Breathe Some Humor into Your Drab Routine with Pixton Comics for Education

Pixton comics has been around for only a few years now and it’s no surprise that they have won many ed-techy awards in their short lifespan. But it took just a half an hour before I  became instantly hooked.

Pixton allows students and teachers can create their own highly-customizable comic strips with unlimited options, scenes, characters, poses, props, and backgrounds. The uses for these strips are manifold, but Pixton does a great job of making them user-friendly and purposeful. They provide a community where users can submit their comics to showcase learning, comment on , and remix other strips.

Teachers can make their own (as seen below) and assign students projects based on the strip. Students can remix them, or make their own. They can add panels, re-edit an already published strip, work collaboratively, and get approval from their teacher once their project is complete.  Teachers can also monitor student progress and manage their classes, assignments and grades.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Pixton also allows users to print, download and (thankfully) embed their creations. For ELL’s the potential here is truly exciting. Students in groups or individually can add appropriate dialogue, even record their own audio tracks to correspond to each panel, or type content into speech bubbles to illustrate real-life scenarios, for example.  Ideas like these keep bubbling  like effervescent bursts of inspiration when one plays with Pixton.  Give it a shot here for a trial period.

Yeah, the downside is that it costs money. But It’s not out of this world, and one teacher could afford to make one account that allows up to four users. These could be set up as teams of students. The above strip will be part of a CELDT practice module that will soon be available for download.



Cognates = Cognados

It is amazing how many  students whose home language is Spanish and who come equipped with decent language skills in that language habitually misspell English words that are identical to their Spanish cognates.  Cognates  refers to words that are spelled similarly or identically in two languages and carry the same meaning.



etcetera= etcetera

I first noted the problem in my first year of teaching; students would write about their favorite calors and about the animols in zoo. Ever since I’ve been teaching them about cognates, how to identify them and how to tell the false ones like grocery and embarrased,   which don’t translate into grocería and embarazada .

These recourses are a good starting point: offers hundreds of different cognate pairs in English and Spanish sorted by different criteria such as endings, ABC, and by subject. They claim to have a comprehensive, searchable list. Very impressive stuff!

Delivered correctly, these cognates can help students unlock hundreds of vocabulary words that they probably already know in their home language. Many of these turn out to be part of the “academic vocabulary” that so eludes ELLs.

Colorin-Colorado also has a useful list at the end of their ELL Starter Kit for Educators, available as a downloadable PDF. It comes at the back page of an assessment packet for those who want a quick start to evaluating the language level of their ELL Students.

For a short list of false cognates click here!

To read more check out the Literacy Beat blog.

Mobile Tech in Classrooms Boost English Learners – New America Media

Mobile Tech in Classrooms Boost English Learners – New America Media.

This past summer  New America Media  featured a zapaTECHISTA classroom in a news piece about the benefits and uses of mobile learning devices in a classroom filled with English Language Learners. Jacob Simas and Vivian Po, two reporters for NAM, the collaborative journalism project that brings together over 2000 ethnic media outlets, visited our Hayward, CA 6th grade classroom as the year was winding down to interview students, teachers, and the principal to get a handle on the issue of whether using mobile devices in classrooms can really begin to bridge the digital divide.

Here is a link to the full article: