THE CULT OF PEDAGOGY PODCAST, Episode 157 Transcript

Jennifer Gonzalez, host


GONZALEZ: Shilpa stands in front of a mountain range, arms extended. A few seconds later, she’s transported to a city street. Look again and she’s swimming in the ocean. Finally she’s floating through outer space. 

These rapid trips around the universe are happening thanks to the magic of green screen technology, and to take them, Shilpa never once left her classroom in Nashville.

Green screen technology offers so many engaging opportunities for students to learn.  It’s pretty easy to do, it can be done on a very low budget, it works in lots of subject areas and grade levels, and it’s even possible while teaching remotely. In this episode, I’ll talk with teacher educator Justine Bruyère about the why and the how of green screen videos.


Before I play the interview, I want to thank Teaching Channel for sponsoring this episode. We all know that no teacher got the professional development training they needed to deal with 2020. Teaching Channel wants to help educators get the tools they need to support students this school year with their expert-designed PD courses. All of their 20 plus courses are available to anyone with a Teaching Channel subscription. They all take under 2 hours to complete. Some of their most popular courses right now include Moving Your Instruction Online, Culturally Relevant Teaching, and Fostering Family Partnerships. Teaching Channel subscribers can also watch over 1,400 classroom videos that showcase best pedagogical practices from around the country. You can find videos of every grade level and observe top teachers in hundreds of different classrooms. And Cult of Pedagogy listeners can get 30% off a monthly or yearly subscription. Visit teachingchannel.com/cult to learn more.

Support also comes from Wipebook. That’s w-i-p-e-b-o-o-k. Are flipcharts part of your teacher toolkit? That’s great. But conventional flipcharts have two problems: (1) They’re awfully expensive, and (2) They’re not eco-friendly – one use and that’s it. A cost-effective alternative that my team recently tried is called the Wipebook Flipchart. It’s a marriage between a conventional flipchart and a whiteboard. Each Flipchart comes with 20 reusable surfaces:  10 double-sided sheets – one side is plain and the other is a graph pattern — perfect for math. Each sheet is 2 feet by 3 feet, and the pages are light and flexible, so you can roll them up and bring them with you whenever needed. The flipchart also integrates with the free Wipebook Scan app, which allows you to quickly scan your work, save it digitally to the cloud, then reuse your flipchart as many times as you like. So if you’re tired of wasting paper and money and want to give a Wipebook Flipchart a try, check out wipebook.com/cultofpedagogy for up to 30% off. And if your board or district has used the product already and you want to order in bulk use this link instead for even more discounts: wipebook.com/cultofpedagogybulk of up to 40% off.

Now here’s my interview with Justine Bruyère about green screens.


GONZALEZ: Justine Bruyère, welcome to the podcast. 

BRUYÈRE: Thank you so much for having me, Jenn Gonzalez. Happy to be here. 

GONZALEZ: I’m still kind of giggling because we had a really nice chat before we started recording. So I’m getting all those giggles out now. We are going to talk today about green screen technology. You contacted my staff a couple of months ago actually. I think it was even longer than that just about, that you’re just so excited about what you’re seeing in students that you work with green screen technology. So we’re going to start with two basic intros. One is going to be you tell us a little bit about what you do in education, and then I’ll ask you to explain what green screen technology is. Then we’ll get into all of the theoretical stuff. 

BRUYÈRE: Super. Okay, well I have been an educator for the last 15 years. In being an educator, I’m also a researcher and I also often act as a mentor for students. I was an elementary school teacher for just over 10 years. I started teaching in Canada, in Ontario, Canada. I actually got my start as an educator from a little program at the University of Windsor called Drama in Education and Community, and there I was mentored and tutored through the ideas of drama and education. That really formed the foundation of who I am and my beliefs about education. I understood in that program that drama enables this overlap between what’s real and what’s imagined, and that when we use drama in classrooms, we create this invitation for students to be creative, to live and breathe in the space and to participate in a social play, a play where there are no winners and losers, as Michael Anderson, professor at the University of Sydney says. That was kind of the beginning of my teaching career. Years later, I went to the University of Toronto and I achieved my PhD in curriculum teaching and learning. Now I’m at Vanderbilt University working in the, lecturing in the Leadership, Policy, and Organizations program. Yeah, that brings us to present day. 

GONZALEZ: Okay, okay, which is really cool because you’re like an hour away from me. 

BRUYÈRE: Yes. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah. 

BRUYÈRE: So close. 

GONZALEZ: Anybody who is listening, I’m assuming many people listening already know what green screen technology is. 

BRUYÈRE: Yep. 

GONZALEZ: Just so that everyone’s on the same page, just give us a really brief explanation of what green screen is. 

BRUYÈRE: Right, yeah. So green screens are a production tool that allows us to merge two or more images or video in order to create a layering effect. If you consider a weather person, that might help you to visualize what a green screen is. Green screens are this perfect tool that we might be able to use in the classroom for reflection videos, for book trailers, for interviews or even for imaginary explorations. 

