Friday, May 22, 2015

Green Screen in the Classroom

ISTE 2014 -- Green Screens in your Elementary Classroom
--Nicole Zubiate - STEM Outreach Center

What is a green screen?
In film and video, a green background can be placed behind subjects being filmed. This allows a separately-filmed background to be added to the final video. Using a green screen is a fun way to enhance any video project. Filming in front of a green screen allows any project to be virtually transported to a new location or setting.

Why use a green screen?
There are many green-screen film projects that can enhance learning in the classroom. Using a green screen can make projects more fun, interesting, and effective. For example:
  • Flipped classroom - Are you filming a flipped classroom instructional video about math? Chemistry? Literature? Film in front of a green screen, then turn your background into your PowerPoint slides, lab demonstrations, or example problems.
  • Instructional process - Filming in front of a green screen can enhance your step-by-step or if-then demonstrations. Film lab instructions, the writing process, or a technology how-to first, then add yourself in later in front of a green screen to point out details and important information.
  • Reviews - Have students virtually jump into book pages, movie scenes, or works of art as they share your insights and opinions.
  • Globalize your classroom - Report or teach while virtually in front of historical events, next to important people, or visiting far away places.
  • Social studies, music, art, dance, plays, storytelling, digital journals - Teaching about the Pyramids of Giza? Studying Monet's Water Lilies? Performing Martha Graham'sAppalachian Spring? Why not do it all on location -- or at least use a green screen to make it look like you are on location?
  • Media - Professionals have used green screens to create commercials, public service announcements, newscasts, and weather reports for decades. Give your students the real-world experience of creating their own green screen media productions.
  • Claymation/Stop-motion animation - One of the most difficult things about creating an animation of any kind is keeping your background consistent. Using a green screen can help, and it can transport your characters to imaginary lands. (If claymation interests you, check out the book Fantastic Clay Critters for more ideas.)

How can I get a green screen?
You can purchase green screen kits on sties like or Some of them come with just the fabric green screen that you can tack to a wall, and some come with accessories like stands, clamps, and lights. If you do not have the money to spend on an actual kit, there are many ways you can get cheaper versions or even create your own:
  • Buy a canvas, paint it with Gesso (a paint primer), then use cheap green tempura paint to color it.
  • Cover a board (wood or strong cardboard) with green construction paper.
  • Purchase a foldout screen from or instead of a full green screen kit.
  • Paint a room green.
  • Tack up green fabric on your wall.
  • Install green fabric on a shower curtain and install a rod so your green screen curtain can be pulled out when needed.
  • Purchase or create a lighting rig, and hang green cloth on it instead of lights.
  • Create a roller to roll the green screen out when needed and up when not needed. Try using an old projection screen. Be sure to attach, roll, and extend the green fabric so that it is tight.

When creating your own green screen, finding the right color is important. The correct shade of green makes it easier for your computer to remove the green and show your chosen background. When looking for potential green-screen fabric, paper, or paint, think of the color of a Sprite bottle for the right color.

Be sure to set up your green screen away from doors, windows, or adjoining walls. You want to avoid noise, uneven light, and interruptions to your filming as well as things or kids that can cause damage to your screen.

Is there a special way to film with a green screen?
You can film green screen footage with any camera, and no special camera settings are needed. It is actually the editing software you use that will remove the green you film and let your chosen background show through instead. There are some things you can do to ensure that your green-screen footage will turn out well:
  • Lighting - Make sure your lighting is even and coming from one type of source if possible. Avoid shadows and multiple light temperatures. For example, if you are filming in a classroom that has overhead lights and lamps, you may want to turn off the lamps so that there are not multiple temperatures of light that can change the color of your screen. Or, if the overhead lights are causing shadows, you may want to turn them off and use only lighting rigs. This, of course, depends on what lighting equipment you have available.
  • Camera shot - Be sure to zoom so that only the area of the green screen is in your shot. If portions of the wall behind your screen are in your shot, they will also show once once you have edited out your green screen.
  • Tripod - Keep your camera steady by using a tripod. Once you have begun filming, do not move your camera until the shot is over unless you want your background to appear to move. It is usually better to keep the green screen footage still, and add moving background footage later.

