After months of Mother Nature’s winter tantrums, I am ready for spring. The kids are ready to get outside and run off pent-up energy. We all struggle with the notorious third-quarter-slide, and yet we have a multitude of standards to teach in the final months of school. One of the ways to keep it interesting and inviting to students is through the use of green screen.
When most people hear of green screen, they automatically visualize the weeknight weatherman and his ninja-like map skills. However, with the emergence of technology in the classroom, there are ways to put this magic into the hands of students. My app of choice is Green Screen by Do Ink. For a mere $2.99 in the App Store, your students can give their reports on location, provide special effects for a video project, or pretty much anything their imaginations can dream up. Such a simple concept can take the mundane to exhilarating. See here for some tips on working with the app in the classroom.
This week, I worked with a third grade classroom who had been writing reports about famous landmarks around the globe. Suddenly, a task that could be written and quickly forgotten was now going to become a short movie that was going to be shared with the outside world. The energy was palpable as the classroom teacher and I worked with students to find fantastic images that would work well for the project. The goal was to locate a picture or two that would allow them to virtually stand beside their landmarks as they gave their speeches. Not only were students meeting various writing, speaking, and listening standards, but they were also tackling a host of the 6 ISTE Student Standards. These standards are a staple of 21st Century learning as we prepare students to be critical thinkers and problem solvers in jobs that likely don’t yet exist.
Working the app is fairly simple. Upon opening it, you will find a student-made tutorial. In the upper right-hand corner, is a plus sign which will allow you to begin a new project. Once opened, the magic happens via the three bars along the bottom. It is suggested to use the middle bar as the location for adding the green screen video. Your green screen can be as elaborate or as simplified as you wish. In our case, we used sheets of green rolled paper taped to the front whiteboard in the classroom. I’ve also seen this done on a small scale using tiny puppets and nothing more than green folders. I would also suggest a green bed sheet or even a green plastic table cloth as viable options. You can choose to record the green screen video straight from the app or import from the camera roll. Considering the experience and age-level of the kids, we opted for the latter. The “chroma” color wheel feature within the app allows you to tinker with the coloring as needed to make the images appear just as you’d want them. To show you exactly what I’m talking about, check out this short video from my friend, Jonathan Wylie.
The bottom bar in the app is used for the video or image you’d like to have as the background. Again considering the age of our kids, we chose to use images so that the kids could find suitable backgrounds with ease. Keeping in mind that our informational writing standard was at the heart of this project, we also didn’t want to take any chances that their sweet voices wouldn’t be heard clearly. You’ll note that there was a top bar we didn’t use. If you so choose, this can be for adding animations. Do Ink has a sister app called Animation and Drawing by Do Ink for $4.99 that would work perfectly for an added element and some extra challenge.
It goes without saying that the “coolness factor” of the project really helped get kids into creating a unique video worth sharing. To save the video, our students exported it to the camera roll of the iPad (an option that will pop up upon hitting “Save”). This allowed students to be able to independently upload their videos to their Seesaw Portfolio for all classroom parents to see. Seesaw works a bit like a private social media experience complete with “likes” and commenting. Before we knew it, kids were getting responses from their uploaded “on-site” reports. I’ll definitely be covering Seesaw in more detail in the coming weeks.
So, as we head into the fourth quarter, I encourage you to ramp up your teaching with a tool like Green Screen. Keep learning fun! I promise you won’t regret it.