Gamics.com - A site dedicated to comics in English made machinima style (from the backgrounds and avatars of popular videogames). These would make interesting examples for similar student projects.
All your students need to make a comic strip is access to Microsoft Word and a digital camera!
1) Open a new document.
2) Give the document a title.
3) Save the document somewhere you can find it again later.
4) Click View, Toolbars, Drawing (should be checked). This will put a drawing toolbar at the bottom of your screen.
5) Click Insert, Picture from file, then find the photo you want to use and click okay.
6) Click on the picture, then click Format, Picture, Layout, Tight.
7) Resize the picture by clicking on it, then mousing over the little box in one of the corners until a two-way arrow appears. Hold the left click button down and move your mouse until the size of the picture is what you want, then let go.
8) You can frame your picture by clicking on the picture, then clicking the little paintbrush in your drawing toolbar and selecting the color you want. You can change the thickness of the line by clicking on the line button and then on the thickness you want.
9) Click Autoshapes, the double arrow at the bottom of the list, Callouts, then pick the speech bubble you want. Now left click on the picture where you want a speech bubble to appear, and while still hold the left click button down, drag your mouse until you see a speech bubble appear.
10) To reposition the speech bubble, click on it, then click on the dotted lines around it and drag it where you want. To type inside the speech bubble, click in it, then type, then click elsewhere on the screen so the text will stay in the bubble.
11) To group the speech bubble and the picture together so that when you move it, it all moves together, click on the white arrow in your drawing toolbar. Now position your cursor just above the upper, left-hand corner of the picture, left click, and drag the mouse until you see little dotted lines appearing. Keep dragging until the dotted lines form a box around the whole picture, then let go. White dots should appear around the picture and all the speech bubbles you have inserted. Now go to your drawing toolbar and click Draw, Group.
12) Be sure to save periodically.
Tools & Resources
Ashkenas, Joan. Comics and conversation: Using humor to elicit conversation and develop vocabulary. Studio City, CA: Jag Publications. ISBN 0-943327-12-1. One of a series of three books filled with reproducible blackline masters of wordless stories told through cartoons.
Comic Life - The ultimate in comic book creation software--flexible, functional, inexpensive, and intuitive--students can create their own comics based on digital photos they've taken (Free 30-day trial available. Unfortunately, only compatible with Macs)
Comic Book Creator - Software similar to Comic Life for the PC (Free 30-day trial available)
Comic Rubric - An outstanding rubric created by professional graphic novelist, Gene Yang, for assessing the formatting aspects of students' graphic novel projects. (From Gene Yang)
Comics & Graphic Novels - Links to information about using comics in education, free comic creation sites, sources for online comics, and other resources and materials related to comics and graphic novels.
Strip Generator - A phenomenal site with stock characters that will appeal to students and allows them to create truly original work
Low-tech Alternative: Students can cover the speech bubbles of existing comic strips with blank paper (or white out) and insert their own text. They can also draw their own comics on blank white paper, or they can draw their own speech bubbles for people they cut out of magazines and paste onto their blank paper.