How do I edit my green-screen footage?
In most movie-editing software, you simply import your green screen footage and whatever photo or footage you want to use as your new background. Place the green-screen footage into your movie project, then place your new background behind it. (The order you place your footage and new background depends on the software.) Your software will then either ask you what to do with the two clips or will show a button to let you decide what to do. Look for a choice that either says green screen or chroma key. Selecting this option will remove any green in your footage and show the new background you have chosen in place of the green. Read your editing software's help manual for details.

Some apps have been created to help make editing green screen footage easier. Some of these apps require that the green screen footage be recorded within the app, while others can import footage from you device's camera or photo library. Some of these apps even have special effects built right in that are already green screen. Check out the following green screen apps, and give them a try:

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Film Making iPad Apps

As the school year is wrapping up, many parents are trying to think of fun activities to do with their children over the summer. Film making is an excellent activity that promotes creativity.  Here are a few apps that can help make film making more innovative.

Green Screen- $2.99

Green Screen by Do Ink is a very simple way to create green screen effects without much effort.  No longer are you stuck in the location you film. With this app, you can land on Mars, go on a safari, or visit the Eiffel tower.  This app allows you to take live video still images.

Stop Motion Studio- Free *Add-ons available for an additional price.

Stop Motion Studio is a great app for anyone who would like to create a stop motion animation.  Stop motion brings still images to life.  You just set your scene, take a picture, move your scene a little bit, and snap another picture. You continue this process until you have built your entire video.  It usually takes about 18-24 pictures per second to create a fluid motion.  This app allows you to see a ghost image of your last image, so you know where to move the object for the next image.  It is a simple app to use, and anybody can do it.

Collabracam- $4.99

Collabracam is a recording app that allows you to film and edit live footage on up to 6 iOS devices at the same time. It gives you the ability to film the same footage from multiple angles while controlling which device is recording at that precise moment.  This app is compatible with Galileo giving you even more control of what is being filmed.

iMovie- $4.99 

iMovie is an app that allows you to create quality movies or trailers on your device with very little prep.  You can take picture or record video in the app or use footage from your camera roll.  iMovie has built in themes that helps give any project character.

If you want to take your movie making to the next level, try app smashing.  Create footage in more than one app, save it to your camera roll, and then compile it in iMovie.

*Remember, A movie is only as good as its storyline.  Consider making a storyboard before you start.  For ideas on storyboarding and tips creating a film, visit:

Happy Filming!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Phishing Scam Email

During this past school year, our district, along with other school districts in Utah, teacher emails have been hacked by a process called phishing.  What is phishing? Phishing is a fraudulent attempt to steal personal information usually in the form of an email. ( This post is to help teachers understand what a phishing scam email looks like, what they should do if a phishing email is received, and suggest a few tips to protect teachers from Phishing email scams.

What does a Phishing scam email look like? 


What should u do if you run across a Phishing scam email?

Canyons School District and any other school districts will NEVER ask you for your password, Social Security number, or other confidential personal information by email.  If you have received a phishing email, forward it to and to the business impersonated in the email.  You may also want to report the email to  If you have been tricked by a phishing email and reported personal information, file a report with the Federal Trade Commission at  Victims of phishing could become victims of identity theft and it would be a good idea to visit FTC's Identity Theft website.

If you are a teacher in Canyons School District and have received an email that you believe to be a phishing email, forward your message on to 

What can you do to protect yourself from a Phishing scam? 

Do not respond to the Phishing email giving personal information.  If you are in doubt about the email, call the company directly and DO NOT use the phone number listed in the email.  Remember to never give sensitive account information to anyone, including friends and family, via email.  

Do not click on links or download files, unless you are expecting the email.  The links may be hyper-linked to malware software or copycat sites.  If you think it's a legitimate email, go to the company's website or call them directly.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Just Try and You'll Succeed!

SAGE testing in now in full swing.  Some schools started last week, and many more are starting today.  The faculty at Draper Elementary created a fun video to motivate their students to try their best on their tests.  Take a moment to view this awesome video, and remind your students "just try and you'll succeed!"