Green Screen Tips from Teachers on Twitter

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Over the years, I have had the pleasure of helping many different teachers use green screen effects in their classrooms. This summer I get the opportunity to do it again at ISTE 2018 in Chicago with my colleague Gina Rogers (@grogers1010). Although my presentations and workshops have evolved over the years, they typically include three elements:

  • Why green screen is so popular in schools
  • How to create successful green screen projects
  • What other teachers are doing with green screens in their classrooms

Often, I find that I get a lot of inspiration from teachers on Twitter. So, in this post I wanted to share some of my favorite examples from tweets I have seen that illustrate great educational uses of green screens. As you scroll through, click on any of the images below to see the original tweet and play any associated media.

10 Reasons to Use Green Screen (@unameabh)

I think this is a great place to start, and definitely something we shouldn’t overlook. Jason Ohler has this great phrase in one of his books that I always remember to tell teachers  when I talk about green screen. He says,

Stories without digital work. Digital without stories doesn’t.

This reminds me that there has to be a reason for doing green screen. You need to think about your why, and not just the cool effects you can create. So, here are 10 reasons to use green screen in your classroom, courtesy of Uná Méabh O’Hanlon.

Note: TSPC stands for Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities and is part of the Northern Ireland curriculum standards.

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10 Ways to Get Started for Under $5 (@MrsGeekChic)

Some people think that green screen is an expensive thing to do. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be, and to prove it, here are ten ways to get started for less than $5 thanks to the fine work of Larissa Aradj and Todd Burleson. How many of these have you tried?!

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Green Screen for Artists Study (@JanelleVanDop)

This is one that you have to see to believe so make sure you click through on the image below to watch the video. In this example, you will see students painting on a blank canvas. As they paint, Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh will slowly appear as if by magic. The magic, of course, is green screen! The students are painting with green paint, and the image of Starry Night was resized to fit the canvas. As the green paint is applied, the image layer of Starry night is revealed! Be sure you turn up the volume on the video to hear the students narrate what they have learned about the artist Vincent Van Gogh.

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Green Screen in Physical Education (@MrAdamPE)

This one reminds me of that AR t-shirt that was doing the rounds for a while. (Click here to watch a video if you don’t remember it.) You can recreate a very similar effect of your own with a green t-shirt or a green sheet with some nips and tucks in the right places. Then, all you need are some green screen images, or videos, to overlay on top of the green and you quickly have a neat way to examine the inner workings of the human body.

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10 Green Screen Ideas That Are Not News or Weather Reports (@creativeedtech)

Ryan O’Donnell is a TOSA from Rocklin, California, and also a fellow podcaster! He put together this crowdsourced list of ideas that aims to encourage people to think outside of the box when planning green screen projects with students. Ryan compiled the ideas in an infographic he created in Google Drawings. It links to ten ideas that may just make you think twice about what you do the next time you roll out that green screen. He also  inspired me to share some of my favorite ideas in the blog post you are reading now!

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New & Interesting Perspectives (@jonathanwylie)

Here is an idea that I contributed to Ryan’s collection above. Green screens are traditionally placed vertically against a wall, but what if you put your green screen on the floor, or on a ceiling? In the example below, I placed a green screen on the floor and faked a high wire walk across a busy city street. In reality, all I was doing was walking along on a thin piece of wood that was laid on the floor, but with the right picture, you can quickly get a very different perspective. Students could be looking down a well, examining dinosaur fossils in the ground, or looking up at planets in the sky, and all you have to do is get creative with the placement of your green screen. Click the image below to watch the video of my high wire walk.

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Green Screen + Stop Motion = Awesome! (@fuglefun)

If you’re not following Tricia Fuglestad, then you should! She is amazingly creative with how she uses green screen and always shares great ideas. The example below is one that I have showed to countless teachers over the years. It is a perfect mashup of green screen and stop motion. It shows how you can combine a student’s physical artwork with a digital video to illustrate the concept of movement. It’s fun, inventive and easy to recreate. Make sure you read the blog post to view the final videos.

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Green Props for Green Screen Magic (@sedge_mrs)

Props can really add some authenticity to media projects, but green screen props can take things to the next level. In the tweet below, a student is lying on a green stool in a superman pose while another student is pulling green strings that are attached to her cape to make it look like it is blowing in the wind. Because of their color, both the stool and the string will be invisible in the final video. I’ve seen similar effects created with puppets mounted on green garden canes. Ready for Halloween? Headless ghosts carrying a head can be created with the aid of additional green sheets!

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Pinch to Resize and Move (@bhopteacher)

In the Green Screen app by DoInk, there is a feature that, in my opinion, is underused or simply one that people don’t always discover. It’s the ability to move and resize your subject in real time! This completely eliminates the back and forth you get by telling students to move a little to the left, or a little to the right when they can’t see the background behind them. This can be done with photo and video projects.

The person operating the iPad can move and resize people by tapping on the camera track, and then pinching your subject in the preview window with two fingers to resize. You can also drag them around with one finger to reposition them. Bobbi Hopkins did this with great effect to create these fun butterfly book covers.

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Green Screen Art Frames

Here’s another one of my own tweets that was inspired by a brainstorming conversation I had with a colleague of mine, Amber Bridge (@abridgesmith). You use a picture frame, but instead of filling it with a picture, you fill it with some green paper. This lets students talk about any piece of artwork you can fit in there. It creates a mixed reality scenario where some of the video is real and some is imagined. You could even create those moving paintings from Harry Potter by covering the head of a portrait with a green circle and superimposing the head of a student on top of the body of a famous portrait!

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Even more ideas

If you are looking for more ideas, be sure to follow DoInk on Twitter at @DoInkTweets. They constantly share great ideas and examples of how teachers are using green screen in their classrooms. DoInk also have a great collection of Pinterest boards. See those here. The #greenscreenedu hashtag on Twitter is another good resource.

So, what are your favorite uses for green screens?

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