For the past week, my theater students have been filming the scenes they've rehearsed in our green screen studio. Students selected backgrounds and collected props for their scenes, and have had some "aha" moments about scale and prop placement when using a static picture as a backdrop. Collaboration is a big part of this class, so I've paired up groups, with one directing/filming while the other performs. The groups and group pairs were randomly selected, so we've got some interesting combinations working together.
Filming each scene takes a while, so students have other assignments to work on when they're not filming. I've allowed them to group themselves for these assignments, which takes more monitoring on my part, but has resulted in an increase in productivity and collaboration.
Last Friday, I was buzzing about the media center, monitoring the students in the studio and the groups working on the other assignments. As I looked in the production studio I noticed on the iPad monitor that the two students performing the scene appeared to be on opposite sides of a counter. Knowing their background to be a photograph, I wondered aloud, "How are they doing that?"
When the students came out of the studio, I asked them to explain how they had managed to get a static picture to be 3D. One of them responded, "It wasn't our idea. She (student in the directing/filming group) told me to wrap one of the green screen cloths around my waist. It made my legs disappear and then they said it made me look like I was behind the counter."
I exclaimed, "What? That's brilliant! What an awesome, creative solution! It came out fabulously!" This apparently came out louder than I thought, as it stopped action in the entire media center.
The reaction from the students in those two groups was priceless. Their smiles were a mile wide and they appeared to stand taller as their classmates ran over to see what I was talking about and pepper them with questions. These students are not the ones typically singled out as exemplars, and I could almost hear them thinking, "Yeah, I'm brilliant." It was awesome.
As teachers, so much of the time we filter ourselves - our words, our facial expressions, and our body language. But it is through our authenticity, not our filters, that we build the relationships that allow us to truly reach our students.
Some days in the classroom are hard. The students are bringing in invisible backpacks that make it difficult for them too concentrate/collaborate/behave, curricular expectations seem impossible to achieve, there are administrative tasks that tax our time, or perhaps we're not feeling well ourselves. No matter where or what age level you teach, we've all had difficult days.
This year, I'm setting the goal for myself to find joy in each day.
As a teacher librarian in a 6-8 middle school, when I'm not dreaming up all sorts of tactics to get books into my students' hands, I am seeking new ways to harness technology to help them learn.
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