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As a child, Bill Zimmerman relished the armload of Sunday newspapers packed with colorful comic sections that his father would bring home. “To me the comics were paradise,” he says. “This is how I learned to read and write.”
That love of the funny papers grew to be a passion for Zimmerman.So much so that he is now helping the young and old connect, one comic at a time.
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Imagine a computer lab full of adult ESOLstudents where not a word is heard, where every head is bent in concentration, where smiles erupt spontaneously, and where fingers are clicking away on the keyboards. This is precisely what occurs when my students work with journalist and author Bill Zimmerman’s Web site, MakeBeliefsComix.com.
The Web site allows students to create their own comics, and it is easy to navigate for language students who want to express their ideas in a novel way. From the moment they open the Web site and discover the tools, the students begin to explore. Minimal instruction is needed because the tools are self-explanatory (with language or visuals), and students feel comfortable experimenting with them. Students readily learn to choose among different characters, select facial expressions to reflect emotions, move the characters in the panels, scale their size, write text in talk and thought balloons, and even add background colors.