Thursday, May 7, 2015

Green Screen Experimentation

 As a teacher I am always asking students to try new things.  I feel strongly that learning takes place when we take risks and move away from our understanding comfort zone.  I don't think every learning experience happens that way...but I do want students to experience that feeling of trying something new and learning from the experience frequently enough that they have confidence in themselves to--figure things out, embrace exploration, understand that answers are not always automatic and that failure is a part of the learning process.

While I believe all of those things, I sometimes hesitate to embrace that philosophy in my own teaching.   I want to prove something works or see evidence of a theory or practice before I take a risk.  I justify my hesitancy to myself by saying that it is not just a risk for me, but it is also a risk for my students.  What if a teaching method I use does not work the way I intended?  What if I try a brand new technology tool with students and it does not work?  I don't want to waste their is so precious.  But then I go back and think about what lessons students can learn if they see me taking risks in my own learning.  I have decided that I would much rather be a teacher that is viewed as learning and taking risks than one that has all the answers.

While I want to innovate I also want to leave as much time for student learning in my classroom as possible.  This idea has led to me trying out a lot of new technology tools on my own kids at home before bringing them to school.  I have also found that if I introduce technology tools to students without a specific learning target, it can help me to figure out how the tool might be best used in my classroom.  Together my students and I take minor risks that lead to great potential for learning!

Over the last few weeks I have been trying the Green Screen iPad application by DoInk.  First my daughters tried it over Spring Break.  It was a rainy cold week in Vermont so they had fun dreaming of where we may have taken a vacation!  Below you can see the clip they made to send to their Grammy sharing their imaginary adventure!

Next, I invited students in various grades to try it out in my classes. Their experimentation was open ended and led to students in first grade who are learning about plants, sharing their plant knowledge as they stood in front of a giant garden of sunflowers.  Kindergarteners incorporated the green screen into a dress up center and had a great castle photo booth and had fun pretending to be surrounded by giant monsters. In fourth grade students immediately saw the potential to use green screen instead of creating a theater set for a skit they were working on and that it might help them teach about movie special effects for a capstone project.

These trial runs were a lot of fun, and my confidence in this teaching tool has grown as we have explored together as learners.  I currently have plans to support a third grade student project where he shares his knowledge of Davy Crockett, standing in front of an appropriate back drop AND I will now look for opportunities to incorporate this into my curriculum.

I am so grateful to learn with and from my students each day, they drive me to innovate and learn.

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