhaps you do comics with your students, or would like to consider the possibilities! We hope you enjoy this conversation!

Click Read more to see a copy of the chat that was happening during the webcast.


20:39:19 thelifeofsabi: Kevin or arvind, are you her for the Larry Neuburger Webcast?
20:39:26 thelifeofsabi: her=here
20:40:21 Jenny: Hey Kevin, et al.  No – I’m not skyping.  I’ll just chat tonight
20:43:30 Kevin Hodgson: Hey
20:43:51 Kevin Hodgson: I am here for the TTT show around webcomics, lifeofsabi
20:45:44 Kevin Hodgson: Hi Jenny
20:45:52 Kevin Hodgson: umm .. jpeg
20:46:17 thelifeofsabi: Yay! I’m in the right place. Nice you meet you all
20:46:26 Jenny: I seem to be having issues
20:46:31 Jenny: I need a therapist
20:46:44 Kevin Hodgson: Sounds like a good topic for a comic ….
20:46:55 Jenny: I aim to please
20:47:04 thelifeofsabi: *meow*
20:47:18 Kevin Hodgson: So, a chat room therapist walks into a bar ….
20:47:44 Jenny: uh huh, do tell
20:48:00 Kevin Hodgson: That’s all I got
20:48:09 Jenny: It’s a start. . .
20:48:32 Kevin Hodgson: So, you used Bitstrips with your kids? I saw your comment at the BitBlog
20:48:40 Jenny: If I try to click on audio again, I may spork out again
20:48:45 Jenny: yes, they loved it
20:49:04 Jenny: I can see a lot of potential for next year
20:49:12 Kevin Hodgson: I haven’t use it with mine but I will with a summer camp in July
20:49:13 Jenny: last day of the program is tomorrow
20:49:23 Kevin Hodgson: Hi Larry
20:49:33 thelifeofsabi: Hi Larry
20:49:35 Jenny: Oooooooo, summer camp, WTWP has one.  I’ll suggest it.
20:49:43 Larry Neuburger: Hey, Kevin. You all ready?
20:50:01 Kevin Hodgson: I have headphones on. My funny bone is working. Readt
20:50:02 Jenny: Any audio today?
20:50:10 Jenny: asked and answered
20:50:14 SusanEttenheim: hi all we start at 9
20:50:17 SusanEttenheim: in 10 min
20:50:20 Kevin Hodgson: Hi Susan
20:50:28 Larry Neuburger: Ready!
20:50:34 SusanEttenheim: hi kevin hi larry!
20:51:19 SusanEttenheim: brb
20:51:19 Kevin Hodgson: Larry, I followed a link from your tweet to a comic. Cool stuff
20:52:44 Larry Neuburger: I’ve been having a blast!
20:53:22 Larry Neuburger: I wear hearing aids.
20:53:54 Larry Neuburger: Did you see the one "The Teacher Can’t Hear’?
20:54:06 Jenny: link please?
20:54:06 Kevin Hodgson: Yes. That was the one.
20:55:25 Kevin Hodgson: http://bit.ly/bhKuQ1
20:56:04 SusanEttenheim: thanks Kevin!
20:57:30 Jenny: OMG!  My teaching life in a comic!
20:57:39 Jenny: Please send a hearing aid recommendation, pronto!
20:59:54 Larry Neuburger: http:/bit.ly/aUFFpG
21:01:11 Kevin Hodgson: a comic of mine — http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2720/4540416753_5dc480cf08_o.png
21:01:20 SusanEttenheim: hi jenny can you hear both sides of our conversation?
21:01:23 Paul Allison: http://paulallison.tumblr.com/post/572376869/bitstrips-creators-and-writing-project-teachers-talking
21:01:26 SusanEttenheim: how is our audio everyone?
21:01:43 Jenny: Can’t hear anything.  Let me try something else
21:01:47 SusanEttenheim: thanks
21:02:19 SusanEttenheim: are you there arvind?
21:02:27 SusanEttenheim: hi Bron welcome!
21:02:50 SusanEttenheim: hi the lifeofsabi
21:02:50 BronStuckey: thx
21:02:52 SusanEttenheim:  welcome!
21:02:58 SusanEttenheim: bron can you hear ok?
21:03:04 BronStuckey: yes hear well
21:03:09 SusanEttenheim: great thanks!
21:03:15 BronStuckey: all good
21:03:17 SusanEttenheim: please introduce yourself – everyone!
21:03:23 SusanEttenheim: where and what do you teach?
21:03:52 BronStuckey: I teach teachers in using virtual worlds and social media  in learning
21:04:01 SusanEttenheim: ah welcome!
21:04:05 SusanEttenheim: where are you based?