GONZALEZ: And the idea is basically that you film in front of a literal green screen or a green piece of paper or cloth and then everything that’s green can be replaced by whatever you want to put there, an image or a video or whatever. 

BRUYÈRE: That’s right. And you can create the image that you put behind you, so students might be able to draw an image and throw it behind them, or they might capture video and put it behind them. There are many different ways that we can decide on the content that we put behind the student on the green screen. 

GONZALEZ: I did a little bit of research on my own and realized that or I learned that green screens have been around for as long as Hollywood has been around, like as long as they’ve been making movies, they’ve been using green screen, which I thought was really interesting. 

BRUYÈRE: It is, and it’s kind of fun too to see older versions of green screen use. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah. 

BRUYÈRE: Because I think we’re actually able to, in the early 2000s even, the technology that producers were using in Hollywood is really similar to what we have in our classrooms and at our fingertips today. It’s quite exciting, actually, just the possibilities that we have with green screens. 

GONZALEZ: One of the things that you came to me and you sort of alluded to this a little bit already with the idea of drama and learning. But you’ve sort of got some theories on why green screen projects have got so many educational possibilities for the classroom. What we’re going to do is sort of go through some of the key benefits in terms of why would a teacher want to assign a green screen project to their students. 

BRUYÈRE: Okay, yeah. Absolutely. When thinking about green screens in the classroom, I’m working with the assumption that students are creating and that teachers are creating learning experiences that are socially constructed that are inquiry based and that involve embodiment. I use that word embodiment in place of drama, just so that people accept it a little more. 

GONZALEZ: Okay. 

BRUYÈRE: But essentially students are able to share the learning and the knowledge that’s created in this community. By that I mean that students are talking about the tool that they’re using, how they’re using it, what they did. They’re conversing about how they might best reach their audience. They’re considering the choice that they have and where they might stand or how they might speak and that execution. They’re doing all of that socially. Next, I mean thinking about inquiry, is considering this idea that students need to have buy-in in the projects that they participate in in classrooms. I think that we’re moving away from now, or at least I hope we are, moving away from those rationalist epistemologies, these cognitive theories where teachers give the problem to the students and students fill out the single right answer. And we’re kind of moving more into sociocultural perspectives where students have buy-in, where they want to do the work, where they’re excited about the work, where they’re choosing avenues and pathways that are really truly interesting to them. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah. 

BRUYÈRE: And there’s something really special when you watch children who want to do work. You don’t ever have to say to them, “The paper has to be three pages long,” or “You need to talk for at least two minutes,” or “I want to hear your voice like you mean it.” You never need to say that when children are interested in the work that they’re doing. All of those things happen naturally. 

GONZALEZ: It sounds like for these first two characteristics, a lot of that depends on the design of the project in terms of how it is assigned, in terms of it being an inquiry project. Because I could easily see a teacher assigning a green screen project where it’s almost the exact same output for every single student. 

BRUYÈRE: Exactly.

GONZALEZ: Because I’ve seen a lot of other —

BRUYÈRE: Yes. 

GONZALEZ: So it would need to be, for it to really be inquiry-based, there would need to be a lot of open-endedness — 

BRUYÈRE: Yes, yes. 

GONZALEZ: — to it? Okay. 

BRUYÈRE: And you’re just reminding me of, I guess, in the past when we used to be able to just walk through the hallways of schools and see the work on the bristle boards of teachers where we would see 25 identical Thanksgiving turkeys around this time of year. 

GONZALEZ: Yes. 

BRUYÈRE: And they’re all perfectly cut out with the child’s hand traced. I’ve walked into classrooms where teachers have done that, and I’ve said, “Okay, so where’s the differentiation? How are we providing opportunities for inquiry here?” And teachers have said to me, “Well, the students get to choose the color feather that they want to.”

GONZALEZ: Yeah. 

BRUYÈRE: “And it’s each child’s individual hand.” I would say that those are probably the lowest form of inquiry and differentiation, and that we really ought to be searching for more deeper avenues, deeper and wider ways for students to have a voice and choice in the assignments that they spend most of their days, weeks and 180 days of the year doing. 

GONZALEZ: We’re going to be getting into that actually a little bit later, some of the ideas for the types of assignments, and a lot of those are really very open-ended in terms of the directions that students could take them. 

BRUYÈRE: Mhmm. 

GONZALEZ: I guess I wanted to also comment on the idea that being socially constructed, that that also depends on the culture of a teacher’s classroom, whether or not they’re set up to where students are encouraged to collaborate with each other, to look at each other’s iterations of the project and talk about their ideas or whether it’s just completely isolated. 

