Recently I was inspired to teach a small unit on children’s literature to my eighth grade students. The goal was to understand how children’s authors use plot, illustrations, and characters to tell a story that captivates their audience. After reviewing many children’s books in small groups, students collaborated on a Google Slide deck to discuss techniques that authors used, finding what was similar among their group. After discussing as a whole class, we prepared to write. Students brainstormed ideas based on personal experience and shared a story. We focused on our feelings during this time, which truly helped the students embrace how their audience might feel. After sharing, students began to plot their story and write the words.
Once the students finished writing the story, they began to break it up onto different slides, often just a simple sentence or two per slide. Next, they began to illustrate. Our school has touchscreen Chromebooks with Android support, so we installed Autodesk Sketchbook. After a bit of trial and error, students became very comfortable with the interface. Some students found it to be a bit difficult to draw with because they were used to physical media, but they enjoyed the experience nonetheless. Others were finally able to express their creativity because of the tools and ease of erasing in case mistakes were made. Students didn’t have to keep drawing their main character. They only needed to draw things once on a transparent background, and then they could insert them wherever they needed to be with some modifications. Each image was then placed on their Google Slides
Finally, the students were able to share them with the kindergarten class at our school. These kindergartners were so excited to have real authors visit them! The eighth graders felt a sense of accomplishment as well, being able to create for and be appreciated by an authentic audience!
Here are two examples that I am able to share:
And lastly, here is a video where I show what Autodesk Sketchbook is and how you can draw with it. Bear in mind, I am not an artist (yet). I know that with practice, I can become even better. This was a quick sketch that was actually better than anything I have ever drawn before!
And my finished product from a previous video that didn’t get recorded:
I am a firm believer that if you give children the tools to be successful, they will exceed your expectations. Too often we constrain their abilities and force them to create with our tool. Children are creative; we need to help them build that!