Creating a hero’s story – an age-old archetype meets web 2.0.

November 2, 2010

I’m a big fan of web 2.0, so I was excited to hear about what English teachers Holly Tornrose and Jay Riley were doing in their Developing an Historic Imagination classes.

Simply put, digital graphic stories are cool. They are colorful, imaginative, fun – creative. They are also pretty good at exploring an age-old literary device.

As part of their work this first trimester, students in their classes created their own graphic stories to better understand the “hero’s journey,” an archetype or pattern found in stories across cultures and throughout time.

In response to a summer reading text and the concept of heroism, students used an application called Comic Life to develop their own stories, expressing their views on what it means to be a hero while communicating their own values.

“They thought it was cool and were very excited to get into creating the story,” says Mrs. Tornrose, who says the opportunity to use Comic Life came to her this year thanks to Gould’s new one to one laptop initiative.

“Last year this was a homework assignment that required hand-drawn storyboards, and it sort of ended there. It was one of those ideas where you knew it was good but it wasn’t exactly the best way to go about it,” she says. “I believed in it and made it better. Comic Life is a slick application, one of many on the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) laptops.”

At the end of the project, the two teachers created a free account for their classes at, which takes pdfs and turns them into dynamic online magazines. Here the students could publish and share their stories with the world.

“The students thought the way readers can flip through the publication was really cool and life like,” says Mrs. Tornrose. “The share function is easy too. They were able to email a link to their story to their parents in a just a few minutes.”

Check out more examples of their students’ work here.


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