Posts Tagged ‘Chogger’

It’s been a while since I blogged. The end of term and my time at my last school and all it brought with it took up a lot of time and although I am beginning to get ready for my move to Worcestershire and am starting to be surrounded by boxes, I’ve decided to get back to the blog.

Today I’m going to introduce Toondoo, which is another option for those teachers who, like me, are fans of cartoons and comics and see how they can be used in the classroom. I have already blogged about various other options to make cartoons, (see my blog entries about Chogger, Make Beliefs Comix, Stripgenerator and Witty Comics and visit their pages to have a look at the various differences) and I’m not going to talk here about how comics can be used as I have discussed this already. All I will say is that it is a novel way to practice writing and reading skills rather than doing your standard writing in an exercise book or reading from a textbook.

Toondoo is another free site to join and use although you can pay to get certain extra features such as high resolution images. Toondoo offers a wide package of facilities including the ability to make books as well as comic strips. It also gives you the option to create your own doodles and pictures to add a personal touch to your comic and feels quite like Go Animate for cartoons in a way. There are certainly more options to Toondoo than the other comic strips creation tool sites that I have already blogged about, but this means that it could take longer to get used to using the various options and feel like you have mastered the comic creation process!

Once you have clicked on the ‘Sign up for free’ button at the top of the page and registered, you are ready to go. The image above will give you an idea of what you will have in front of you, and the options you have. If you click on either Toons or Books you will see ‘Create Toon’ or ‘Create Book’ which will probably be your first option unless you want to explore the kind of cartoons you can make with the search facility. Click on ‘Create toon’ to start with and the first thing you will have to decide on is the layout of your strip as seen below.

Having clicked on one of these options, you will then have a dashboard much like the GoAnimate or Domo Animate dashboards if you are familiar with these movie and comic creation sites. It will look like the image below:

The buttons on the left hand side of the dashboard (from top to bottom) will allow you to choose your characters, backgrounds, props, speech bubble options, brushmen (random other images), specials, ClipArt images and then other images that you have uploaded from your own gallery. Let’s start with characters – if you put your cursor over this button you will have a variety of options of different characters. grouped in various different categories (Men, Women, KIds, Animals/Birds, Sports etc) and they will have the same character in different poses which helps add range to your comic. Once you have found a character you like, click and drag into the panel where you want to put it. You also have a range of tools at the bottom of the dashboard which you can click on to adapt a selected image, for example changing its size, way it is facing, its position in relation to another object etc.

To add a background, hover over the background icon and drag the one you like into the relevant panel. The same process goes with objects and is similar with speech bubbles. The only difference with speech bubbles is that you just type your words into the bubble having elected the type of bubble you want. It is a very easy process, and you can delete mistakes simply by selecting the offending image and clicking delete on your keyboard. The best thing to do is just play around with it, but I haven’t found many problems with it nd when I showcased it in a lesson, the kids quickly caught on to how to use it and had no difficulties.

When you have finished, go to the top left hand icon and hover over the ‘Toondoo Start here icon’, and click Save. Give your cartoon a title and description and decide if you are going to make it public or private. You can also email it directly to those you want to send it to, perhaps the best way for your pupils to send you completed efforts that they have done. Click publish when you are done and then you can either see it (go to page) or print it out. Here is one I made as I was learning how to use Toondoo.

A bit silly, but nevermind! To find all your previous creations, go to the Toon menu at the homepage and click on ‘My Toons’ where you can still edit your toon if you need to.

For more questions or to get a more in depth view of how to use toondoo, you can go to this link for the Toondoo wiki.

Here are some other useful links:

Teachers’ guide

Slideshare How to use toondoo

More detailed step by step guide

Toondoo cartoon on how to use toondoo!

Please let me know if you have a go and sign up for Toondoo. Perhaps we can exchange links to cartoons.

 

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Today I thought I would do something slightly different; rather than introducing a new program or web 2.0 tool that could be employed in your lessons, I though I would deal with how you go about training or teaching pupils how to use them.