21:04:08 SusanEttenheim: welcome back jenny
21:04:40 SusanEttenheim: thelifeofsabi- where and what do you teach?
21:04:52 BronStuckey: I am based in Australia but work for Indiana University with the Quest Atlantis team
21:04:58 Jenny: It was my earbuds – got you loud and clear
21:05:00 SusanEttenheim: ah yes!
21:05:05 SusanEttenheim: great jenny
21:05:12 SusanEttenheim: please introduce yourself!
21:05:17 SusanEttenheim: bron are you in australia?
21:05:30 BronStuckey: yes
21:05:45 Jenny: Jenny Brandon, rural West Tennessee, teach 2nd grade and 6th-8th after school, West Tennessee WRiting Project
21:05:46 SusanEttenheim: ahh well glad you are "here"
21:06:02 SusanEttenheim: welcome back jenny!
21:06:18 SusanEttenheim: sorry to show my bad geography – but are you ok with flooding?
21:06:19 thelifeofsabi: I’m currently attending Missouri State University to finish my Secondary English certificate. My undergrad is in Radio, TV, Film so I’m interested in using technology in the classroom.
21:06:31 SusanEttenheim: great welcome!
21:06:44 Larry Neuburger: MSU! Yoohoo
21:06:51 thelifeofsabi: πŸ™‚
21:07:06 Jenny: That’s Mississippi State at my house
21:07:18 SusanEttenheim: larry are you planting the audience…. πŸ˜‰
21:07:21 SusanEttenheim: πŸ™‚
21:07:29 SusanEttenheim: that’s a lame wink
21:07:35 Larry Neuburger: ot yet
21:07:46 Larry Neuburger: Not yet!
21:08:20 SusanEttenheim: welcome lifeof… feel free to jump in with comments and questions!
21:08:42 thelifeofsabi: Awesome, thanks. πŸ˜€
21:09:02 BronStuckey: graphic novels have appeal to kids reluctant to read
21:09:08 Jenny: lucky kids!
21:09:25 thelifeofsabi: And adults reluntant to read. hehe
21:09:31 BronStuckey: true
21:09:44 thelifeofsabi: or who can’t type with fake nails
21:09:50 SusanEttenheim: yikes
21:10:12 BronStuckey: good question
21:10:18 Jenny: I’d love to try to get students to transpose a "regular" novel into a series of Bitstrips!
21:10:52 SusanEttenheim: that’s an idea!
21:11:11 Larry Neuburger: Staple 12 Batman comics together and you have a graphic novel.
21:11:19 BronStuckey: he he
21:11:26 Jenny: Heavy duty stapler
21:12:23 Larry Neuburger:  http:/bit.ly/aUFFpG
21:12:31 BronStuckey: The real heart of the learning comes in students as developers/writers – when they create  the comic
21:14:39 thelifeofsabi: Should i be hearing anything at this time?
21:14:55 Jenny: yes
21:14:58 SusanEttenheim: yes! click on edtechtalk a
21:15:22 Kevin Hodgson: My own webcomic http://www.booleansquared.com/
21:18:18 Kevin Hodgson: Larry: focus on spelling and punctuation — mechanics, with comics
21:19:56 Larry Neuburger: Student examples: http://bit.ly/aUFFpG
21:20:05 Jenny: My peeps:
21:20:11 Jenny: http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/H_9rvYrf5cZovI7l3kqOtg?feat=directlink
21:20:34 SusanEttenheim: hi mslaneeus welcome! Please introduce yourself – where and what do you teach?
21:20:55 mslaneeus: I teach grade 6 in Kamloops, British Columbia.
21:21:03 thelifeofsabi: Bitstrips as team builders? Awesome.
21:21:04 SusanEttenheim: welcome!
21:21:23 mslaneeus: Thank you.  My name is Siobhan.  Glad to be here and sorry I’m late.\
21:21:35 SusanEttenheim: glad you’re here!
21:21:53 SusanEttenheim: where and what do you teach?
21:22:06 BronStuckey: I used to LUV htpercard
21:22:13 BronStuckey: *hypercard
21:22:19 Larry Neuburger: thelifeofsabi – OWP?
21:22:30 mslaneeus: @ Susan – mslaneeus = Siobhan
21:22:31 thelifeofsabi: This summer, Yes.
21:22:40 SusanEttenheim: yes
21:22:43 Larry Neuburger: Oustanding!
21:22:47 thelifeofsabi: I’m excited
21:22:51 thelifeofsabi: πŸ™‚
21:23:03 SusanEttenheim: what is owp?
21:23:09 Larry Neuburger: I’ll make some appearances.