BRUYÈRE: Right. And Peter Freebody, a researcher again from Australia, says that we need trust and safety in classrooms first before we can expect any of this work to unfold. It’s important that as the year goes on that teachers are building that idea that there is no single right answer. I think that that helps students to take chances and take risks and at this crossroad where there are risks and where there are opportunities, there are these moments for gold. I often see that happening when I’m using drama and when I’m asking students to embody, and when students know that they’re in a safe place and that they can take a chance. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah. And then that is the third characteristic. So we’ve got green screen projects can be a good opportunity for social construction of knowledge. They’re a great way to do inquiry learning or a good end product of inquiry learning even. And then there is this idea of embodiment, which was a new term for me too. You’re saying that this sort of, well, go ahead and explain again what exactly is embodiment in education or in learning. 

BRUYÈRE: Right. So embodiment is an opportunity for students to jump into the text, for students to be in that fictional world, for students to not only answer the five W’s, the who, what, when, where, why, how, but to become a character, and to use their body to think and feel like characters. It’s a time for us to tap into a child’s imagination instead of taking a text as being a finished piece. We don’t look at a book and say, “Okay. So we know the characters. We know the beginning, middle and end. All right. We’re done. We’ll shut it.” We look at the book and we say, “Okay, what ways, what openings are there for students to enter this text that is supposedly fixed or finished, become the characters, re-envision the story, and create something new.” So drama gives us this opportunity to jump into that text. It allows us to raise concerns about the text, things we didn’t like. There’s a book that I share with students through my research. It’s called “Boy,” and the story is about a child who’s deaf who goes into a community where there is a war that’s happening. And he helps both sides to hear each other, and they make peace. The peace comes very quickly in the story, and actually when I first read it, I thought, this is a great book, but the peace comes too quick. It’s too easy. It’s snap your fingers and everything’s better, and that’s not the real world. Then I thought, no. This is the absolute perfect book to use for drama, because we will give children an opportunity to jump into this moment in time in this story and say to them, “Would this happen in the real world? If not, what would happen? Let’s use our bodies. What character do you want to be in this text? Okay. Who else do we need to be in this text? All right. Let’s get some actors up here. Okay, good. Let’s do a lights, camera, action and tell me what do you think really would have happened? What if that story had happened right here in our classroom? Lights, camera, action, go. Tell me what would have happened.” And so in doing that, we give children an opportunity to be in a role and to maybe even become angry about something that wouldn’t make them angry in the real world. Freebody and Finneran talk about this in their book, and this embodiment element allows children to experience the emotions of characters that they may not in the real world ever interact with. 

GONZALEZ: So this particular aspect of working with green screens, you’re couching it in terms of working only with fictional text. Does this idea transfer to content area, nonfiction, informational kinds of reading and texts? 

BRUYÈRE: Oh yeah, it definitely does. I’ve just been referring to some nonfiction, goodness. I’ve just been referring to some fiction texts, but certainly we can use nonfiction. We can think about Greta’s work, and students that I’ve worked with, we’ve used Greta’s work as a platform for what it looks like to be a child activist, and what sort of backdrop would we want behind us if we were being an activist. So students have done, have created green screen videos where they talk about reducing, reusing and recycling. Another student did a video where he talked about not leaving your dogs in a car when it’s very hot outside. Other students have done green screen videos where they talk about what it looks like to be a friend to somebody when you know that they don’t have many friends. So students can look at the real world and that real world overlaps with the world of our classroom. We bring it into the classroom through the use of the green screen. 

GONZALEZ: Got it, got it. And then another thing that was mentioned in some of our conversations is just that green screen projects are really a good opportunity for just cross-curricular work. 

BRUYÈRE: Yeah. And I mean you’ve talked about this a lot in many of your other podcasts, just about the, how the cross-curricular nature of learning really helps students to tap into all of these modalities. When we do that, we create more space and time in the school day as well. For those who feel cramped on time, when we use reading, writing, drama, math and use this green screen to connect them all, then we’re saving time. Now that school year that feels impossible, where everything’s crammed in and everything needs its own 45-minute block, it becomes a little more freeing for teachers, not that the green screen is the answer to everything but certainly the cross curricular nature and the ability to use the green screen to bring in different subject areas is helpful for educators. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah, yeah. And I would think, even if a student is working on something that is science-related or social studies-related, they’re still having to write a script, and they’re still having to think about audience, and a lot of the things that we talk about in a language arts classroom. 

BRUYÈRE: Yeah, yeah. And Jenn, and to that point, when they’re thinking about audience, we as educators also need to create pathways so that students know that what they’re about to create, what they’re about to write, what they’re authoring, it’s not just going to be seen by us, that we will share this work with a wider audience of people, that we want kids to know that their words mean something, not just to a single person as an audience, but to another third-grade class or on a safe platform that we can share so parents can see it, or to the school audience on a school Twitter feed. These are ways that we can help students to see that their words, their voice, their authoring, it has value in the world. 

GONZALEZ: So we’re going to walk through how it’s done. For any teacher listening who is now saying, okay, I’m in, but now I need to know how you actually do it, what does it look like? So you had actually given me sort of a three-part process to set up the mess and the growth. 

