Friday, January 8, 2016

Green Screening Social Studies.

Its been a long time since I last blogged but my last venture into Greenscreening needs to be shared. It was inspiring, easier to do than I thought it would be and the results were very rewarding. I have wanted to try green screen videos but thought it might be too difficult. I am glad I took the plunge. My students are too.

Our project:
Students used Book Creator and started with
 Collections Canada
Collections Canada website 
Assignment  site

 to research and publish an ebook on their chosen explorer. They worked in pairs using iPads to research and publish and save the book as a video.

After creating the books they used Veescope Live and a green background to film what they learned.  I thought they would record a sentence or two but was surprised how much of their research many were able to present. If I had asked them to present their books or do an oral report I know they would have had difficulty presenting without reading. However, filming added a whole new dimension and they were eager and able to orally present their research. They enjoyed the project, and the results were impressive.

I was able to watch the process unfold and assess their learning along the way. I adapted the assignment for students that needed support by ensuring they had explorers that had enough information for them to readily find what they needed, but so much as they would be be bogged down. They were able to complete the project and ALL of my students are able to film and present with confidence. They were proud of their success and eager to work on the project.

My stronger students became the directors and filmers after they completed their own first and mentored those that needed help. We all watched and as we were filming students edited their books that were playing in the background and offered suggestions. We were not able to redo the filming after editing but I learned we can film over the green background and add the video after. Now that we know how to use a green screen we can make those adjustments. Watching students WANT to go back and edit their work was gratifying. Once again, having a purpose and and audience made all the difference. Knowing the films would be added to their YouTube channel and Blogs transformed their learning and truly made their learning visible.

We are moving on to use Minecraft to create trading forts and will use the green screen to present them as well. There have been times that I worried about how much content was retained by not having each child study each explorer, but the students not only remembered what they learned but by watching and helping each other film they also learned about other explorers along the way. They paid attention to the presentations and enjoyed watching them.

Beyond that, they emerged as better collaborators, they worked out problems with shadowing, timing, and other technical issues and are eager to move on to our next adventure in learning. They have already started at home and are discussing it at recess and lunch. They have taken  charge of their new project and have become artists, publishers, directors, builders and mentors.

It is very exciting time for us.
We are currently working on making student portfolios to share our work and have uploaded it to Youtube and to each student's blog.

Thursday, May 21, 2015


This was a truly a trip of a lifetime. This year I was chosen ISTE 2014 Outstanding Teacher. It is wonderful to be honoured for doing what I love everyday and thrilling to see a giant "me" greeting me  to the sounds of jazz as I entered the keynote.

Over the past years I have been lucky to work in a school district where we are encouraged to take risks, think creatively, and find new ways to engage and guide the learning of our students. My conversations with teachers from other countries opened my eyes to the freedom Surrey teachers have to create our own learning spaces and decide how we  build communities of learners in each of our schools. Teachers  value autonomy as we are creative creatures at heart. We are always looking for new ideas, resources and techniques to make each year better than the last.

Technology and art have been my choices to build new lessons, and find ways to encourage my students to take risks and "own" their learning. Technology  turned my students into publishers, directors, researchers, and connected us to the world. At ISTE2014 I made new connections, found new opportunities and exciting new gadgets to recharge and regroup my thoughts. After sifting through all this new information I am eager to start planning for fall. I am looking forward to joining Project Rhino, getting iPad stands, new software and apps to make movies, and to try a whole new venture of game design in Social Studies.  We will continue using our blogs to publish our work, create online portfolios, share and reach out to others.  They will be the anchor and glue that connects everything we do.

I made exciting new discoveries. The iPad stands, animation Create7 and game design programs that I will try this summer and learned about App Smashing. Who knew we were already well on our way  as App Smashers, usng a variety of apps such as Mobile Monet, King Cam. Animoto, Garage band,  iMovie and Book Creator to name a few.   I found some new great additions such as Thinglink to add to our arsenal.  A great find. Now we will be able to add info windows to make our research presentations interactive. 

Can hardly wait to get started.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Its All About The Tech

Many articles, tweets, and posts about integrating technology ttell us that it is not the technology,  but how we use it to change our teaching that matters. I agree,  how use technology within the classroom is important and that it is a tool not an end in itself. We should  use technology in creative and collaborative ways.

However. I think in my classroom its all about the technology.

 We have 5 ipads, and a cart of Macbooks that we can use daily, and the students can BYOD. If we had more we would use more, but it is certainly not essential to have a 1:1 setup. In fact, even when avaliable we usually work in pairs or teams to ensure collaboration, and to promote peer to peer support. I would much rather have 5 iPads all the time than sign out class sets that we share with the school. We use them exclusively for creating: making videos, slide shows, photography, blogging and skyping. We need them to be available at all times because,  just like our other classroom tools, we use them throughout the day. Having our own class iPads means they are always charged; they are always updated; they only contain our apps and content; and they do not get too full. We have them synced through iCloud and they are very manageable with little effort.

Now, back to the all about the technology...

Technology has transformed our classroom. It enables us to reach out to the world through daily blogging, skyping, Youtube and Twitter, We are able to share our learning with others and to participate in other classes' projects, experiments and blogs. It has enabled us to experience first hand sources for research such as the pictures, maps and diary entries within Passageways  and the information from the Government of Canada to become explorers and to blog about our travels.

It enables us to use rich resources such as Discovery learning, or to watch video  clips from credible sources such as the BBC,  NASA, and National Geographic,  to better understand what we are learning  and to produce our own videos and share them with others on Youtube.

Technology has enabled us to publish our learning in our blogs and given new importance to our writing and artwork while providing parents and others a window to our work. We have been able to reach out to others and to share globally through initiatives such as Global Read Aloud and given us choices in how we present our learning. Publishing and sharing has brought us confidence and inspired us as we learn. It has given us purpose, self direction and choice.

Our Class is all about the technology:

Thursday, May 1, 2014

My Students Speak out

Again this year I asked my students to weigh in on the importance of using technology as a tool in class. They all were asked to blog about it. They also had the opportunity to speak out using the iPads. This is what they had to say:

“Using technology in my class has helped me so much on my writing. In the beginning of the year in September and October I wasn’t really good at writing but now all I feel doing is writing”

“I think the main reason using electronics is better is because it helps you do better because the world is going to see it.”
“And instead of writing a whole paragraph about B.C. our teacher told us to make a little video with pictures of B.C.  Our whole class made  a  video of My Surrey, My BC or My Canada. That project helped us learn a lot about our country Canada”

“When you write something on a piece of paper and than forget about it, instead of writing it on a blog and people could go see your beautiful work.  Now, it wouldn’t be so beautiful if you had spelling mistakes and never knew it, would it?”

“It was very fun taking pics, drawing, filming, talking as a character But without technology none of this stuff would have happen. We’d be stuck in our desks writing a legend when we should be doing one.  The legends took several weeks but it seemed like hours.”

“It would be the same if we had a text book and got the info from there, but avously the computers are best! I would honestly die, if  I moved to a school with no technology. It is a big “NO” to take technology away from me  (or my school).”

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dear Grade 3:

What you need to know before you jump into the adventure ahead. You will be grade 4s soon. Don't worry you will be amazing!!