Gearing up for my Odyssey unit, I’ve been searching the Internet for a creative way to engage my students using technology while tackling a challenging read. While looking, I stumbled across Spore Comic Creator, a free online application that you can use to bring Homer’s rich language alive by creating custom comic books. With this online application, students can go beyond visualizing the battles with giant cannibals, the treachery in the cave of a barbaric Cyclops, and the terror of the man-eating Scylla–they can turn the words to images and at the same time learn to recognize and understand the function of metaphors, similes, epic similes, and vivid sensory details in the text.
You can also encourage your students to create entire new adventures for Odysseus. Spore Comic Creator gives students the tools to create entire universes complete with unique backgrounds, unusual buildings and structures, vehicles, strange creatures, monsters, and many different objects. This mostly sci-fi setup is pretty easy to learn, but you should probably explore it a bit before setting your kids loose. Students can create their own accounts and save their work, print it, or email it. As always, consult your school’s acceptable use policies and be sure students are protecting their identities online. You’ll also want to make sure your school’s computers have the latest version of Adobe Flash Player installed. Once the students are busy, you’ll see there is no limit to how they can create, explore, and even practice original story telling. They can create just one page to illustrate a scene or they can create several and thus put together an entire graphic novel. They can also customize their projects with music, video, and text, so while encouraging creativity, you can also require they demonstrate their knowledge/understanding of the text with these elements.
I’m working on a lesson plan with Spore Comic Creator tied to the Common Core Standards for my students reading the Odyssey. As soon as it’s done, I’ll post it in the lesson plans section of this site. Meanwhile…have fun with your students creating comic books and graphic novels!
Other Comic Creating Applications:
Make Beliefs — This one is simple but fun. You can print or email but saving is a bit complicated (see tutorial); multilingual; lots of character choices.
Comic Master — Comic Master is a little more teen-oriented than Make Beliefs. With this one you can create an account and save pages. Comic Master also has a links to complex, in-depth lesson plans and other resources.