Hats off to Green Screen Magic

Today I was wondering about the magic of the green screen. I was asked to submit a photo of myself, without a hat on, to the office at the new school I will be working at next month. Well, if you know me very well, you will know that there are a couple very good reasons why I wear the hat. First, as my children like to say, “what hair dad?” Secondly, I supervised the kids waiting for their buses after school for a few years when I taught middle school in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. One gorgeous fall day we had a bomb threat and the entire school evacuated to the football field. The sky was bright blue not a cloud in the sky and it was great being outside (I wish the circumstances would have been better). But, by being outside that day for just shy of three hours, I got the worst sun burn ever right on the top of my noggin. That’s right a shiny red head! And later that night I was in agony. I vowed to never, ever venture into the out of doors without a hat on my head. So, whenever I give presentations on gamification (indoors), whenever I leave a building, and whenever I have my photo taken I grab for the nearest hat.

What a lead in to today’s topic that has me wondering.

I wonder. . . . . 

how is it that with some green fabric behind me, a photograph, and another image I can appear to be anywhere? I have been experimenting with, and getting better at, using iMovie and my green screen. For the photo I submitted to my school today, I simply dragged the image from my desktop into the iMovie maker and suddenly I had four seconds of video. I then had my two oldest daughters take some standard head shots of me in front of my green screen. I selected one of their photos as a jpeg image and dragged that onto the top of the previous image, clicked a button marked adjust, clicked a drop down marked green screen, and walla I had a four second video of this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRhyDiKHBH8&list=UUcO54pfwAAqOaFLNJU8SL6Q

Next, I uploaded the video to YouTube then I paused the video and using Skitch I was able to take a screen shot that I saved as a jpeg file. The following image is the final result.

A photo of Tim Scholze without a hat in front of a bookshelf

Fall 2014 No Hat Photo

The only way I can explain how you take this

Photo in front of green screen

Original Photo by Kat

 

 

    and this   PlaybraryLarge       

                                                                                     to come up with this,

A photo of Tim Scholze without a hat in front of a bookshelf

Fall 2014 No Hat Photo

 

                                                                                                                is M-A-G-I-C!

 

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I Wonder…..

As I was thinking about topics for this blog post, I realized that I forgot my copy of Vicki Davis’s book Reinventing Writing in my classroom in Iowa City. You might be thinking well just run over there and get it. Whoa there Nelli! That would be 7 hours round trip on the road, not to mention a tank of gas. So, in lieu of writing my weekly post on learnings from Reinventing Writing, I thought I might start a new series of posts titled “I Wonder…..”

We are all called to be like the little children. I guess that would mean that we should ask questions, think creatively, wonder, and play. Of course, having fun and laughing is implied. I guess I got the idea for this from @coffeechugbooks Aaron Maurer and his Teacher Tinker Time. In future “I Wonder…’ posts, I am just going to put I wonder… as the heading and bold the text of the things I am wondering about. If you would like to help out, just leave something you wonder about in the comments or tweet me or shoot me an Email. My hope is that by wondering, we might engage our collective creative juices flowing. Follow the hashtag #IWonder and we will see what we come up with.

I Wonder…..

how someone ever came up with the jackalope. My friend @SKwikkel was recently out in South Dakota on vacation and reminded me of this creature that I learned about on my childhood family trip to SD.

Picture of Jackalope postcard from Wall Drug

Courtesy Wall Drug

how do green screens really work? I’ve used them a few times in my career, but how exactly do they work? I had my daughters take Fall photos of me in front of our green screen and I was able to put that together with a picture of Carson Park in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Wave the magic wand and I’m standing in the outfield!

Fall Photo

Fall Photo Using Green Screen – Photographer Kat

why do teenagers complain so much? Yes, I’ve been teaching them for over fifteen years, but now I live with one and I guess I never noticed it so much before. My daughter says it’s in the teenager handbook (I really need to find that handbook).

when do adults tend to lose their sense of wonder? It seems that as we progress in age that we become detached from wonder and awe. Why is that?
 

 

why, since Google is so successful, don’t all places of business try to model their fun-loving model of engagement? From what I have seen, the GooglePlex looks like a huge playground for adults.

Comfortable seating at the Googleplex

Image Courtesy bryanesque

 

 

 
why May Flies come out in July? I was driving on the pike between La Crosse and La Crescent last night and my car became spattered with bug juice and there were so many of them crushed on the highway that it was actually slippery in spots!