21:23:13 thelifeofsabi: Ozark Writing Project
21:23:18 SusanEttenheim: ahhh πŸ™‚
21:24:00 thelifeofsabi: Great! We will have to shake hands. hehe
21:24:25 Paul Allison: http://www.griddleville.com/full/
21:25:22 thelifeofsabi: griddleville= awesome
21:25:29 thelifeofsabi: Great job.
21:25:41 Jenny: I believe I’ll be showing this at Project LEAD tomorrow!
21:25:47 mslaneeus: Love the music! πŸ™‚
21:28:56 Jenny: (chat room quiets as all watch griddleville)
21:29:20 thelifeofsabi: it’s too funny not to.
21:30:12 Jenny: I take back the "showing at Project LEAD" idea – a little too much cat mutilation, but hilarious!
21:31:45 SusanEttenheim: hi shelli welcome!
21:31:57 SusanEttenheim: please introduce yourself – where and what do you teach?
21:32:25 Shelli: Hi! I am Shelli, I teach in Osceola Missouri.
21:32:36 SusanEttenheim: what do you teach shelli and welcome!
21:32:47 Shelli: 7,8, 10, 12 grade English (sorry)
21:33:16 Shelli: and yourself?
21:33:29 SusanEttenheim: I’m in high school in NYC
21:33:31 SusanEttenheim: welcome!
21:33:46 SusanEttenheim: I teach elective classes – digital photography and computer and art
21:33:53 Larry Neuburger: Hi, Shelly!
21:33:57 SusanEttenheim: and do the technology and library
21:34:04 Shelli: Thanks. Hi Larry!
21:34:29 Jenny: Susan, What school?  I graduated from Mamaroneck HS (1975)
21:34:37 SusanEttenheim: glad you could join us! feel free to jump in with comments/questions
21:34:38 Jenny: so, so old
21:34:42 SusanEttenheim: ahh wow!
21:35:05 SusanEttenheim: I teach at Eleanor Roosevelt HS in Manhattan – this is our 8th year in existence
21:35:19 thelifeofsabi: SWSW is such a random venue but I’m sure it went over well.
21:35:23 SusanEttenheim: do you by any chance know Daniel Valenti?
21:35:25 Jenny: I have toenails older than that!
21:35:40 SusanEttenheim: I think she’s from your "neck of the woods" and is one of our teachers
21:35:48 Jenny: Nope, no Daniel
21:36:30 SusanEttenheim: ahh oh well welcome!
21:36:42 SusanEttenheim: so do you all use comics in your teaching?
21:37:07 Shelli: I have tried having students draw them, but not had much success
21:37:08 thelifeofsabi: I’m a fan of the Comic Life app on Mac but looking forward to learning more about Bitstrips
21:37:22 Jenny: We try them out after school – anything Kevin recommends, my student LOVE
21:37:34 mslaneeus: I definitely do.  Love to draw them on Chogger.
21:37:41 Jenny: Bitstrips is going over GREAT, but our last class is tomorrow
21:37:43 SusanEttenheim: jenny – lucky to be working with Kevin!
21:38:00 mslaneeus: Looking forward to trying bitstrips.
21:38:20 Jenny: Only work with Kevin by following his lead
21:38:26 Jenny: He’s in Mass, I’m in Tenn
21:38:36 SusanEttenheim: ahh ohhh right…
21:38:52 Jenny: Teacher Disasters?  What a GREAT idea!
21:39:39 Larry Neuburger: Student examples: http://bit.ly/aUFFpG
21:39:45 BronStuckey: Why the monthly subscription business model? Do ppl have to have accounts to view strips or only to make them? Can students collaborate remotely on one strip?
21:39:49 thelifeofsabi: I like the use of comic strips as a final assessment option for a unit.
21:40:15 BronStuckey: What was the name of the competitor tool?
21:40:32 Larry Neuburger: I used the comics as my final assessment of the Romeo & Juliet unit
21:40:37 Jenny: poetry and comics?  Whoa.  Kevin’s blown my mind again!
21:40:44 Jenny: oh no
21:41:04 Jenny: He’s blown his connection too!
21:42:26 Jenny: yes, I like the activity library, nice idea
21:43:25 thelifeofsabi: I tied a comic option into a science fiction unit.
21:44:35 Shelli: I have given the comic option with several units, and it is rarely taken up on.
21:44:42 BronStuckey: Can kids work remotely on the same strip? ir collbaorate at a distance?
21:45:01 Jenny: I would think they could by sharing a password
21:45:37 BronStuckey: what happens to strips after the subscription expires – can they be exported?
21:45:47 thelifeofsabi: I think I have a few boys who would love this option
21:45:59 Jenny: You could take a screenshot
21:47:16 Shelli: With this computer program, are you all working with kids that go home and have internet access, or is this done completely in class?
