By Catherine Perry, November 7, 2006

Grade Level

  • Middle School


  • Other

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts
  • Technology

Lesson Time

Eight or nine forty-five minute class periods


In this lesson, students will create their autobiographies which can then be presented online on a blog website, enabling the students to express themselves to the larger system of online communities. This lesson will help students learn how to utilize technology in order to create an attractive, eye-catching website that expresses aspects of their personality and tells their life story.

National Standards


Students will be able to:
  • create a graphic autobiography integrating images, graphics, and text
  • work within the structure of the programs Comic Life and Photoshop
  • integrate the Principles of Design: Balance, Rhythm, Proportion, Emphasis, and Unity; as well as the Elements of Art: Line, Color, Texture, Shape, Form, Space, and Value


  • comic books
  • computers containing the programs Comic Life, Photoshop, PowerPoint
  • Internet access
  • projector for the computer screen
  • scanners


  • sketchpads
  • HB pencils
  • fine-line markers
  • loose-leaf/notebooks
  • pens




Class 1. Hand out various types of comic books and graphic novels. Have students identify the narratives within the plot and any of the Principles of Design/Elements of Art within the images. Have them write a summary of the narrative and make a list of the Principles of Design/Elements of Art that they find, and how they were shown. Class 2. Tell the students that they are going to create an autobiographical comic book or graphic novel. Instruct them to individually brainstorm a list of major events and/or experiences in their lives and write them down. Have them use this list in order to flush out their ideas into paragraph form to use as a memoir. As homework, have the students edit their work for spelling, grammar, and content. Teacher note: You may want to choose how many memories or experiences the students can elaborate on for their comic book. Class 3. Have students sketch ideas for symbols and images they associate with memories on their list of experiences. Encourage them to bring in photos from these times to represent their memories. They can also look through magazines and comic books for images that already exist. Class 4. Have students choose their most effective images and begin to structure a rough draft of a storyboard in their sketchpads. Classes 5-7. With the computers, show a sample of a finished product in the Comic Life program, wherein photos and images from Photoshop appear with text about the events from the brainstormed list. Allow students plenty of time to experiment with the capabilities of Comic Life and give demonstrations when necessary. Once they have brought in photos from home, drawings, sketches, and magazine images they may do the same with Photoshop. Teacher note: Throughout the project, have students present their works-in-progress to each other and hold a class critique. The students should use the constructive criticism to help them edit their comic books. Class 8. Students will then compile the written memoirs and the comics onto a blog, such as Blogspot or one of their choice (if your school allows blogging). Class 9. Then have students structure a PowerPoint presentation of their finished products in order to present to the class. Have a final class critique and then present the comic books to the school community for a collective exhibit.


3-point rubric for computer graphics using Principles of Design and Elements of Art. Differentiated instruction:
  • Students with writing difficulties may use Voice Recognition in the case of transferring their story into the computer.
  • Kinesthetic learning through keyboarding and other computer/technological skills

Enrichment Extension Activities

For additional inspiration, research comic or graphic novel websites. Research websites that will allow submissions for posting.

Teacher Reflection

  • Student success hinges on a certain comfort level with technology. If needed, peer instruction/cooperative learning may be utilized in order to allow students to familiarize themselves with computer programs when they are paired with more technologically savvy students.
  • The assessment revealed that students learned more about the function of computers in order to portray the author's purpose of entertaining and informing, as well as the specific functions of various computer programs.
  • Students will definitely need to revisit computer skills as each of the programs (i.e., Comic Life and Photoshop) become updated with the release of each new version.
  • The most successful strategies were during the actual demos, wherein the teacher walked through the process step-by-step while students worked on their own computers.
  • For the next time I use this lesson, I would spend more time having students write and edit the text portions of the storyboards, so that when the time comes for them to type in the text in Comic Life there is a lower frustration threshold.

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