East Middle School teacher Ninoska Wiltse films seventh grade student Victoria Sohn practicing her presentation on Colombia in front of the green screen.

East Middle School teacher Ninoska Wiltse films seventh grade student Victoria Sohn practicing her presentation on Colombia in front of the green screen.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Teacher’s green screen helps enhance student learning

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published October 1, 2019

 East Middle School teacher Ninoska Wiltse works on her iPad using the green screen app to superimpose her student’s video onto a background.

East Middle School teacher Ninoska Wiltse works on her iPad using the green screen app to superimpose her student’s video onto a background.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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FARMINGTON HILLS — A new piece of technology has found its way into one East Middle School teacher’s classroom, and she’s already finding integrative ways to use it and benefit more than just her students.

Ninoska Wiltse — who teaches sixth and seventh grade social studies, eighth grade U.S. history, sixth and eighth grade science, and an English language learners class — attended a training session at the Oakland Schools intermediate school district in May put on by the Regional Educational Media Center Association of Michigan on how to integrate green screen technology into the classroom.

At the end of the session, Wiltse and 11 other educators walked away with a green screen and a $10 Amazon gift card to purchase a green screen app.

“First of all, I didn’t even think we were going to be awarded this technology,” Wiltse said. “But every single time I use it, I see more and more possibilities.”

Laura Cummings, the director of the Regional Educational Media Center Association of Michigan for Oakland Schools, said in an email that the green screen technology was chosen and provided because it’s a fairly easy tool to start with that provides endless opportunities of use.

‘It’s an open-ended technology that allows it to be used across the curriculum,” she said. “It encourages students to write, edit, perform and be creative.”

Wiltse began using the green screen during the tail end of last school year with her U.S. history students, “embedding” them into a certain place and time in history they had studied throughout the year. She also experimented with the video functions last school year, having her students pose as news reporters.

Wiltse said she didn’t want to try to force the technology into specific lesson plans or units this year, but rather to determine where the technology might be used to enhance the subject matter or opportunity for learning. After a conversation with the middle school’s world language teacher, a lightbulb went on.

The world language teacher asked Wiltse if she could borrow one of her students to give a live presentation in their native language. Wiltse thought, however, that she could use the green screen to record a two-minute video presentation of each of her students talking in their native language, and embed photos and videos of significant places from their home country behind them.

This way, Wiltse thought, the videos could be stored and reused for years to come. She began working with her three students in the class — twins of Syrian and Turkish descent, and one student of Colombian descent — to create scripts and practice them in front of the green screen.

While her students are currently working on these presentations in class, Wiltse said she’s already seen how using the green screen technology has enhanced their learning and made them more engaged. She said she no longer has to steer them toward revising and improving their work; they are doing that themselves without even realizing it.

“They are much more engaged. They are motivated. They see the relevance of the skills that we’re doing without necessarily highlighting the skills,” she said. “They see why it’s important to redo without me even suggesting it. They see the need for making sure it’s quality work, and I think in that sense, as we begin to incorporate those things, the students will be more empowered and more involved in their own education and the quality of  product they want to produce.”

As they continue to find innovative ways to use their new green screen technology, Cummings believes that, based on the examples she’s already seen from Wiltse’s classroom and others, the technology will improve student learning.

“We believe that green screen technology, when used to help students better focus on their learning goals, leads to students being more engaged in learning, enhanced experiences with deeper learning, and extended learning beyond the school day.”

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