21:47:34 Jenny: I have only a few with access, very, very few
21:48:22 Jenny: My kids LOVED making their avatars and their families
21:48:28 Jacob: @BronStuckey – we’re adding a feature for the end of the year where the comics can be archived
21:48:37 Jenny: cool
21:48:39 BronStuckey: gr8
21:49:16 Jenny: I have 2 kids who are brother and sister, in differet sessions.  Brother found out that Sister had made an avatar of him.  His reaction was priceless!
21:50:05 thelifeofsabi: Jenny I bet.
21:50:07 thelifeofsabi: hehe
21:50:56 Jenny: I’m getting a million great ideas!  Too bad tomorrow’s the last day!
21:51:00 Jacob: @Shelli – the kids can log on at school, or from home
21:51:06 Shelli: woah…. my computer doesnt know that it likes this… I might have to log out and back on on the other computer- it’s a little more up to date, this one still thinks the internet is new and crazy
21:51:09 thelifeofsabi: I love the team building idea. I think it can have many funny outcomes.
21:51:22 Shelli: Tomorrows your last day?  We’re in through the end of May.
21:51:48 Jenny: The after school program ends tomorrow.  We finish the 26th
21:52:24 Jenny: Even though, few have access, they’ve been doing it
21:53:38 Jenny: I agree, really easy!
21:53:48 Larry Neuburger: Student work: http://bit.ly/aUFFpG
21:54:47 Shelli: Lets try this again.
21:55:07 Jenny: phew
21:55:48 Shelli: Oh wow! now there is sound coming off the other computer… what am I missing here?
21:56:11 thelifeofsabi: The power for students to do their own publishing
21:56:23 SusanEttenheim: can you hear now shelli?
21:56:35 BronStuckey: Sharing in a global context is where I work and this not being able to publish is a deal breaker for this tool
21:57:06 Shelli: ..no.  I lost the chat room on teh other computer, and got a few seconds of voices. I’ll keep fiddling with it
21:57:09 thelifeofsabi: Maybe only allow publishing of teacher saved projects?
21:57:13 Jenny: Okay, so I made my avatar (she’s much skinnier) and I like her hair so much, I’m taking her to my salon next week so I can look more like my avatar.  (I really really need some therapy)
21:57:22 thelifeofsabi: students pull from a folder.
21:57:25 thelifeofsabi: ?
21:59:15 SusanEttenheim: thoughts or questions from the chat room?
22:01:34 Jenny: I wish we could see their work to show administration!
22:01:56 mslaneeus: Is there a cost difference when ordering by bulk?  
22:02:12 Jenny: yep
22:02:20 BronStuckey: Teachers can find so many tools free online these days – what sets this tool apart to make people pay for it?
22:02:47 Jenny: a camp lasts a week or two
22:02:52 Jenny: you’d use the free account
22:03:04 thelifeofsabi: Or the teachers
22:03:49 Jenny: get the kids to a quarter a month?
22:04:02 Jenny: it could happen
22:04:06 mslaneeus: We only have about 320 students in our school next year.  We wouldn’t have the money either here in Kamloops.  Maybe if it’s in bulk.  We use Linux.
22:04:35 mslaneeus: Linux friendly?  
22:04:44 thelifeofsabi: Ning=ouch
22:04:50 Jenny: Don’t use the N-word!
22:05:59 Jenny: free access for 6 months?
22:06:22 Jenny: uh oh  what’s going on?  I’ve got two streams playing at the same time
22:06:44 Shelli: Maybe you have one of my streams?  
22:06:57 SusanEttenheim: oh dear
22:07:12 Jenny: ENOUGH WITH THE STREAMS ALREADY!  The flooding’s been insane here!
22:08:16 thelifeofsabi: Thanks for the info gentlemen.
22:08:45 SusanEttenheim: is everyone ok now?
22:08:48 Jenny: Thanks for the freebies and ther great work!
22:08:50 Larry Neuburger: TTYL
22:09:05 Jenny: OMG the show’s replaying and it won’t stop!
22:09:25 mslaneeus: Jenny your computer has a life of its own!
22:09:30 thelifeofsabi: Larry, have a great night
22:09:31 BronStuckey: thx
22:09:33 SusanEttenheim: yikes!
22:11:10 Jenny: think INSIDE the box
22:11:31 Shelli: Maybe next time, guys.  I really am interested in doing comics in a way other than hand drawn.  Thanks!
22:11:46 mslaneeus: Thanks everyone.
22:12:01 thelifeofsabi: Nice to meet all of you
22:12:02 Jenny: Bitstrips has been well received with my kids!  Thanks so much!

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