Monday, April 4, 2016

Green Screen Biographies in Grade 1

I have been so excited to work with Mrs. Westrope and her first graders to finish up these biography projects using green screen technology!  Mrs. Westrope and her students put a ton of work into these projects, by brainstorming a list of famous people, then finding books in the library to learn more about the people.  The students then narrowed it down to five famous people that they would like to study and learn more about.  As a group, they created word webs for these people.
The first graders then chose one person to research and learn about.  A variety of sources can be used for researching.  Some sources I like are books from the library (duh), Kid Rex, YouTube Kids app, Wonderopolis, WorldBook Online and Scholastic News.  Mr. Anderson just found this cool free app called KidzSearch that I haven't used, but looks cool!  They kept notes in a writing portfolio, going through several drafts and practicing the revising and editing process until they had a final draft.
As the students worked on their writing, they also found and created images to be used in the green screen backgrounds.  They hand drew some illustrations, and created Pic Collages.  They also did an image search for a good image of each famous person.
The students then needed to practice reading their pieces, so they were ready to present on the green screen videos.  They had lots of fluency practice, and Mrs. Westrope had them each create a Chatterpix using one of the illustrations they had created.  
I came to her classroom to help with the final project.  She had created a Google Drive folder for "Green Screen Projects", then each student had their own folder within it that had their three illustrations contained.  She shared this folder with me, so I could easily access the images for our green screen project.  Here's what that looked like:
I used the app DoInk Green Screen, which I have written about before (use the search tool at the top of this blog to read more about it).  A couple of notes about the green screen: make sure you've got pretty good lighting.  I have noticed a difference in the quality of the videos (if they're blurry or fuzzy, it's probably too dark in the room) when the room is more well-lit.  Also, try to find a space where you have ample room.  The edges of these videos sometimes had some desks/cabinets poking through the green screen, because we were working in a small space.  This may be all that is feasible for you, and if so, go for it!  But if you have a larger space you can use, I would encourage you to do it!
As the projects were finished, I could use the Google Drive app on my iPad to place the finished videos back into the Google Drive folders, where Mrs. Westrope could access and share however she would like.  Whew!  This was a lot of work for Mrs. Westrope and her kiddos, but what an awesome Genius Hour project, where each student worked on gathering information and then sharing it out! So proud of them!

UPDATE: If you use Seesaw, you can export directly to Seesaw from the DoInk app!  Click "export options" and Seesaw will appear as a choice.  If your student is signed in to Seesaw, they can upload directly to their learning journal.  Cool!


  1. I love DoInk! Last year we did book reviews! I used green paper for my screen last year...any ideas to improve without spending a ton of money? We are going to do this again in our Makerspaces!

  2. Book reviews! Great idea! The green screen I used was actually purchased at a thrift store for $5! So always look for good thrift store finds. I have also seen people recommend buying green fabric at a fabric store, rather than buying an actual "green screen". There are also some pretty inexpensive ones available on Amazon. I think the other key is good lighting ... having an inexpensive lamp that you could use to add some light might be a good option; I wish I had one for this last project - some of it is a little fuzzy!