BRUYÈRE: Yeah. 

GONZALEZ: So if you’re teaching, how would you actually go about doing this? 

BRUYÈRE: Right. I mean I will just say as a little preamble, this work, if you’re going into it thinking that you’re going to make these beautiful green screen videos, and you’re very excited about the product, you may be a little disappointed to start. And I mean I have some videos of my very first green screen experiences, and they’re nothing to brag about. But I was learning with the students, and there was so much value in that. And so this setup is this first step in the how-to. For this setup, I always model how I use the green screen with students. Typically what we’ll do is set up the green screen, and we’ll begin creating a low stakes video. We’ll decide on a topic. We’ll decide on a theme. We’ll create a loose script, and I’ll ask for volunteers, and we’ll begin creating a green screen video together. 

GONZALEZ: Can you give me an example of what would a low-stakes video, what would a topic or a subject be for that? 

BRUYÈRE: Right. So if I shared, for example, the story of Red. It’s called “Red: A Crayon’s Story” by Michael Hall. Students and I read this text, and then I say to them, “Hmm. I wonder what the grandma was thinking, and the grandpa, in this picture. Notice what they say here. They say that they don’t really think that Red is doing a good job. I wonder why they’re saying that. What’s behind that? What are they thinking?” And the students and I then take on roles, and we recreate the scene, add detail, as Red the crayon, as the grandparents in the story, and we begin re-enacting this scene together. 

GONZALEZ: Okay. 

BRUYÈRE: Now, once we’ve done that on the green screen, I’ll show the video to the students and say, “Are we done? Do you think we’re all done here?” Just like writing, students will usually say yes. You know that first draft? When we’re working with kids, they always want the first draft to be the last draft. 

GONZALEZ: Yes. Yep. 

BRUYÈRE: It’s so common. So I say to them, “I wonder if we could make it better?” So here we are on the screen here. We’re being these characters. We’re in the book. But I wonder what we could do to make it better. What are some things? Oh, let’s look up some examples. Looks like we could use a green blanket to mask our bodies, and then it would look like just our heads were on the crayons. Would you like to try that? Would you like to make that a little bit better? So the first video is just us really standing on a still background of the exact picture. The second video is of us with the green sheets pulled up to our necks playing these characters, and our heads are on the heads of the crayons. And we keep adding details like that every day, just like in a writer’s workshop model where the teacher keeps modeling the writing. I consider the green screen a form of authoring, a form of writing. 

GONZALEZ: Yes. 

BRUYÈRE: So we keep going back to it, and we make it better every day. Then I say, “Gosh. Well, would a little bit of music be good for this? What do you think? Do we need a little intro? What would it look like if we added some text to this? How could we do that?” And every day we make that video better and better. 

GONZALEZ: Wow. 

BRUYÈRE: And this is an effort to help the kids to see also in their traditional writing classes or their authoring classes that revision is a really good thing. It’s a way that we make something better, and it doesn’t mean the first thing we did is bad. It just means that if we keep going back, we can always make it better. 

GONZALEZ: Right, right. I love this. This is so applicable in so many different areas. I want to stop for a second and let’s talk real technical. When you’re filming, we’re going to talk about in-person class, and we’re also going to talk about how to do this remotely. 

BRUYÈRE: Right, right. 

GONZALEZ: When you’re filming this for the first time with these students in a classroom, what is your green screen? You need to have something green behind you and the students. 

BRUYÈRE: That’s right. So we need some sort of green backdrop, and early on when I was using green screens, all I did was take 25 or 30 pieces of green paper, taped them together, put them on the wall, and it really worked. 

GONZALEZ: Perfect. I’m glad you mentioned the cheapest option available, yes. 

BRUYÈRE: Yeah.

GONZALEZ: So you can just try that, yeah. 

BRUYÈRE: Yeah. And if you’re worried about it and you’re thinking, I don’t know if I’m even going to like this, that’s exactly how I felt, and I did that, and it started me on this course of really wanting to do it in a broader sense, kind of more permanently so that it wasn’t 30 pieces of paper that could fall off the wall. 

GONZALEZ: Right. 

BRUYÈRE: The next thing I did was get two dollar store green tablecloths. Those worked just fine as well. And then I wanted more than one setup in the classroom for green screens, so that when students were rotating through centers that they had multiple opportunities to visit the green screens. You know that butcher paper that’s green at schools that you get to put on your bristle boards? 

GONZALEZ: Yeah. 

BRUYÈRE: Well, I just took big pieces of that and put it on the wall, and that worked too. Finally, now that I’m going into schools more for research, I’m using a cloth green screen that I hang over two doors, and I bring some clips, and I usually just kind of figure out how I can get the green screen to stay up. But there are many different entry points here. The point is that all of these options that I’ve just shared, they all work. 