There are lots of time pressures on teachers at all the various Key Stages and the use of some of the tools I have blogged about previously could be seen by some as a luxury lesson. For example, it is all well and good to do a writing task by using a comic creator such as Chogger, Strip Generator or Toondoo (yet to be blogged about, it will happen!) but is this really the best way of getting pupils to write? Do pupils become obsessed about the layout of the cartoon and forget about the linguistic importance of the task they are charged with carrying out? Does humour take over from intellectual and educational relevance? Is it time effective or could pupils produce more work in the time available just by writing in their books in the traditional manner? What happens if things go wrong with the programme or website? What happens if pupils don’t like using computers or find it hard to work out how to use the tool effectively?

My first point is that by using cartoon generating tools you will stimulate interest in the task, and it is likely that pupils will make more of an effort to produce an entertaining and well made piece. The same is not necessarily true of yet another piece of written work in their exercise book, which doesn’t really spark much interest and can be trotted off in a rush. Any language production is worthwhile immediately, and the finished cartoons will almsot certainly be shown off to others in the class and be read by others. This hardly ever happens with exercise book work. A sense of competition, and the desire to outdo others could grow, and as long as you, the teacher, controls this competitive instinct and directs it towards target language production then better work will be elicited. It may be a luxury lesson, but it will in my opinion be productive and something that will enthuse and motivate your pupils. It doens’t have to be done every week, maybe once a term will suffice, and who knows, pupils may be inspired to do others independently.

The difficulty is perhaps teaching pupils how to use the tools without losing much time of the lesson and this is a key factor to debate. First of all, you have to be very confident in using the tool or application. You  have to anticipate what problems could arise, work out how you want everything to work and see what every button does before using it in a lesson, as the last thing you want is for some unsolvable disaster to occur which leaves you looking stupid as you try and work out why you can’t type into a speechbubble, or why something hasn’t saved. One method is to do a presentation demo infront of the class beforehand and restrict the features of the tool that they use. Another is to walk a class through their task step by step, giving a set time limit per stage of the task you are completing. Some kind of handout is probably necessary as well with a basic guideline for using a tool. This is something I will be doing during the summer holidays in fact.

There are various other options as well. Perhaps you could liaise with the IT department and see if they will teach some of the tools in their class. After school or lunchtime hobbies time will also be useful projects, though the downside is that not all pupils will become involved and some could get left behind. There is the chance that interest will spread if pupils enjoy the creative process. If finished projects such as animations, cartoons and videos can be embedded on well published and regularly viewable blogs or department webpages, others may be curious and encouraged to join in. Certainly using these tools in my opinion is an excellent way of  promoting TL use in language clubs for instance, where time pressures are not as restrictive.

In all situations, the most important thing to do is to do the preparation work first. Know WHY you are using the tool and WHAT you want the finished outcome to be. Know HOW it works and have the appropriate support ready fo the pupils. It helps a great deal to have the target language material prepared fully prior to using the tools you are going to use in the lesson, or requiring them to use in their homework.

So far I have had fair success with implementing certin tools. Edmodo has gone down a storm, but then it is very easy to use given its facebook like style and interface. Voki has also worked very well, and my chogger lesson was pretty successful, barring slow running internet issues which slowed the process down and led to rather rushed finished projects.

I am already thinking of how I will introduce the tools I use in my next school. This clean start seems an ideal time to begin properly. I think it will be very important to be organised before this, deciding which things to start with and not overloading pupils with too many things right away. I do intend to ask pupils to subscribe to certain sites immediately, certainly Edmodo and Voxopop to start with. I also would like to get every pupil going with their own blog page, and teach them how to embed their own videos, cartoons and so on as a lasting ‘folder’ of their efforts over the year. I just hope the computer systems at my new school will be reliable!