An emergent Mayfly

Image Courtesy La Crosse Fish and Wildlife Office

will I be the best teacher for the students I have this year? I want so badly to help my students become excited about learning how to learn but I often-times doubt myself and my abilities. Is this normal or just me here?

What do you Wonder about?

My Brain is Full!

Arrggggh! My brain is full! In my corner of the technoverse I am feeling pulled in too many directions at one time. Getting the kids to their summer activities, keeping up with social media, completing two online courses, following #NotAtISTE14 and #ISTE2014 blog posts, trying to find a new home, the #summerLS challenges, Voxing with new friends, and trying to do some PD reading along with trying to create new curriculums . . . Who was that person that said teachers never do anything in the summer? My summer is full, self inflicted, yes, but full none the less. 

Boring

Today (Saturday), I had to complete vocabulary that was due Friday and an essay that was due yesterday for a Mexican history course I am taking. Now don’t get me wrong, I love learning and I have been taking online courses since 2009, but how do people learn by merely reading professors notes and textbooks? It’s interesting that the only things graded for this course are a dozen vocabulary words each week and a weekly essay. Sounds pretty easy until the professor expects that 10-15 hours a week should be spent reading and no sources except the course notes and the textbook are allowed to be referenced in either assignment. This is done merely to check for understanding of assigned reading material. I can’t spend 2 hours a day reading! I’m a father with a wife and four kids. Kind of flies in the face of what we are trying to have our 21st Century pK-12 students do. Is this really what college has become? A mere regurgitation, in paraphrase, of the course materials.history-mexico-dvd-cover-art

Acceptable Use and Large Internet Companies

I cannot put Vicki Davis’s (@coolcatteacher) book down.

http://www.coolcatteacher.com/reinventing-writing-vicki-davis/

Reinventing Writing Book Cover

She had me hooked from the very first page. So, in chapter two I realized that a school needs to revisit its acceptable use policy (AUP) on a regular basis. I also learned that we all should be reading those things that we just normally click agree to so that we can get to the information or tool we want to access. Some companies, Google and Facebook, to name a couple provide their services for free, but they use our information to their advantage. Facebook just came out in the open about a social experiment that they performed where they manipulated data so that some users got more negative news from friends and others got more positive news from friends. See Facebook and Google can do just about anything they want with the information they access about us.

If you know me at all, I am pretty open about my digital footprint as well as sharing lessons and information with others, but I am getting just a tad bit unsettled by how Google and Facebook as well as other online companies are using and manipulating my online experiences. 


Reinventing Writing

The biggest take away I have from chapter two is that when selecting a digital tool I should always ask the question, “what am I trying to do?” It is pretty obvious that we should not just be using technology for the sake of using something technological, but that we should be using technology to help us do things better or more efficiently. For example, I use the tool Evernote for writing and editing my blog posts. Are there other tools I could be using? Sure there are, but I feel that this one is

Picture of Evernote logo

Evernote App

cleaner and easier than others. I can access my notes from my MacBook, iPhone, iPad, android, or almost any device that connects to the Internet. If I had to hand write and edit my blog posts, then I would probably not engage in this very helpful activity. It’s a tool that helps me in my writing and helps me reflect on the things I have done, I am doing, or I might do in the future.

Another take away for me is that there may be very good reasons for the Internet policies that schools have concerning access. (Cue Adam Bellow’s version of Filter Wall set to the tune Wrecking Ball) On the other hand I struggle with why filter anything with the exception of pornography? If we want our kids to become good digital citizens then we need to teach them to stay engaged in appropriate activities and keep away from inappropriate activities. I wonder how many parents hand their kids a smart phone, let em lose with it all day long, but then expect schools to keep them away from things that are inappropriate? I agree with Adam’s plight in Filter Wall, and I have had the experience of finding something for my students only to have it blocked the day we go to actually use it. Frustrating? Absolutely! Necessary? Absolutely not! When did we get to the point that we have to prove an educational purpose before using a website? Who decides what and educational purpose is? Could I use alcohol, cigarette ads, and games for educational purposes? It may be that good intentions are meant but it seems to be more work for everyone in the long run. Especially when it comes to games. It really rubs me wrong when anything with the word “game” is blocked or filtered. I guess we shouldn’t have fun in the classroom.

What is your favorite tool? What are your feelings about the filter wall?