I eventually got round to buying a copy of Comic Life for PC, from the good folk at TAG Learning on my recent visit to BETT, and having installed it on my laptop, am all geared up to use it as part of my Assessment For Learning toolbox.
In school we keep classroom scrapbooks, where we have begun to use digital photographs alongside written or scribed records of "snippets" from student talk to help tell learning stories. "Narratives of Learning" have been a key feature in my research work, forming the basis for data analysis, as well as acting as a vehicle to share my work with others. Classrooms are multimodal places, and context is key to using "data forms" we collect there. I have come to see learning and teaching events as acts of shared meaning making, where language is the primary mediating tool. Working with young children the ways in we share meanings and negotiate common understanding is usually through tool mediated talk and activity. Despite our knowledge that talk and effective questioning is often more revealing about the processes that students engage in when learning, than the material they record, we still seem to have a strong drive to ensure that what the students do is logged, even if as a dated sentence. What is missing from this as from previous methods of recording progress, tick lists and charts, is frequently the process that lead to the outcome, and the success of the child however small. The joy, the excitement, the disappointment, the shock so readily visible in the faces and gestures of the student, or the gusto and energy that students apply to the tasks they "do," followed perhaps by the surprise or pride in something believed to be so difficult suddenly achievable. Somehow all of this magic, the moments that bring joy not only to the class but that in my opinion, make classroom teaching so worthwhile and exciting, are rarely so transparent or the richness of the experience we shared evident when we look through our exercise books.
I have been incredibly excited by our Class Podcasts and Blog that have begun to inject a student voice literally into the recording system. Context driven activities with a sense of purpose and audience, that have begun to help both my students and myself engage with self review and evaluation, and are beginning through collaborative action to support a growing digital record of the "long Conversation" we have as teachers and learners. I am increasingly aware however that these objects, do not fit into the world of outcome driven assessment. What of the process behind these, the journey and the long conversation hidden behind and that lead to them. Well perhaps tools such as Comic Life can begin to offer me some scaffolding for this.
In PE this term we have been developing "passing and receiving" skills through the playing and designing of simple invasion games, and this week the students have been working in small groups to create their own, with the development in our next session of jigsawing to share our games with each other. The genuine learning experiences that have lead to this would be lost witho0ut the means to log or record them. Armed with digital camera, I had initially thought about creating a PowerPoint Learning story, and then as previously, using PowerPoint for Mac to change these into a video format to share with others. Instead I have opted to use Comic Life, with the students to create comic strips that tell the story behind their game and how it is played. My Numeracy Group require a great deal of practical work and consolidation, and their activities too are often transient mediated by recordings on Dry wipe whiteboards, through talk and the apparatus they use. These experiences are no less important to them as learners, than the need to show progress through written recording. As can be seen in previous posts, these processes too I have been frequently logged using digital Photographs and PowerPoint. I have pondered today, on how the practice of foundation stage colleagues might help me to log these events and processes. Using "post it" notes to record children's talk as we work, that can later be used to annotate digital photographs in Comic Life through the addition of speech and thought bubbles.
Comic Life affords a number of means of publication for the strips developed. They can either be printed out on completion, for inclusion in our scrapbook, or exported to html, for inclusion in our website community pages, adding another means of sharing our activity with carers. On interesting format, that I haven't had a go with yet, is the ability to export as movie. This will be something to play with later.