Comicon? Comicon!

By Mia Nixon

Honestly? I became a teacher because I thought I had no other choice… We didn’t have heaps of money when I was growing up.  I needed to study something where I could work at the same time to earn the money to pay for tuition, and where I could potentially get into the job market FAST! I also got offered a half-bursary from the (then) Transvaal Education Department so I grabbed the opportunity thinking that I’d teach for 4 years to pay them back and then move on to study Law.  Well, so much for that plan!  I realised pretty soon after I started teaching that circumstances actually led me straight to my calling. I love my job, and I adore my students.  23 years later, I can say with certainty that I am where I was meant to be.  If I could choose my life path again?  You would find me right here!

See how Mia Nixon from Holy Rosary School uses interactive comic books to teach Grade 8 and 9 History and English.

The vision

The vision

With these lessons, I wanted to bring some joy to my students.  This, for me, was paramount.  It was even more important to me than the many pedagogical benefits of this approach.  The reason for this was COVID-19.  My students were scared and uncertain and we missed the interaction that we had with each other in class.  I wanted to make them smile.  I wanted them to look forward to opening their devices for their lessons, instead of being fearful of it.  At the same time, I knew that with the interactivity of the comic books, they would not only be learning content, but they would be learning vital tech skills...without even realising it.  On a more philosophical level, I believe these comic books exposed them to the concepts of resilience, flexibility, and innovation. I hope that they learned that no matter the difficult situations in which they may find themselves, anything is possible.

Curriculum standards

The vision
Curriculum standards

This learning facilitated the development of the following skills identified in IEB:

  • an interest in and enjoyment of the study of the past; 
  • knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the past and the forces that shape it;
  • the ability to undertake a process of historical enquiry based on skills; and 
  • an understanding of historical concepts, including historical sources and evidence.

Learning journey

The vision

Each of these comic books was designed for one lesson.

If students were to create their own comic books, this process activity could be designed for at least one week of daily lessons.

What happened at each stage?

  • Introduction and provocation:   The comic book is used as an introduction or provocation for a section of work.
  • Hyperlinks embedded:  Hyperlinks are embedded in images and audio in order to encourage interactivity and to allow the students a sense of freedom and control over their learning experience.
  • Student feedback: Students are encouraged to present feedback and questions to their teacher by accessing a Flipgrid.
  • Students collaborate and design their own comic book: When considering the SAMR Model of technology integration, the activity as it was presented to the students during lockdown online learning functioned at a more ‘Augmentation’ level, allowing students to interact, using technology, with a worksheet.  However, by encouraging students to collaborate with their peers and create their own comic books, this task is modified so that students are able to learn and showcase their own skills.
  • Presentation to an authentic audience: to completely transform this learning activity, students could share their work with an authentic audience that exists outside of their regular learning experience, such as students and teachers from other schools and other countries.

Teacher Feature

The vision

Student activities

The vision

Weimar Republic Comic

This comic book worked very well as an online worksheet to flip my classroom and introduce the creation of the Weimar Republic to my students before I had even given them a lesson about it.  It was interactive and the students enjoyed the fact that it was hyperlinked to an EdPuzzle. (Click on my Bitmoji in the bottom left corner of Page 4 to check it out! 

The Guillotine

This very short comic strip was just as effective as creating an entire book for my students.  This time, I collaborated with one of my colleagues so that I could add her Bitmoji to the strip.  The students enjoyed seeing their Accounting teacher taking part in their History lesson.

How to recognise bias - French revolution


I used this comic book to present an online source activity to the students instead of using an ordinary worksheet.

Execution of the King


This comic book was used to clarify and revise concepts that I had previously taught online.  It was also an interactive experience.  The students loved that my BitMoji “talked” like I do and had my sense of humour.  So I was able to maintain the personal connection I had with my students even though we were miles apart.

The Execution of a King

Student reflections

The vision

I would like to acknowledge and thank Grade 10 History student, Taylin Brighton, from Holy Rosary School for making this video for me. She organised all the content and voice notes, and she created and edited the video herself.


“I have been amazed by Mia Nixon’s acumen at online teaching, especially her integrated cartoon strip notes.  They are informative, fun and dynamic.  Many students found that aspect of their online experience the most accessible and enjoyable.” 

- Karen Taylor - Colleague


“Going to History class was easily the best part of my lockdown school day”

- Grade 9 History student.


“Mrs Nixon turned learning from home into a whole new world.  She was the first teacher to ever brave something so creative.”

- Taylin Brighton Grade 10 History student, Holy Rosary School.


“Mrs Nixon’s cartoon booklets were so cool.  Not only did they make the learning experience really fun but also extremely effective and I loved the fact that she used BitMoji making the material even more relatable to us”

- Grade 9 History student

Teacher reflections

The vision

I LOVED creating these comic book lessons.  It took a while for me to figure out how to work Google Slides and PowerPoint because I’d never really used them for anything other than ordinary presentations so the first comic book took a long time. But once I got the hang of it, I could whip up a comic book very quickly. 

For me, while I am thrilled that the students have enjoyed the experience, I am also super-proud of myself. I have learnt so many news things, both in terms of pedagogy and Edtech.  This ‘old dog’ has learnt some amazing ‘new tricks’ and I feel exhilarated, motivated and inspired to learn more.

Technology used

The vision

Google Slides/ Microsoft PowerPoint

Bitmoji, audio recorders, EdPuzzle, Flipgrid, YouTube


Comic book templates

Technology used

What's next?

The vision

I cannot wait to get started on my new comic book project.  Since I am primarily an English teacher, I will be using comic books to introduce the concept of ‘translingualism’ to my students.  It is imperative that we, as teachers, give our students the opportunity to recognise themselves and express their own identities in the curriculum and, essentially, create a sense of ‘belonging’ in our classes. I would like my students to create comic books to showcase how their own home languages correspond to and integrate with the English language.

Closing thoughts

The vision

It always seems impossible, until it's done!

- Nelson Mandela


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