I’ve used a green screen a little myself in the past, but overall, I don’t have a ton of experience with it, especially with students. The bright green cloth that was sitting around my house needed a new home. I brought it to school, figuring I could use it with the students to create something fun, share their learning, and give students a new way to express themselves. I have all sorts of ideas for ways to use the green screen, but the first step was to get it set up. I had to figure out where to put it – a place where the lighting would be good and there wouldn’t be shadows. I found a wall in my school library and stapled it to the wall. We were all set.
Thanks to Conni Mulligan and others, my knowledge of using a green screen has grown quite a bit over the years. I figured I’d use the Green Screen by Do Ink iOS app because it’s simple and the kids could probably create things by themselves. My kindergarten students were reading The Pigeon books and I thought it would be a great idea to make our own little video using the green screen. I showed the students a video of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and told them we’d be making our own video. They were excited, but weren’t really sure what that meant. I grabbed my iPad and lined the kids up near the green screen. Student after student, they stood in front of the bright green material and repeated lines from the book. Knowing the app is more or less a one take video type app, I knew I’d have to put everything together using iMovie. I took pictures of the pages of the book and began editing everything together. I’m really pleased with the final result, shown below. I did the same thing with another class and am in the process of editing that video. I’ll be sure to share it when it’s ready.
The students have seen the green screen in the library and have been asking about it. Most have an idea what it is, but have never done anything with it themselves. That’s going to change. In fact, the 4th graders are just wrapping up their unit on immigration and one student wanted to use the green screen for part of his project. He wrote a rap song about his topic and recorded it. He wanted to use an image of Ellis Island in the background so we found one we had permission to use, and loaded it into the app. I let the kids take over from there and surprisingly, the students pulled it off in just one take. They thought it was really cool and I can’t wait for kids to think about other ways they can use it.
There are already plans in place with other grades to use the green screen. First graders are current writing book reviews and are going to record themselves telling others about their books. We’ll add the book cover as the background image and record the students in front using the green screen. Third graders are studying countries and there have been discussions on how we can use the green screen to share their learning as well.
My next goal, is to improve our green screen studio and see if we can paint a big section of a wall to serve as our backdrop. This will work out much better than our small cloth backdrop and will allow groups of students to work together and create some amazing stuff. Is the green screen the be all, end all? No, but what’s it’s doing right now is giving students a new way to express themselves, share their learning and expertise in ways they haven’t before, and have fun in the process. And those are all good reasons to jump in!