StoryboardThat.com is a comic strip/graphic novel/storyboard creator. I did the free trial with my 4th grade students and had them create three panel storyboards of Colonial Life. First students had to do some research on a separate worksheet that I created. The objective was to highlight keywords in the questions and use nonfiction text features to answer them quickly and efficiently. I wrote the directions for opening and using StoryBoard That. Once their research was completed, I demonstrated creating a storyboard on the SmartBoard while students followed written instructions and directed me to click on appropriate tabs. Students then worked on their own storyboards creating text bubbles based on their research. As a librarian, I have students for 30 minutes a week. Once announcements are made and books exchanged, more like 18 minutes! Once research was done, most students were able to create 3 panel storyboards within 2 class periods. Finding a presentation tool that my students could learn and actually use within a short time period was a huge bonus. (No spending hours looking for appropriate copyright free clipart and uploading etc etc).
Probably the most appealing feature of storyboardthat is the variety and accessibility of scenes and characters. There is a specific US History Settings tab as well as a 1600 to 1800s Character tab. Most of my students can spend endless amounts of time just clicking on every tab and option. By providing content specific time periods, my students were able to finish their projects within a reasonable time. Additionally, if they chose an incorrect scene, it was very easy to use mistake as learning opportunity, “What would a farmer wear? Which character’s dress comes close to what a Puritan might wear to church? or my favorite, “Do you think Native Americans had purple hair dye?” One my students changed the skin color to dark brown for her panel about slaves not being allowed to go to school. My free trial expired before I could provide a direct link, but I did get a screen shot of my students’ work. (Enable editing to make full screen and text bubbles legible.)