GONZALEZ: Good, good. When I was putting together the blog post for this, I did a little research on Amazon. It is surprising. Even if somebody is going to fully commit —

BRUYÈRE: Fifteen dollars

GONZALEZ: — to a stand. Even I saw a kit with lights and everything, and it was still under like $100 for everything. You could do a DonorsChoose project and get that funded quickly. 

BRUYÈRE: Wow. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah. 

BRUYÈRE: Did not know that. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah, there’s $15 things and yeah. I don’t know how good it is, but it really is, you know, this is not a high, high tech [crosstalk] thing. 

BRUYÈRE: Amazon, wow. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah. And then in terms, so you need something green behind you and your students. 

BRUYÈRE: Right. 

GONZALEZ: And then you need some sort of an app, correct? That you can record the video on whatever, but then you would import the video into an app that would allow you to replace the background, correct? 

BRUYÈRE: You’re exactly right, yep. 

GONZALEZ: Okay. 

BRUYÈRE: I end up using one of two apps. Chromavid or Green Screen by Do Ink are the two apps that I use. 

GONZALEZ: Okay. 

BRUYÈRE: And I’ve tried dozens of them, and these two are the two that I think are the most user friendly and that have the best features and that kids can learn quickly too. Because the idea would be initially in that setup phase, I’m operating the camera or I’m propping the camera up and videoing. Eventually, after a couple examples, I no longer hold the camera. Just like in the writing classroom, the teacher should never pick up the child’s pencil, I am not holding the camera, because that would be me directing and me deciding. And I really want those deciding and directing roles to be with and for the children. 

GONZALEZ: Great. So they can use smartphones, tablets, anything that’ll record video, which is super accessible now. 

BRUYÈRE: Yep. 

GONZALEZ: Compared to, maybe, 20 years ago. 

BRUYÈRE: Right. And even if you only had three or four of those that you could put those devices at the green screen center, if you were to do a Daily 5 model. And they could be at a center and that could be the exercise that happens at that center with those devices. 

GONZALEZ: Got it, got it. So if we have students at home that are doing virtual school remote learning, whatever we are calling it. 

BRUYÈRE: Yep. 

GONZALEZ: How would they go about doing this? 

BRUYÈRE: Okay. So there are several options. A low to no cost option is that children who are at home are mailed a green piece of paper, maybe several green pieces of paper, and they create characters that they draw, and they use a little green stick to hold over the green paper. And kind of they can create book trailers for characters that they’ve written about in a series book collab, or they could create alternate versions of stories by drawing the characters and showing what they wish had happened in the story, or showing an alternate ending. And they can do that with these characters that they have that they create on movable green sticks. 

GONZALEZ: Got it. So it’s just a miniature version, basically, of like a live action green screen studio? 

BRUYÈRE: That’s right. And if the children at home do not have technology where they can purchase or download the app, if a child records that video, just the video, and sends it to the teacher, the teacher can move that video into the app and put whatever background on it that the child decides. 

GONZALEZ: Right. 

BRUYÈRE: So the child could be in control of all of the speaking, moving and ideas surrounding what goes on the green screen, but the teacher will just place in that background on the app. 

GONZALEZ: Do the execution. Good, great. It’s exciting when I saw that little mini studio. We’ve got a picture of this that we’re going to put on the blog post too. I had never thought about doing it just on the smaller scale, and that opens up all kinds of possibilities again now if you just need an 8.5 by 11 sheet of paper and a little stick. 

BRUYÈRE: Right, yes. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah. 

BRUYÈRE: And it’s adorable because what the children come up with, it’s nothing that they download from the internet. These are little characters that they’ve created. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah. 

BRUYÈRE: And so it is pretty, the cute factor is off the charts for the things that kids create. 

GONZALEZ: So you described this period as the mess. This is where students are working on their own projects now, and that the expectation is that these are going to be rough, like you had described earlier. 

BRUYÈRE: Yes. 

GONZALEZ: And it sounds to me, when I was an English teacher, a writing teacher, I would allow lots of time for this middle stage as opposed to it being just a one-off, there would be multiple drafts, basically, of things. 

BRUYÈRE: Yes, yes. 

GONZALEZ: So that’s what you mean by the mess. 

BRUYÈRE: You’ve got it. And that messy time is hard. I remember some of the first times that I was doing this, and I even remember one of my administrators came in the room, maybe on the third time that I had tried this where I had totally let go. And she stayed in my room for such an extended period of time, and I was sweating from my armpits to my hips, because she was watching and I was like, oh my gosh. And there’s so much pressure for teachers to have perfect products, you know? And I remember just that whole time she was in my room kind of thinking, be cool, Justine. You know that kids need time. You know that it’s not going to be perfect, just reminding myself that this mess is so important, and that there is nothing that can replace the learning that happens during this time. 

GONZALEZ: Right. 

