Take a look in the Bitstrips Art Library and you’ll find some handy new items – a whole laboratory full of scientific equipment! New stuff includes: lab desks and stools, bunsen burner, microscope, various beakers and flasks, and even the periodic table of the elements. You can find them all together in the new Science Room scene – just check out the Scenes tab in the Art Library.
Now the possibilities truly are endless! Starting today, students can add their own photos to comics, or choose from thousands of copyright-free images in the Flickr Commons!
To upload a photo from a hard drive or memory stick, open the Comic Builder and go to the new Images tab in the Art Library. Then click the Upload Image icon and choose the file you want to import.
Once it’s done uploading, just drag the image from the library into your comic panel, just like you would with a scene or prop! You can find every image you upload under My Images until you delete it.
If you can’t find the image you need in your own library, try the new Flickr Commons search bar. Simply choose ‘Flickr’ under the Images tab, type what you’re looking and hit Search. Then browse through the results and drag the image you want into your comic.
By default, you’ll find Image Uploading enabled for your classes. If you’d like to disable it, or enable image sharing, go to the Settings tab and check (or uncheck) appropriate boxes.
You may have noticed that characters on Bitstrips for Schools suddenly have a bit more spring in their step – it’s thanks to an amazing new feature that changes the way kids can make comics! Now every character is like a fully articulated action figure, with the ability to take on any pose imaginable. Body language adds a whole layer of meaning that goes beyond words – so now students can make their comics more expressive than ever! The best part is, posing characters is incredibly easy and fun to do.
To manually pose a character, just double-click on it – the yellow highlight around the character and faded background lets you know you’re in ‘Pose Mode’, where you can click on any body part and move it independently. You can also stack arms above or below the body or head, to fine-tune your pose – start by clicking the arm you want to move, and then use the ‘Move Behind’ or ‘Move In-Front’ buttons on the lower toolbar.
When you’re finished posing, double-click anywhere else in the panel to exit Pose Mode. You can still use any of the pre-set poses from the character control panel at any time, for fast and easy posing.
The Bitstrips for Schools team is thrilled to unlock the power of unlimited body language, and we can’t wait to see what students do with it!
Bitstrips for Schools is a featured resource this month in the National Writing Project’s Spotlight on Literacy!
The NWP is a unique network of over 200 colleges and universities that works directly with school teachers across America (and beyond) to improve student learning and writing. It’s the largest teacher development program in history and the leader in researching the most effective methods for teaching writing. Students of teachers who use the NWP’s professional development programs perform better than their peers in every measured aspect of writing.
We’re thrilled to be counted among the literacy resources on their site, and are excited to welcome all of the new NWP teachers using Bitstrips for Schools as a writing tool in their classrooms!
Join the effort to make sure that the National Writing Project continues to receive direct federal funding.
We recently discovered Reading With Pictures, a new non-profit whose mission is nothing less than to “utterly revolutionize the role of comics in education.” They believe that comics have a vital role to play in improving childhood literacy, and we wholeheartedly agree. Led by the award-winning comic writer and artist Josh Elder, Reading With Pictures holds workshops at schools across the US, showing educators how comics can engage kids in reading in a way unlike any other medium.
Comics have come a long way since we were in school, making the unlikely transition from contraband to curriculum material. But there’s still a lot of work to do, and Josh’s team is making sure the momentum keeps building – by overseeing the biggest-ever study on the role of comics in education, as well as producing what promises to be an amazing anthology of original comics made specifically for use in schools.
The anthology is due out this summer, but needs all our help to get published. Their fund-raising goal is $10,000 – a donation of just $15 gets you a signed soft-cover edition for your school library when it comes out, $150 gets your likeness on the back cover, and $250 gets you and a friend added as characters in one of the stories! You can also buy school packages at a big discount.
Naturally, we love what they’re doing, and encourage everyone to support their work by reserving their copy of The Reading With Pictures Anthology!
Open up the character builder, and you’ll find some nifty new threads in the wardrobe! Every clothing category has been expanded, with even more to come in the months ahead. So spruce up your avatar with a fresh new look today!
Another new feature we’ve added, by popular request, is the option to add multiple ‘tails’ to any text bubble. You can access this feature from the text bubble controls while using the Comic Builder.
Last but not least, the Art Library now includes a better system for sorting props, furniture and backgrounds – check out the ‘collections’ list to see a new set of categories that will make it much easier to find specific objects.
We hope you and your students enjoy these new features – meanwhile, we have even more exciting upgrades in store, coming very soon! Keep watching this space for updates…