Thursday, May 24, 2012

Toontastic: Engaging Writing App with Potential for our Autistic Learners (TLLP Phase 1)

My students and I discovered and explored a great app the other day! At its most basic form, Toontastic is an app that allows users to create a cartoon. This app works on the iPad and it is FREE. Here is a video that I got from the Toontastic site:

Toontastic is more than just an app that creates cartoons, it inspires students to be artists and writers! It teaches key storytelling principles that support the students about the parts of a fictional story - the characters, the setting, the problem, the solution, and their favourite part - all of which, for example, are taught to my students and then practiced when they do a retell for me during guided reading and/or self-selected reading conferences. It also supports the artistic side of students by allowing them to create (e.g. scenes, characters) and change/adjust (e.g. colours) visual features. 

( Taken from )
It is also a powerful app that can assist students in writing. The level of engagement that my students demonstrated (and all we were doing was checking the app out) was amazing! For the students in my class that love writing, they can use this to augment/support their writing of a fictional story. For my students who don't like to write and struggle with it (due to their lack of fine motor development and other issues) they are 'hooked in' by the music, graphics, and content - which has engaged them in a process that they would normally back away from and avoid.

We took our first look at this app on Wednesday. It took some time to work through the app and get to know the basics of it. Today we spent some more time looking it over and then I handed the iPads over to the students to experiment. They will get some more time tomorrow and if we can figure out how to "share" one of our cartoons we will.

Although we have invested a lot of time on this app (relatively speaking) I can see that it has my students attention and can be beneficial to ALL the students in my class.

In phase 1 of out TLLP project, we are acquiring knowledge about the devices and the way the students react to them and the apps I introduce to them. Ultimately, the team needs to decide what apps will be used for our Autistic learners - which will be decided on a 'needs' basis. Nevertheless, I can see this app being used by a higher level functioning Autistic students for several purposes. I can see this app being used to 1) assist them with their social skills (having them work on a Toontastic project with 1 or 2 other students) and 2) to support them with their communication skills (engaging them in a novel way to have them work through the creation of a fictional story).

I would love it if you could help me out in two regards:

1) Please stay tuned to see if I can get a Toontastic creation up on my blog, and
2) Let me know if you have any other ideas how this app can be used with my students, and with Autistic students.

Thanks again for reading - looking forward to your comments/suggestions.

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