Thursday, July 11, 2019

How to Create a Green Screen Video in iMovie

Creating green screen videos is be a fun way for students to share what they've learned through research about a place or event. Making green screen videos is also a great way for kids to make their own weather forecast and newscast videos. Through the use of green screen editing students can virtually appear in front of almost any landmark, appear on stage in front of an audience, or any just about any other place that they can find a picture or video of. If you're interested in having your students create green screen videos, here's my short guide to making green screen videos in iMovie.

Materials and Tips for Making Green Screen Videos

  • Your live action needs to be recorded in front of a green screen. You can purchase screens specifically made for this purpose or do what I do and head down to your local Walmart an purchase a queen size green bed sheet. 
    • If you do choose the green bed sheet option, make sure you stretch the sheet tightly enough to remove any wrinkles.
  • When it comes to lighting, the goal is to remove any shadows and cast an even light on person(s) in the video and on the screen itself. Again, you can buy lighting kits made specifically for this purpose or use a couple of cheap clamp-on lights like these that I have in my office.
  • Whenever possible try to have students use images and video clips that are in the public domain as the background for their videos. Pixabay and Pexels offer large collections of public domain videos and pictures. 
If you're interested in making green screen videos on Chromebooks or Windows computers, I recommend trying WeVideo. You can watch my video tutorial on using WeVideo to make green screen videos here

Schedule Assignment/ Assessment Windows in Otus LMS

Otus is a learning management system that continues to grow in popularity in part because of some of the tools they offer for free that other learning management systems don't offer or charge extra to use. One of those features is an assignment/ assessment window.

The assignment/ assessment window feature in Otus lets teachers set a start time and end time for the availability of an assessment. You can set up to ten different availability windows for each assessment. Being able to set multiple availability windows is a great option when you have some students absent or for other reasons need to differentiate the timing of assessments.

Another of the great features that Otus offers is a video feedback capability. As I wrote last year, Video feedback can feel a lot more personal to a student than just reading some comments that you have written in a document. While it might not be as efficient as using canned comments, giving video feedback on big projects can make students feel better about the feedback they're getting.

5 Ways to Enhance Your Classroom Blog

A classroom blog can be used for so many purposes that it is still one of the things that I think every class should have. A blog can be used for communicating important information to parents and students, it can be used by students as a journal to reflect on lessons, it can be used as a digital portfolio, and it can be a way to connect your class with other classes around the world. Now is a great time to tweak your existing blog before the time-crunch of the new school year arrives.

1. Add an Engaging Sidebar Widget or Two
One way to make your blog a destination in your students' and their parents' web browsing habits is to regularly update it with engaging and important information. You can do this in the form of blog posts and in the form engaging third-party widgets. Clustrmaps is a widget that displays how many people have viewed the blog and where in the world they're viewing it. Adding an Instagram or Flickr widget is a good way to keep parents interested in the blog by showing displaying pictures of school activities (of course, make sure that you have permission before showing pictures of students' faces in the blog). Edublogs has a great list of engaging widgets that are appropriate for classroom blogs.

2. Create a FAQ or "Need to Know" Page. 
If you have been teaching for more than a year or two in the same school, you probably have a good sense of the kinds of questions that parents and students frequently ask at the beginning of the school year. Create a FAQ page on your blog to help parents and students get answers to those questions.

3. Create a Featured Blog Post
A featured or "pinned" blog post is one that always appears at the top of the list of posts on your blog's homepage. At the beginning of the school year your featured post might be a welcome message. Later in the school year your featured post might be a reminder or a note of encouragement for students and their parents. Watch my video below to learn how to create featured blog posts.

4. Add a Custom Favicon to Your Blog
A favicon is the little icon that appears in your browser tab next to the title of your blog. The favicon can help people pick your blog out from all of the other tabs that they may have open in their web browsers. You can easily add a custom favicon to your classroom blog. Watch my videos below to learn how to customize the favicon in Blogger, Edublogs, and WordPress.

5. Add a Calendar Page to Your Blog
If you use Google Calendar to display upcoming events and assignment due dates, add that calendar to a page on your classroom blog. Here's how you can do that.

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