 

Stripgenerator is another comic strip creation tool. I’ve blogged about a couple of these already (see Chogger, Witty Comics and Make Beliefs Comix) and Stripgenerator works much the same as these. Basically, the main difference between them all is really the style of comic strip character and artwork that you want to produce. Stripgenerator has a fairly cool, alternative-type thing going which I quite like, and I would probably use this one more than Make Beliefs Comix perhaps, as it also gives you a variety of items to pick from as well as characters. I reckon boys particular would like the style of characters that Stripgenerator offers.

Signing up is as usual free, and little information is asked for apart from a username, email address and password. Signing up means you can hoard your comic creations in your gallery and use them whenever you want, rather than having to print them out immediately (or screencapturing them) as you need to do with Make Beliefs Comix. You can also find created comics by tags or description by using the search function. Completed comics can be embedded onto websites or emailed to pupils, the email option being good for pupils to send you their completed work without having to worry about printing problems (a common excuse at my school! – either paper is missing or printers are seemingly always broken!)

Creating the comic is easy. Just choose which character and items you want to use and drag them into the panels. You have a choice of how many panels you want to use, and the tools to adapt the images are very easy to use. Here is a rapid creation of mine that I made in about 5 minutes.

Quick and easy and cool looking as well. As I say, it is worth having a go with this comic creator as well as Chogger, Witty Comics and Make Beliefs (and probably others too!) to find out which you and your pupils most like and which is easiest to use for what you need.

As any of my old art teachers will tell you, or even some of my pupils who have had the misfortune to see my attempts at drawing on the whiteboard, my ‘art’ is ‘artbreakingly bad. I can’t draw very well at all, something which always disappointed me. Luckily there are a number of comic creating tools on the internet which solve this problem for me, as I enjoy using comics both as comprehension tools, and increasingly, as ways for pupils to produce language in a more fun way. I have a number of Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes Spanish comic books which I often photocopied and put on my door for pupils to read, or tippexed out the words and got them to write in new words for and now I can create my own.

My favourite one at the moment is Chogger. It took a little practise to get used to how it worked, and I found a few of the controls a little fiddly to begin with, but I really like the results it gives, and you have a lots of options to make your comics. In fact I used a chogger comic in a job interview I had, a job which I got! I used a comic to introduce the present subjunctive and one of its uses. Below is a picture of it, and you can see the whole thing here.

Signing up is free (you will see this trend of using free stuff developing – I think it is my natural Scotish miserliness!) When you have logged on, or accessed the site, click on ‘Build Comic Now’ and it will take you to the comic creator tool. Firstly you choose your layout for your strip, which gives a variety of comic panel options. Then you have the option of choosing your image. I tend to find pictures from the Google Images option, which gives you a massive choice of course, though you can also drw your own, take a photo or upload images you already have. Pictures taken from Google Images can be adapted to a small extent and once you have picked one you simply click ‘Add Image’ and it will be stored in the section in the top left corner with the shadowy head! The image can then be dragged and resized into the panels. To add speech bubbles, click on the bubble icon in the top left and then drag the type of bubble you want into the relevant panel. Then you can type into it, adjust the font size and size of the bubble and you then just continue the process until you have filled up your comic panels. For accents, you will have to use shortcuts, or cut and paste from a word document.

You can always add more panels if you find your comic beginning to expand from its original length. When you are done, simply click ‘finish’ and then give it a title and description to help you and others find it afterwards. This is the one downside I think of Chogger; the way of searching for comics is not ideal, you have to know what you are looking for. When you have clicked Publish, I strongly recommend copying and pasting the URL at the top of the page and save it somewhere to help you use it again. Obviously you can print them out as well, but in my view Chogger needs to sort out how your comics are stored in a more organised fashion, possibly on your profile page for instance. Hopefully this is something they will improve.

My 4th form had a go at making Chogger comics and it worked really well. I did it in a language lab lesson so I could show them how to do the fiddly bits with speech bubbles. Be ready to stop the faffing around looking for loads of images but apart from that they can produce nice looking comic strips in a very short period of time. It is an easy way to do lots of written tasks and better than simply just setting a fairly standard written prep, especially for younger age groups perhaps.

As always, if you do any chogger cartoons and wish to share, please let me know!