A Green Screen of our own

Last month were able to borrow a green screen. 

I had a specific task I wanted to complete as part of a STEM project. 
Despite time constraints we planned and completed the project, but it left me wanting to do more.

After the green screen went back the children kept coming up with ideas and suggestions of things they could have done if we had one in school.

I used this genuine desire as a stimulus for a persuasive writing activity – you can read some of their persuasive arguments here

In the meantime I sourced a green screen for the non exorbitant  sum of £73.25.

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Today was the first time we used it. 

As luck would have it the hall was available and I was in the fortunate position of being able to take the children into the hall in two small groups of 13.

Today’s agreed objective was just to explore the FX Movie app.

I think that sometimes just letting the children play with and explore an app is the best way in.

Because we were using borrowed equipment and working to a deadline during our previous Greenscreen work not all of the pupils had first hand experience.

The rules were simple

  • no weapons in your green screen
  • work as a team
  • share your knowledge
  • have fun

Team one had the challenge of setting up the screen. Team two, disassembly. 

So, how did it go?

So far, so good.

Setting up is easy. Our setup isn’t as heavy duty as the one we borrowed but that’s actually a positive thing. It’s much easier to carry in its bag and easier for the children to set up.

It was a lovely sunny day and the light was good so we didn’t bother with the lighting rig.

We started with a quick recap of how to use the app. Any pupils who had first hand experience shared their top tips. 

The most popular one was ‘always select the chroma key‘ which may or may not have been a direct reference to me forgetting to do so last time.

Then they were off. 

Working in groups of three they filmed short clips and then played with them to add effects and backgrounds.

We visited sun kissed beaches, watched fireworks explode over the Niagara Falls, got chased by marauding T-Rexes, fell into holes after explosions and generally had a lot of fun.

Collaborative learning at its best – lots of discussion, teaching one another (and me) and sharing of ideas and knowledge.

At the end of each session I asked them to think of one thing they would say to someone about to use a green screen. I’ve copied and pasted the list from our class blog as I think it’s actually a pretty comprehensive list of what they learnt during the morning.

  • don’t forget to select the chroma key.
  • make sure you’re filming at the correct height.
  • don’t over edit.
  • make sure the iPad is secure on the stand
  • put the main movie underneath the background
  • don’t move the green screen
  • take your time
  • learn to use the app by experimenting
  • open the microphone before you start filming or you won’t have clear sound
  • try and keep the video on the screen
  • if the greenscreen is creased it’s harder to get rid of the background.
  • you need to work as a team
  • at the end you need to be able to fold a sheet
  • you need patience to do it sometimes it will go wrong. Don’t wear anything green
  • when you put your clips in order move the background to the top.
  • hold the iPad carefully
  • before you start remember to prepare so you know what you’re doing
  • have fun
  • hold the camera in the right position
  • choose the right colour in the chroma key
  • don’t expect it to be perfect first time.

At the end of the morning Team Two had the task of taking the screen down.

Disassembly easy – it even fits beautifully into its knacky compartmentalised bag.

Folding the green screen – interesting.

What next?

I think I’m going to link it to our current e-text and see if we can interact with the characters and write some dialogue or maybe television reports.

Effective use of iPads

As we roll out our new set of class iPads I’ve been thinking a lot about how best to use them effectively.
My biggest worry is that they’ll be used inefficiently.
As a reward “now go and play on the ipad” or an incentive “if you work hard you can go on the ipad” or even worse as a time filler.

In order to prevent this I’ve asked staff to look carefully at how they plan to use them.

We’ve just started using pupil friendly ICT targets so theoretically it should be possible to look at planning and ICT skills and marry them together with a task that can be best facilitated on the iPads.

First class up for the challenge are going to look at control (Daisy the Dinosaur) and creating multimedia projects (e book creator).

Choosing an app to use can be quite a daunting task. There are almost too many and I’m coming to believe that less is more.

Luckily Configurator my nemesis means that theoretically I can set them up quickly so they are ready to use with all the appropriate apps installed.

Ten things I’ve learnt about …

… using iPads in class

1. Train your Digital Leaders to set them.
When we got the first set of teacher iPads it took me hours and hours to set them up. Now I have a dream team who can do it faster than I can.

2. Don’t get app-happy. Sometimes less is more, it’s easy to be dazzled by the hundreds of options. It’s better to use a few apps really well than a lot of apps badly.

3. Don’t stop looking for new apps – just be discriminatory in the ones you choose to use.

4. Keep them charged so they are always ready to be used.

5. Make the pupils accountable for their care – that way at the end of every lesson they are put back and on charge and you don’t need to worry about them

6. Invest in a charging cabinet – we have a Griffin that is worth its weight in gold – later on when I get to grips with Configurator I’m hoping it will make life even easier.

7. Be prepared for the children to know more than you do. I consider myself pretty proficient but rarely a day goes by when someone doesn’t teach me something iPad related.

8. Use some kind of Cloud storage. This means you don’t need to worry about making sure pupils use the same iPad each time. It also means you can take on home and review all their work

9. Encourage the children to come up with ways the iPads can be incorporated into lessons. Don’t always suggest an app, make the iPad available, explain the task and let them choose.

10. If you are lucky enough to have a way of projecting your iPad onto the IWB enjoy the freedom of being able to face the children and interact with your board.

I’m sure I’ll be back with another list next term as this is an ongoing learning journey.

The Wonder of Wunderlist

wunderlistI like lists.
I really like Wunderlist.

In the old days I used to write them in the many many notebooks that I used to buy.

That must be a family thing because when I visited my sister recently she had a huge pile of pristine beautiful stationery stacked neatly in her spare room.

I’ve tried lots of different list apps. In the pre-app era I used to use tada lists a lot.

I liked Astrid and dabbled with various other apps before finding and sticking with Wunderlist.

Everything about it is neat and well ordered. You can make lists within lists, share lists, set reminders and even add lists to an inbox to prioritise them.

You can use it on your phone, macbook and iPad and it synchronises seamlessly.

For a while I’ve been thinking about how to use Wunderlist in the classroom and after a few trials and errors I’ve come up with a way that worked well for me.

I have my account set up on my iPad/iPhone/Mac and then have a different account set up on the pupil iPads.

I then create a list on my Wunderlist account.

Useful lists have been success criteria for a lesson, steps needed to complete a task and a set of challenges that need completing.

I then share this list with the pupil account – as soon as it is accepted it appears on all the pupil iPads.

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You can use this in a number of ways

  • One list for everyone – in this instance ask the pupils not to tick the boxes but use the list as a reference point
  • Individual names lists for groups or pupils – they can then tick off the list items as they achieve them.
  • Or you could do it the other way around where pupils compile as list as they work through a task and then at they end they share it with you.

Of course, if you don’t want to use Wunderlist yourself you only need one account to do this but I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to use it for yourself.