Our school just got a green screen and an iPad to do some filming and editing. It's actually really cool. Thanks to our technology partner for writing the grant and for our Foundation for Education for financing this project.
Some may think a green screen and its applications are a waste of time. What real learning takes place with something like this? Well, I'll tell you--lots. I've not used it much since we just received it, but I've had kids use it. A couple took passages from Macbeth, rewrote them in their own words, and then were filmed acting these soliloquies out. Nervous at first, they reveled in the end product. And what real learning took place? Speaking, use of technology, interpreting literature, summarizing, author's choice of word usage...well, you get the idea. This seemingly simple assignment covered many standards and promoted real learning. Ask those students in a month about the dagger or hand washing scene in Macbeth and they'll nail the answer...engagement does that.
I'm slowly thinking of more ways to use this godsend of technology. I'm asking students for their input as well. Why not get them involved? They are the ones who will have to complete the project, why shouldn't they have input on it?
Even though I'm an English teacher, I need to find more ways to assess learning. The green screen is one tool I can use so my kids aren't writing paper after paper and becoming disengaged and totally bored.
If I've learned anything in my years as a teacher, it's that flexibility is key. I can't be married to any of my lessons, and shouldn't be, because there's always room for improvement. What fits one student may not be the best for another. What type of assessment works for one teen may not be the best measure of knowledge for another. That's why flexibility is key.
By having this attitude, I know I become a better teacher. Life isn't a hard and fast rule, and neither is learning, engaged learning that is. The more willing I am to be flexible and to work with kids and give them options and choices, the better the students will do.
And isn't that the object of teaching? Making a difference by helping teens experience success while learning? I didn't have the same mentality when I first started teaching, but I've grown in a few areas since then.
I've learned to embrace technology like green screens. I've learned to welcome the help offered by the tech partner; and I've learned that students are individuals and learn differently. So bring on the green screen and all it entails. I can't wait to see what my kids create next with it. Technology--it really can make all the difference.