I just tried something new with the kids this week. I almost got it right, it’s almost something worthy of repeating, it’s almost something that is ready to share with you. I believe it was Will Chamberlain who tweeted a few weeks ago about how teachers should post more examples of student work that has not yet been perfected…well this is one of those posts.
Here is the final result of what we did (your mileage will vary based on the demographics in your room):
We are finishing up Industrialization in class, and one of the last things we are examining is the Newsies Strike of 1899. We checked out some secondary sources, read some primary sources, used some of their slang, and looked at many images (mot all from strike). The links are some examples of what we used. On one of the first days we examined some images together doing a simply read of the image and answering the questions: What do you see? (no inferring), What do you not see?, What can you infer? and What do you need to know? We practice answering these not by looking at the image, but by “reading” it. I don’t have a picture of this, but you have got to try it. Project an image and hold up a big piece of white paper/cardboard in front of it. The image on the paper pops out from the rest, and makes it easy for the kids to focus on one piece of it. Slowly move the paper left to right about 3 feet away from the projector and “read” the entire image. I have always done a simple question of “If the person could walk out of the picture and talk to you what would they say?” And “if you could walk into the image and ask the person a question what would you ask?”
A whole lot of teachers do the above with their kids…my kids have done it before. I was looking for a way to make it a bit more engaging for the end of the school year. What if the kids could actually walk into the image?
I decided to attempt some green screening. The students would get one image, analyze it, and then walk into the image and tell the audience about the image. For kids who needed help I gave them some questions to prompt them, and everyone was told they only had 1000 words they could speak. The results…almost what I had in my head, almost worth all the extra effort, almost good enough to do next year again…and my green screen skills are almost there. I have not yet really reflected on this assignment yet. I am open to any and all comments about how to make it better. One thought was to make it more conversational. The kids really did not walk into the photograph, just “in front” of it. Also maybe placing it at the end of the unit? First? I also need to figure out a way in which the kids could see the image when they are presenting. Remember that with a greenscreen, they were just up there guessing!
One student decided to hold the image up backwards so their group could see through it..If you hold the image up so that the kids could see it, they end up pointing to the opposite side of the green scree from where the object in the picture is…just trust me on that one.
There just seems to be something missing that I have not put my finger on yet…it’s almost a great project…but not yet.
A note on green screening…you just need a green sheet (or blue), movie editing software that does green screening (the effect is called chroma keying), and then search youtube with the name of your software and greenscreen! I have Sony Movie Studio Platinum which I bought on sale for $60. You’ll find that once you buy good video editing software, you will start to do more with video because good software makes the video editing experience a joy.