Thursday, October 22, 2009
Bitstrips Energize Learning
The Ontario Ministry of Education has paid $180,000 for a license to use the cartooning software Bitstrips for its schools this year. Many educators think that this is money well spent to energize learning especially for boys.
In provincial test results girls perform better in reading and writing, a 'gender gap' that has shown up for five years straight. Grade 6 boys lagged female counterparts in writing by 27 per cent last year.
Comics help to pique boys' interest in school says Jennifer Rowsell, an education professor at Rutgers University who studies comics and literacy. "If you stick with the beloved five paragraph essay, you're not going to speak to boys."
There is already evidence that the program is working. Students log onto the site at school and each have a password. Students can see each other's work and talk to their teacher, but are invisible to the rest of the Net.
Founders of the site, Toronto based Jacob Blackstock and Jesse Brown, are excited about the "explosion of creativity" which is occurring. Students now make about 2,500 comics a day. Teachers are saying, "I don't have to convince the students to do their work."
Bitstrips can be part of dynamic balanced learning where students are involved in researching, note-taking, and communicating information.
Doug P. is an enthusiastic supporter of the initiative. Globe and Mail's Susan Krashinsky writes an informative article.