GREEN SCREENS: So good for Elementary students!

Today’s Contributor: Silvia Patricia González-Villaseñor, first grade teacher & CIC at Jordan Elementary


Personalized learning is a term that seems to be everywhere lately. The pedagogical approach stems from the idea that if we have strong relationships with our students and we understand their learning needs we will be able to construct learning opportunities that reflect the various learners in the classroom and allow for student self-differentiation.

Altogether I’ve observed that regardless of the personalized learning approach, students are empowered in their learning if they are able to exercise voice and choice and navigate learning at their own pace. With personalized learning, teachers are able to cater to the needs of the class and provide students with agency over their learning, all while creating a unique learning experience from classroom to classroom. Students now are exposed to many opportunities to learn a subject area using technology and to create and learn based on their own interests.

Journey of Discovery

One month ago, my first grade students started using a green screen with the Green Screen Do Ink iPad app. Now my students have a space to share their identities and experiences. Using the green screen has opened many possibilities and options to create. Students can choose their own topic from anything that they are learning in Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, or Math. Since the beginning of the year we’ve been learning about characters, plot, setting, parts of the story, events, beginning, middle, and end, etc. Students started playing and creating their own stories with the green screen and suddenly all that intangible and foreign vocabulary was fully comprehended. If you hear them talking with each other, that vocabulary has become part of their normal conversation. It is very rewarding that students are using all their power skills when developing their digital stories. They had learned to share their learning with the rest of the group and with other students in our campus. Students have had the opportunity to develop all their power skills: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, connection, and cultural proficiency while creating their own digital stories. During all the school year they learned about digital citizenship. Now they are creating their stories to share with others. Students are able to construct and share knowledge beyond our classroom. Students were able to think about products and videos they could create and share with younger classes. I am so surprised at the power that adding this technology tool created in their little minds. They went deeper into their own learning and created material that shows the reflection of their own learning.

Beginning of the Journey

My students started learning to use Seesaw beginning of November, 2018. They have had a few months working with Seesaw in the recording booth. Seesaw, for me, was the easiest way to capture students thinking using the iPad. They depended on the recording booth so much that for next school year I will get a microphone to produce high-quality soundtracks with their videos. Students have learned to use the app to do the recordings and get peer feedback and support. Their own learning has helped to create something new. I have been using Seesaw to create playlists that provide students the opportunity to practice concepts that were taught earlier in the week and use the video function to reflect on their learning every day during the week. This activity helps other students learn from their friends’ explanations and serves as a quick formative assessment. I really love to see the results of using this app. This app has helped to empower my students to take ownership by reflecting on their learning and setting goals for coming weeks.

Steps to Create a Digital Story

Here are the main steps that my students need to plan in advance before producing a green screen video.

1. Think about the scenes or backgrounds that you will use along the story.

2. Look around the classroom. See if you might need something that will be useful as a prop.

3. Make sure that your iPad is charged.

4. Think about the sequence of events in your story.

5. Assign a role or job to each person working in your movie.

6. Record your video while listening carefully to instructions from your movie director.

7. Review your video and make corrections.

8. Record the video again with the suggestions or corrections.

9. Show the video to your audience when it is ready.

This is the anchor chart that we use with the Guidelines to create a story using Green Screen.

Here are the steps to create a digital story. The steps where generated by my students. One anchor chart has full sentences and the other is a pictorial representation of each step.


The chain reaction that a green screen generates in a classroom surpasses the time and effort of teaching your students to use it. Students engage in ongoing metacognitive activities since the first day of exposure to the green screen. I was so surprised of the power that adding this technology tool created in the minds of my students. It expanded their vision and unlocked their imagination and creativity. They went deeper into their own learning and created materials that show reflection on their learning.

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