Tech Tool of the Month: Make Beliefs Comix – Part 1

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Make Beliefs Comix is a web resource that allows you to create original comics. Comics can be printed, saved locally, or shared via email or social media. This site also features printable comics, comic starters, writing activities, suggestions for students with special needs, and more.

Applying the Triple E Framework

The Triple E Framework, created by Dr. Liz Kolb, is built on the belief that “effective technology integration begins with good instructional strategies and not fancy tools” ( Dr. Kolb wrote a book on the topic, Learning First, Technology Second (ISTE, 2017), that lays out the three main uses for technology in education: to Engage, Enhance, or Extend learning goals. We can use this framework to decipher why we are using specific tools in the classroom. Here is a rubric based on the Triple E Framework you can use to evaluate whether Make Beliefs Comix (or any other technology) is a good fit with your learning goals and whether you should use it in your lesson.

  • Engage in learning goals: When using Make Beliefs Comix, students take on the role of active learners, creating their own original comic strips rather than just reading comics that others have created. Make Beliefs Comix motivates students to begin the learning process by engaging them with a variety of ready-to-go comics and providing options in Create Comix! that allow them to personalize their creations. 
  • Enhance learning goals: Make Beliefs Comix creates paths for students to demonstrate their understanding of learning goals by using comics in a way that would be more challenging without technology. This tool enhances learning goals because it allows students to demonstrate a more sophisticated understanding of the content by creating their own original comics. 
  • Extend learning goals: Dr. Kolb describes extended learning as an opportunity for students to learn, connect, and collaborate outside of the regular school day and as a bridge between the school day and real-life experiences. This tool would work with flipped, blended, and remote learning lessons, as students could complete the comics at home or in school. We are preparing our students for a world that doesn’t exist yet, but most jobs do require independent motivation and knowledge of technology. Make Beliefs Comix allows students to practice skills they will use in the future, as many classes and careers will require students to use technology and to work through various steps of lessons or projects to completion.

SAMR Connection

The SAMR Model, by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, suggests that technology implementation has four levels. We can use this model as a guideline to analyze how we’re using technology tools in the classroom. Make Beliefs Comix, depending on how it is used, can be at the level of Substitution, Augmentation, or Modification.

  • Substitution: At this level, the technology acts as a direct substitute without providing functional improvements. You could use Make Beliefs Comix at this level by simply printing a comic strip for students to write on, which does not require students to use technology. 
  • Augmentation: At the level of augmentation, the technology acts as a direct substitute and includes some functional improvements. Make Beliefs Comix is available in more than 10 languages, offering functional improvements for students speaking those languages by giving them the ability to read and understand the activity options on the site. This tool also reaches this level when students create their own comics. Users can add images and text, flip comic panels, add up to 18 new panels, click and move the comic panels to other places in the story, and more. Many of these features would not be possible without technology 
  • Modification: The level of modification allows us to make (or modify) the activity into something more integrated with technology, meaning there is significant task redesign. There are many ways that Make Beliefs Comix could reach the level of modification. For example, students could use this tool to create comics that provide a summary of a text that they read in a unique way, using the features available on the site to summarize the story, share information about the plot or characters, and more. 

Don’t miss Part 2 of the Tech Tool of the Month: Make Beliefs Comix, where we’ll discuss how to use the tool and introduce ways to use it in the classroom. In the meantime, let us know in the comment section below how you have used Make Beliefs Comix in your education setting.

About the author: Melissa Henning

Melissa Henning is the Educational Content Manager for Source for Learning, the non-profit parent company of TeachersFirst. She has over 16 years of experience in education. Melissa is a frequent presenter at national and regional conferences.

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