Green Screen in the Classroom

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Green screen is a fantastic tool for use in the classroom. With just an iPad and a green sheet, a pupil can be landed in a different environment, country or time, broadening not only their understanding of a topic but stretching their creativity of learning without even having to leave the classroom.

The process of green screen is simple and in many ways very cheap and easy to achieve effectively. This theoretically, makes it a very good and transferable skill for teachers to use with children, as a quick tutorial of the simple processes can lead swiftly toward a self motivated progression of related skills.

As part of a Digital Leaders project with the University of Northampton, I introduced a class of pupils to green screen film making at Vernon Terrace Primary. Starting with a quick introduction to green screen and the iPad application the children would be using, I then challenged the children to go and film a short news report using the green screen for one part of their film.

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The results were pretty entertaining, with stories ranging from surviving alligator attacks to alien abductions. As part of the task, the children were able to experiment with filming, before using iMovie to put it all together. This enabled all the children to use a range of technologies, which aided in developing their creative media understanding for their future productions. After seeing each other’s news reports, with time given to critically evaluate each other’s work, the children were then given the opportunity to make another film of their own, using their newly acquired and developing media skill set.

During the production of the next round of films, the pupils further developed their confidence with green screen and were actively looking for opportunities to expand and experiment with what was possible within the process. This helped the children create far more individual films which were not only personal to them but were far more technically advanced than what they had originally been able to achieve.

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Green screen is undoubtably a fantastic tool which pupils love. Being such a well known film making technique, that is both equally recognised and misunderstood in how it works, makes it a very appealing technique that everyone feels inspired to learn.

If you’ve had experience with green screen in the classroom, I’d love to hear about it. Let me know by either leaving a comment or contacting me on Twitter.

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Using Animation To Expand Children’s Creative Skills.

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For years I have been teaching stop motion animation to both primary and secondary aged pupils and in that time I have seen numerous benefits in it expanding the inspirational and creative levels of children, as they explore and create characters, scenarios and worlds of their own design. With just a pack of plasticine and an iPad, a child can create anything. So when my placement school decided to run a pirate themed day, based upon pirate literature, I knew stop motion animation would be the perfect tool for inspiring and creating pirate worlds.

With five activities planned across the day, the children would only have 50 minutes per rotation, which for stop motion is difficult but not impossible.

Using the University of Northampton’s iPads and the app iStopmotion, the children would be given a pre-made set and a selection of coloured plastercine, with which they could then use to create a short stop motion animation. What animation the children produced was completely up to them as long as it was about pirates! And of course appropriate for their mums’ to watch.

The structure of the lesson was simple, as the children entered the room (usually with an echo of ‘Wow new iPads….look playdoh!’, they would then sit in pairs at an iPad. At this point I was able to introduce the concept of what the children would be doing, asking for famous examples of stop motion animations along the way (Shaun the Sheep, Wallace and Gromit, Coraline etc..), followed by a quick tutorial on how to use the iPads to create amazing cool animations.

By the point I reached the tutorial the children were so engaged with the concept of the lesson, and the fact they would be making their own short films, they were willing to take on all the advice I had about animation. This allowed me to cover many potential hiccups they would undoubtedly come across within the first 30 seconds of starting their animation productions, such as:

1.Moving the iPad instead of the character.
2.Moving the character too much in one movement.
3.Building a character that can’t stand up.
4.Accidentally taking a photo of someones hand.
5.Accidentally turning off the application altogether.

Obviously, many of the children still had these minor hiccups but because I was able to model how to safely escape the problem within the introduction, none of the children panicked and quickly asked me for help when they made mistakes. Which, they were  then able to learn from quickly, becoming more independent and self sufficient animators and filmmakers as a result.

I made a short chronicle of the day, which can be seen below:


A Lego Adventure…..With Dinosaurs

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Taking advantage of exploring Abington Park as we were given the challenge of creating a photo journey using a collection of materials including string, scissors, tape, clothes pegs, plastic dinosaurs and of course Lego.

So inspired by the Little People street art, we created some macro photo art of the little Lego Man venturing into the bush.

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The process is simple:

1.Find character and think up an adventure.
2.Put Lego man in an adventurous position.
3.Turn on macro setting on camera.
4.Position camera at an appropriate height to the Lego man.
5.Take photo.
6.Continue adventure

From a teaching perspective the Little People inspired artwork is a fantastic concept for children to have a go at. Being completely open ended, what scenario the children create is completely up to them, as they learn to work with nature and their surroundings.

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