Category: Classroom

Green screen science

Cue the music…the student director slaps the clapboard together saying “TAKE 1” … and… ACTION!   Three first graders stand proudly in front of a green screen reporting “live” from a swamp as zoologists.   Our first grade learners completed a collaborative, technology-rich project meeting all sorts of CCSS and ISTE standards in a fun and innovative way and YOU can too!

The first grade and technology integration teachers spent 30 minutes planning together so students will become experts scientists through research.  From there, the two teachers co-taught lessons over a period of two weeks that innovatively incorporated basic research, science, literacy and technology in every lesson.   

Picture of three 1st grade students in safari gearWe started by showing a short video so students could build background knowledge and excitement about recording in front of a green screen!  We narrowed the science topic to six extreme weather types (in 2016) and six different animals (in 2017).

Students “voted with their feet” by standing by the image, posted on the wall, that they choose to research: either a weather topic or an animal  Students remained in these collaborative groups for the duration of the project.

Students researching on PebbleGoOur first grade students used the online database, PebbleGo, to conduct collaborative research.  To jigsaw the learning, one student became an EXPERT in their field by being in charge of one tab of learning in the PebbleGo program. All students completed a graphic organizer for their notes.  Organizer Weather and Organizer Animals.

After student research, a teacher helped students succinctly write their script.  Here are script templates you can use: weather script template, an animal script template,  a weather script student example and an animal script example.

Students also selected transition phrases such as This just in,”  “You won’t believe this!,” “Breaking News!,” etc. to add flair to their scripts.  Our students worked and worked to memorize their work.

On the big day students “became” a zoologist or meteorologist and recorded their script in front of the green screen to display their learning. A call to the district costume shop enabled our learners to dress the part.  We used iMovie to publish the movie.  A small group of enrichment students helped create the iMovie using this student guide to help them.

Mike Nelson visits elementary schoolLearning didn’t end there! We then invited the Denver Zoo for an in-house field trip.  As a Title 1 school, our fee was very reasonable!  Students interacted with live animals with a real, live zoologist sharing his knowledge.  We also invited Mike Nelson for a school assembly.  Contact Mike to invite him to your school!

Innovatively integrating technology into your classroom can be intimidating, but a little risk can have a HUGE payoff as students become active agents in their own learning.  Enjoy the final projects of our first grade meteorologists and zoologists.


Guest author Robbi Makely is a Digital Learning Coach for Denver Public Schools.  Follow her on Twitter @RobbiMakely.

Image of the InnEdCO logoIf you’re like me, you love learning from others’ stories of innovation.  In this new space, InnEdCO seeks to to showcase two to three of Colorado’s home-grown innovation stories per week.  Visit often, contribute your own innovation stories, and keep the learning going all year round.  

Broad areas we’d like to showcase include innovations:

  • In leadership 
  • In instructional practices (classroom practices)
  • Based on learners’ perspectives

Click here for a starter list of possible topics and submit your proposed post here.  Questions?  Please contact Partnerships Chair Liz Walhof at  


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