BRUYÈRE: And the kids, when I looked at them, they were no more stressed. They were into what they were doing. They were encountering little problems, and there was that productive struggle that was happening. They’re striving. They’re learning. They’re talking to one another, overcoming. And that is just such a beautiful thing because when a teacher dives in, when we solve the problem, when we make the clicks, when we solve it, we are taking away all the learning from the students. We’re robbing them of that valuable learning that they can transfer to other domains in the future. So I had to remind myself when my administrator came in the room that day to just trust this process, trust that mess. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah. 

BRUYÈRE: And that it was going to be okay. 

GONZALEZ: I’m trying to picture how this type of collaboration would happen if we’re working, if our kids are all scattered around. I’m imagining maybe, could you possibly put kids into teams? Not necessarily that are working on the same thing, but they’re collaboration teams where maybe if four kids can get on a Zoom together, talk about where they are, maybe screen share some of the video that they’ve already taken and get some feedback on it? 

BRUYÈRE: Super idea, fantastic. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah? Okay. 

BRUYÈRE: Just love it. And I’ve also, another idea I was just speaking with one of the teachers who I formerly taught, and an idea that also might work is this idea of creating a folder on a Google Drive where images from a story that you’ve shared or a story that children want to use are taken from a digital copy or taken pictures of into screenshots in a folder. I don’t know if that made sense. 

GONZALEZ: Okay. Yeah. Well, what’s the purpose of the folder? So that kids can just pull from that? 

BRUYÈRE: So if you’re on a Zoom call —

GONZALEZ: Yeah. 

BRUYÈRE: — you say to the students, “Okay. In your small groups, select a backdrop, and when you, and work on this in your breakout room, and everybody use the same backdrop that you want to use. When you come back to Zoom, your group will present, and we’ll give you a lights, camera, action. We will record it and upload it to our shared files.” So Zoom has this feature, as you probably know, that you can change your virtual background. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah. 

BRUYÈRE: And so it’s kind of maybe a light way of using a green screen if you’re in an online setting. You might be able to do that as kind of a precursor activity hoping that one day when you’re in person you can use the green screen share. 

GONZALEZ: That’s really interesting. 

BRUYÈRE: But until then, students who would be in a group, they use that same background, you do a lights, camera, action, they present their alternate ending to a story or what have you. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah. And you’ve given them the images in this folder that they can choose from? 

BRUYÈRE: Right, yeah. 

GONZALEZ: Got it. That’s cool. 

BRUYÈRE: And while it’s not perfect, it’s another option. 

GONZALEZ: It is. Well, and that’s the thing. I mean I don’t know how useful it is to spend a ton of energy wringing our hands on how sucky everything is right now. We just need to come up with some ideas for working around it right now. 

BRUYÈRE: Amen, amen. 

GONZALEZ: Okay. And so the third stage of this, this isn’t necessarily a chronological thing. 

BRUYÈRE: Right. 

GONZALEZ: But you’ve got the growth, which is sort of where students can then eventually start to stretch themselves into future projects or maybe even in their first one. They can try more advanced skills. So you gave me a list that I thought was really cool. 

BRUYÈRE: Thanks. Well, yeah, I mean I think that there will be students who reach this growth stage quicker than others, and the point is to be ready, just like you would know in a writing class. Your writers will come to you ready to learn different things at different times. So I kind of take this mini conferring group time to talk about what students might be able to do to enrich their videos. So some ideas include using moving backgrounds, enlarging people. You can make someone bigger or smaller. In one of the videos that I think you’re going to share on the website, there is a student who makes her body really small, so that it appears as if she’s at the top of a mountain. These are things that kids can learn to do in that growth stage. They can enlarge objects. They can duplicate objects. They can make students fly or float by using a green sheet on a bench or on some sort of platform and then holding their arms out. It’s really fun. Once they realize they can do this, every child wants to do a superhero book, which I’m for. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah. 

BRUYÈRE: I’m just for anything where, are you motivated? Great. Check. Let’s go. If we can connect this to the literacy standards and you’re motivated, and we’re using technology, and we’re using drama, I mean I’m going home happy. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah, yeah. 

BRUYÈRE: And there are some other ideas too. They can add additional image boxes. Students can blend two applications together. Once you make the green screen video, you can download it or upload it into [Seesaw an application? 0:36:31] or put that video into a book on, for example, Book Creator. And you can even blend two different applications, like an application called Say Anything where you can program the characters’ mouth to speak. If you merge these two apps together, you can create kind of like a mega video. One eat students realize that there are all of these other options, again, that revision process becomes something that’s joyful rather than it being this laborious task that they really don’t want to engage in. 

GONZALEZ: Right, right. It’d be something they would probably just do in their free time. 

BRUYÈRE: Right. They want to do it at home. In fact, many parents, when I was still acting as a classroom teacher, would say to me, “Can you tell me the name of the app that you used? Because my kids want to make a video at home over spring break.” 

GONZALEZ: That’s awesome. 

