Sunday, November 4, 2007

ToonDoo project for Block Eight

I have already created a wiki for a grade nine class to share their ideas about the Snow Willow Award nominees. This is a project which uses some Web 2.0 tools to “foster active student engagement, discussion and creative outputs” as asked for in Block Eight, The Screen Writer. I am anxiously waiting for the teacher and class to be ready to begin the project with me. Therefore I am not going to design another project with the books we read earlier in this class. However, the site I used for the project I am going to talk about could easily be adapted for a “revisioned” book report or book talk.

While waiting to begin my wiki project, I have worked with another class of seven grade nine students in our learning disability program. They had just completed a study of short stories. They had learned about the parts of a short story and analyzed several. One of the sites their teacher had found useful with them is the plot diagram tool on the Read Write and Think site.
As well as plot, they learned about theme, setting, and character. The teacher was looking for way they could demonstrate their learning without having them write a short story. I introduced her to the online cartoon making site ToonDoo and she jumped at the chance to use this with her students.

For the first lesson we studied the graphic novels in our library collection and learned basic terminology like panels, gutters, and text. We looked at the different ways to show motion and time passing. Next, we studied the ways to add text as speech, thought, narration and sound effects. Then we examined different panel layouts. Finally we looked at the variety offered by the “camera angles” that are used: close ups, over the shoulder view, bird’s eye view, bug’s eye view, long shot, medium shot, and extreme close up.

The second step was for the students to set up an account on ToonDoo ( using a pseudonym or pen name. I gave a brief explanation the features on ToonDoo and then they were allowed to explore and play for an extended period. They were excited by what they discovered and created and were constantly sharing, comparing, and showing each other how to work the program. It was important for the next step that the students be familiar with what was available for backgrounds, objects, characters, etc. in ToonDoo.

For the next session, I prepared a graphic organizer for the students to plan their ToonDoo cartoon. They had to describe the time, place, and atmosphere of the setting, name and characterize the protagonist and antagonist, and diagram the plot with the opening, rising action, climax, falling action and denouement. This was difficult for the students but a necessary step to get them beyond just playing with three panel cartoons to developing a “ToonBook” or full length story told in cartoon format.

They were very happy to get back onto the computers and create their cartoon stories. I gave reminders to employ the techniques we had talked about earlier like different camera shots and ways to use text. The program is limited in the shots that can be created but we did achieve some variety.

The students have very much enjoyed this project and are very close to “publishing” their final project after five one hour sessions.

One of the features of ToonDoo is that you can comment on other people’s creations and rate them. You can save your own and others as favourites in “galleries”. There are sections for ‘Most viewed”, “Editor’s picks”, “Most argued”, etc. This encourages an online community commenting and collaborating about cartoons. Students are publishing their creative expression in a public forum, receiving feedback and critically evaluating others’ work.

Students found this project enjoyable and motivational. The teacher was delighted with their engagement, creativity and demonstration of learning from their short story unit. I was pleased to be able to incorporate an introduction to our graphic novel collection, knowledge I have gained through this class, and just plain fun in this project. One final note I could make is that a Mosaic Down Syndrome student is integrated in that class with and assistant and he experience great success with this project. I highly recommend this project and the ToonDoo site for which I see endless educational applications.


DesRoches Family News said...

OK... this is just too awesome! I can hardly wait to share this project with the teachers in my school division.

I have not used ToonDoo at all but I am looking forward to exploring this program.

Thank you for this great lesson plan!


Jane Glen said...

I'm with Donna- what a project! I will look into ToonDoo as well and see what the possibilities are. I think that hearing yours and Diane's ideas is so inspiring, as I feel I've really lagged on this last assignment, but hopefully it will keep the wheels turning for future use.

Chris Arnstead said...

nThank you for the positive feedback. However, I couldn't have done it without you! The resources and support of this class is where I learned the required knowledge and received the inspiration for that project. Let me know if you would like the graphic organzers Donna. I would be happy to share them.

Jane, you have a lot of ideas mulling around in your head. When the situation presents itself the idea and the assignment or the technology tool and the lesson etc. will just click together. Don't feel that you are lagging behind, inspiration will come: a teacher will make a request, you'll read a book, it'll come to you.


Jane Glen said...

You know, I hate to see the collaborative part of this come to an end- so often we work alone, and here we are so inspired by each other. I looked at your Wiki again and this year, I'm just using my blog for the comments on the book, but next year, I'll try a Wiki.
I hope you keep posting some of your ideas- it's been great. Thanks for the encouragement.

bookmarks said...

Just super Chris!! I too will explore the ToonDoo site and see how I can adapt it. You've done a wonderful job! I've appreciated all the sharing you've done along with everyone else and your supportive comments! Inspiring!!

Carlene Walter said...


You continue to amaze me!
As soon as I read your post, I investigated ToonDoo and will try it with my middle level students next week!

Could you send the graphic organizers to me as well?

I look forward to continually visiting your blog for more inspiring ideas!

Carlene Walter said...

Hello Chris,

Just tried to send you an email, but it bounced back. I am posting my message here instead:

Wow! Where has the time gone?

It is November 18th and the date signals the formal end of Meet The Stars. The finale has caused a reflection of the beginning - the seed of an idea that Donna and I developed over a summer luncheon at Earls. The overarching goal was to provide teacher-librarians a series of interconnected, situated, and sustained experiences to construct new practices through experimentation and reflection. How could we cultivate literacy skills (print and nonprint) and exploit the benefits of emerging technologies to teacher-librarians - a group who are critical in the development and engagement of the twenty-first learner? Characterized by creating, collaborating, connecting, and conversations, the blocks of learning began to emerge. Donna and I expressed the horrid thought that no one would enrol. Imagine our surprise, when eighty emails expressing interest were received the first day!

Throughout Meet The Stars, Donna and I have been amazed at your practical and scholarly insights about how the technology use can support meaningful inquiry. We thank you for your time and effort.

The wiki will remain available for those who wish to revisit or complete blocks, Donna and I will also periodically visit your blogs to post a comment or to provide assistance if needed.
Please do not hesitate to send an email.

Donna and I, the Disruptive Innovators, will keep you abreast of new professional learning adventures. Your survey responses will help formulate our next offering.

We look forward to meeting each of you in another professional endeavour.