Mark Anderson shares how to get your students ready for ‘ACTION!’

Green screening is an incredibly powerful tool to use to support students’ learning. With the opportunity for cross-curricular links, along with activities to promote oracy and literacy, green screening provides a truly engaging and genuine chance to inspire authentic work.

In this ‘Getting started guide’, I will share my insights and tips on how to integrate green screening into the classroom, and how it can support and enhance student learning experiences.

What is green screening?

Green screening, (also known as chroma-keying) allows you to replace the green background (blue also works) recorded with any image or video with any background you choose to add. This means you can easily transport your students to exciting virtual environments anywhere in the world (or even the universe!) to spark their creativity.

At its heart, green screening involves filming a person or persons in front of a green background and then replacing it with a different image or video during the editing process. This technique has been widely used in the film industry for years and in educational settings for some time too.

With a simple green screen setup, you can engage your students in imaginative and immersive experiences, such as those advocated for by the amazing Erika Sandström, someone who regularly shares lots of ideas and approaches to green screening.

The benefits of green screening

Green screening opens a universe of possibilities for teaching and learning. Here are some of the key benefits:

  1. Promoting creativity: green screening encourages students to think creatively and express their ideas in unique ways. They can transport themselves to any setting or period, bringing their stories and presentations to life.
  2. Promoting oracy: by incorporating green screening into classroom activities, students can practice public speaking, storytelling and collaboration. They can work in groups to plan, script and film projects, improving their communication and teamwork skills.
  3. Promoting engagement: with more interactive and exciting learning, students’ attention is captivated. Green screening provides a dynamic platform for presenting information, allowing them to become active participants in their education.
  4. Supporting multiple subjects: whether it’s creating historical re-enactments, delivering weather reports, explaining scientific concepts, or virtual tours of historical locations, green screening can add depth and context to the learning process.

 

Setting up your green screen studio

This is simpler than you might think, and you’ll be likely to have much of what you need in your classroom already.

Here’s my basic kit list:

  1. A green screen: you can get purpose-built kits, but equally you could just use some cheap green fabric (iron out any wrinkles!) to hang on a wall or use Chroma key paint on a blank wall. This vibrant shade of green ensures easy removal during the editing process.
  2. Lighting: proper lighting is crucial for good results. Ensure the green screen is evenly lit to avoid shadows or uneven colour. Use soft, diffused lighting to minimise glare.
  3. Camera or mobile device: you can use a dedicated camera or even a smartphone or tablet to film your green screen projects. The key is to ensure good image quality and stability.
  4. Tripod: using a tripod will help maintain a steady image while filming. This is particularly important for achieving a clean and seamless effect.

Getting started with green screen software

Next, it’s time to explore the software options to bring your projects to life.

A few popular choices:

  1. iMovie: freely available on your iPad, this user-friendly video editing app offers basic green screening capabilities, making it a great starting point for beginners.
  2. Do Ink: a more advanced iPad app option, but not free. Do Ink offers more features and comprehensive editing tools allowing for the use of multiple video tracks. It offers great flexibility and control for those looking to take their projects to the next level.
  3. WeVideo: don’t have iPad? Don’t worry! WeVideo is a browser-based video editing tool that supports green screening with fab functionality and is an excellent choice for educators using laptops and Chromebooks.

 

Integrating green screening into classroom activities

Now you have the tools and software, it’s time to incorporate green screening into your classroom activities.

Some ideas to get you started:

  1. Digital storytelling: have students create their own stories or adapt existing literature by filming themselves in front of the green screen and incorporating appropriate backgrounds and settings.
  2. News reports: develop your students’ research and presentation skills by having them create news reports on current events or historical events. They can stand in front of the green screen, acting as news anchors reporting from various locations.
  3. Science experiments: let students explain scientific concepts or demonstrate experiments. They can transport themselves to different environments to showcase their topic, or even use Lego minifigures as characters when recording a stop-frame animation video.
  4. Historical re-enactments: bring history to life by having students recreate significant events. They can immerse themselves in the period by appearing in front of relevant backgrounds.
  5. Virtual field trips: take your students on virtual field trips without leaving the classroom. Use green screening to transport them to different places around the world

Engage students with green screening tips

To maximise the impact of green screening on your students’ learning experiences, consider the following tips:

  1. Encourage participation: why not have a go at making your own green screen project to inspire your learners? By showing you can do it too, you’ll be sure to discover some of the issues they might encounter, making you better placed to provide support.
  2. Encourage collaboration: green screening projects are excellent opportunities for collaboration and teamwork. Foster a collaborative environment where students can share responsibilities and work together to achieve their goals.
  3. Provide clear guidelines: clearly outline project expectations and guidelines to ensure students understand the purpose and objectives of the activity. Set specific criteria for success, such as content quality, creativity and presentation skills.
  4. Celebrate and share: showcase students’ green screen projects within the school community. Organise a screening event or create a dedicated online platform to share their work with parents, teachers and peers. Celebrate their efforts and provide feedback to encourage further engagement.
  5. Start simple: begin with basic green screen projects to build confidence and familiarity with the process. As students become more comfortable, gradually introduce more complex tasks and techniques.

Green screening can open a world of possibilities in the classroom; it’s probably why so many educators and students love it.

All you need now is… Lights, camera, green screen, ‘ACTION’!

Author

  • Mark Anderson

    Mark is a global speaker, EdTech expert, trainer, blogger, author and key note speaker, known as the ICT Evangelist. He has over 20 years of experience in the classroom. Mark is the head of education at NetSupport, an Independent Thinking associate, an MIE Expert and fellow of the Chartered College of Teaching. His latest book can be found at edtechplaybook.com.
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