BRUYÈRE: So this is a testimony to how enjoyable this work is that they would actually want to take it outside of the classroom, and then even more so, do it on spring break. 

GONZALEZ: Absolutely, yeah. Okay, so to wrap this up, we are going to just quickly kind of go through some ideas, basically, for green screen projects to get people listening kind of excited about all the possibilities. We’ve got this full chart that we’re going to put on the blog post, so we’re going to basically only go through maybe 40 percent of what’s in there, so people who really are liking these ideas should go and look at the full chart. 

BRUYÈRE: Super. 

GONZALEZ: All right. The way that you have this set up is students take on different roles. 

BRUYÈRE: That’s right. 

GONZALEZ: Yes. So the first role is that they would take on the role of a reporter or an interviewer. We’re going to talk about a social studies example and a literacy example. 

BRUYÈRE: So right. In social studies, if you wanted students to take on a reporter role, students might interview a member of the community who had firsthand knowledge about a given topic. They do so on the green screen, either having the person as a guest or using their video, again, layering that video on the green screen, chopping it up and asking the member of the community the question and syncing these two videos. 

GONZALEZ: Cool. Very cool. 

BRUYÈRE: It is neat. It’s so neat, because now you don’t have to, especially in this time, where we are so detached from other human beings in a physical sense, we don’t have to be detached in a virtual sense. We can bring two people together on the same screen. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah. Oh, I think that, that opens up so many possibilities, yeah. Okay. And then how could this role of a reporter/interviewer work in a literacy environment? 

BRUYÈRE: So students might act as a reporter on location in a text just a moment after something tense that’s happened. They could say, “Here on scene reporting, just now, as we saw.” Once I see an example of this, there’s quite a bit of excitement around the tense moments of a story, and students begin thinking like a reporter. Well, how would I say this? 

GONZALEZ: Right. 

BRUYÈRE: What audience would I be speaking to? How do reporters speak? What kind of language do they use? So we begin asking broader questions that are, again, more associated with writing standards. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah. So the next role is that of an explorer, so we’re going to talk about a science and math example for these. 

BRUYÈRE: So in science, students might find an example of a scientific theory in real life and go on location to observe that phenomenon. For example, students might find an example of erosion and video the erosion on location and talk about the ways that they might help to solve the erosion that they’re seeing by showing an individual text or image boxes some potential solutions to the erosion that they’re seeing. 

GONZALEZ: Nice. So this would be almost like they’re making like a little mini documentary or something? 

BRUYÈRE: Yes. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah. 

BRUYÈRE: Exactly, yes. 

GONZALEZ: Cool. 

BRUYÈRE: And students’ voices even change slightly when they have this role of a reporter or interviewer or explorer. You hear a confidence come out in some of their voices that you hadn’t formerly heard. I think that’s part of this magic of embodiment too, taking on that role. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah. 

BRUYÈRE: And when they’re seen as the expert it’s just, it adds that bit of, I guess, confidence. 

GONZALEZ: That’s nice. 

BRUYÈRE: It is so, it’s really great. So, and yeah, in math, students might visit a site where math learning can be used in reality. So they might, if you were studying area, they might visit a site, a construction site and talk about how area would be important to the construction workers or to the architects who are creating the blueprints. And they could use the ideas that they have about how to solve problems as reasons for why it would be helpful in this field. 

GONZALEZ: Nice. And these visits, by the way, just to remind people, these visits are in quotes. They are just pulling images and video and putting them into their green screen. They’re not ever going anywhere. 

BRUYÈRE: Right. These are imaginary visits. They’re not actually there, but to students, they are very real. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah. 

BRUYÈRE: Especially in the watching after. So as another little sub-note here, I made all these videos that students created available on our class Seesaw app, and students would spend free time, rainy day indoor recesses watching each other’s green screen videos. And they’re learning from each other simultaneously while they’re also admiring the work of their friends. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah, yeah. That’s nice. 

BRUYÈRE: It is. 

GONZALEZ: That’s a neat little side effect. 

BRUYÈRE: It is, yeah. 

GONZALEZ: Another role you have is of an investigator. We’ve got a social studies and math example that we’re going to talk about for this one. 

BRUYÈRE: Yeah, so as an investigator, students love these sort of investigative roles. I used to have an inspector who would come to the class and leave clues. His name was Inspector Inference. And students loved these roles where they got to be the person who uncovered clues or who figured something out. So making a what-if green screen video, what would happen if we changed the course of history, what if we had never invented the —

GONZALEZ: Combustion engine?

BRUYÈRE: Thank you. I was like, wait. This is not exactly my area. What if Henry Ford had never created the car? What if instead there had been, the Tesla was the first car, that we had never had this car based on fuel? What if we all had started recycling and reducing from the beginning? What if we all cut carbon emissions? What would the world look like then? And students like to imagine what that would look like, something like the Jetsons. Maybe we wouldn’t even use Tesla cars. We wouldn’t need them. Maybe we would be flying everywhere with jetpacks. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah. 

BRUYÈRE: And so there’s this moment for imagination and also creation. 

GONZALEZ: Nice. 

BRUYÈRE: And in math, students investigate multiple methods for solving problems, and they share their method by throwing the image of their method behind them and imagining that they’re teaching next year’s first graders or next year’s second graders. 

GONZALEZ: Oh, yeah, yeah. 

BRUYÈRE: And then I keep these videos with student permission, and share them with the students the next year. Well you know, do you know Rolin from third grade? Well you should see the way that she solved this last year. Would everyone like to see her method? 

GONZALEZ: Oh, how cool. 

BRUYÈRE: And now students, when they create their method that year, they know that the audience is going to be large, because next year I’ll probably share their video. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah, of course. Yeah. Knowing there’s that audience is really, it’s so much more motivating. 

BRUYÈRE: Right, yeah. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah. So another, another role is the role of the actor. And I wanted you to go through all of the different subject areas for this one just because each of the ideas were kind of really cool. 

BRUYÈRE: This one was really easy for me to create, because of course this comes back to my roots at the drama and education program. But when students are acting as an actor in social studies, they can imagine that they’re a character during an important historical event. They can tell what they would have done differently or how they might have handled something differently. In science, they can act as a character in a show called “Myth Versus Reality,” and they can dispel myths based on new science understandings. In math, they might imagine that they’re a character from a math textbook problem, and they might use that green screen to communicate with the fictional characters from the textbook. I.e., Bobby and Jane had $25 and now you put those two characters on the green screen behind the kids, and they talk to them. So the way that I did this was I took a picture of our math textbook. I just removed the background behind the characters and put that into a set of different screenshots that students could choose from. And then they decided what character, what problem they wanted to respond to, and spoke to that character on the screen. So fun. It’s also fun for the teacher to think of the entry points for students in all of these different subject areas. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah. 

BRUYÈRE: I think it creates kind of this mutual enjoyment for both the teacher and the student. And then finally in literacy, students acting as actors might imagine themselves as a character in a picture book or a chapter book, and they might use images from that book projected onto the green screen to dramatize a chapter or a book, either as it is or as it should be or as it might be. So students have used the book “The Gruffalo,” and they’ve imagined different endings. What if the owl wasn’t afraid of the Gruffalo? What would have happened then? And they create different endings there, or they just act out the story the way that it is. Sometimes that’s a perfect place to start for green screens. We begin somewhere, and we keep enriching it. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah. This has, this has been really eye-opening for me, because I’ve been aware of green screen tools for a while now. I write an annual tech guide. 

BRUYÈRE: Yes. I love your tech guide. 

GONZALEZ: Thank you. And I just sort of, I guess I was a little bit dismissive of green screens. I just sort of had an idea of like, oh, that’s cute. 

BRUYÈRE: Right. 

GONZALEZ: But I really never thought deeply about, it’s really a whole other medium for creation and for authorship, like you were saying before, and now I’m just super excited about the possibilities. 

BRUYÈRE: Yes. I’m so glad that you are. I hope that your listeners are too. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah, yeah. 

BRUYÈRE: I mean I think that sometimes these tools that are apps, sometimes they’re reduced to extras. Well, when we have time we’ll do that. Right before Christmas when things are crazy, right before spring break. At the end of the year we can use that app for the fun learning. 

GONZALEZ: Right. 

BRUYÈRE: And what’s missed there is this opportunity for us to allow students to deeply embed themselves in learning, and where we look at a tech tool as fluffy rather than as something that could really help students to make deep and wide connections to what’s taking place in the class. 

GONZALEZ: Yeah. Well, I’m definitely sold now. 

BRUYÈRE: I’m so glad. 

GONZALEZ: If anybody listening wants to find you online, where would they go? 

BRUYÈRE: They can find me on Twitter. My handle is @JustineMBruyere, and that’s just like gruyère the cheese. 

GONZALEZ: Yes. 

BRUYÈRE: Jenn knows my joke. I’m cheesy. 

GONZALEZ: You’re cheesy. Thank you so much for all this. I’m really glad that you kind of put this in front of me and got my attention on it, because I think this is really kind of perfect for where we are right now. Where so many of us can’t go anywhere, and this allows us all to travel places and still be really creative in safe ways, anyway. 

BRUYÈRE: You hit the nail on the head. Exactly. I couldn’t have said it better myself. 

GONZALEZ: Thank you so much. 

BRUYÈRE: Thank you so much, Jenn.


For links to all the resources mentioned in this episode, and to watch the green screen videos made by Justine’s students, visit cultofpedagogy.com, click Podcast, and choose episode 157. And check out my new mini-course, Four Laws of Learning, at cultofpedagogy.com/laws. Use the code LISTENER at checkout to get $5 off the course tuition. Thanks so much for listening, and have a great day.