Shout out to Eva Buyuksimkesyan from whom I first saw this on her blog post titled "Twitter Bios for Book Characters". She wrote about how students can take part in this activity in which they create Twitter accounts.
I thought I would take this idea and make a template that teachers and students could use to digitally create their own Twitter profiles. This template was created in Google Drawing so that it is easy for users to make their own copies. I have seen this done for quite some time with services like FakeBook, which allows students to create fake Facebook accounts of characters. This Twitter template though is not a service so students will need to know a little on how to use Google Drawing.
Here are the TWO reasons why I really like this lesson idea:
1) It has the students do research / introspection for their character/person. They will need to think as if they were this person to either summarize their achievements or highlight their characteristics. They will also need to know about others who were connected to them in some way. For example if I was do assigned Atticus Finch from "To Kill A Mockinbird" I would have to know about his relationship with three individuals such as Scout, Boo Radley, and Tom Robinson.
2) This teaches students how to use and manipulate the tools found in Google Drawing. These skills are the same for other programs like Docs and Slides. Students will become more proficient with all these and find themselves using techniques like Crop, Layering, Shape Tools, etc for years to come.
One of my favorite apps for the iPad has got to be Green Screen by Do Ink. This post will share some ideas which I hope you may be able to share with your students or other teachers.
[Here comes the historical background section of this post]
My past with Green Screen goes back quite a few years ago to a conference when I saw Hall Davidson speak. I had heard of green and blue screen chroma key before, in fact I still remember seeing a special effects documentary on Star Wars in the late 70's when I was a kid which introduced this effect tool - and of how I love YouTube, because someone found and posted this special called The Making of Star Wars. This link will take you just to the part about the blue screen. But it was Hall, who was the first one to show me that this idea can be applied in education. I thought, "this is so fantastic and I would love to use it in my classes".
But, from there that idea just kind of sat. By that I mean (and I am sure this has happened to any of you have attended a conference before) I was inspired but didn’t do anything about. About 6 months later I had a student ask me if I was OK with her recording my history lectures on her voice recorder. I said sure, but really it took me back to the moment when I saw Hall present and I thought, “What if I don’t just have her record me, but what if I recorded myself not just with audio but with video?
So this was my plan; I would set up a video camera on a shelf in the back of my room and then I would stand in front of my podium and pin a piece of green fabric behind me. I would then conduct the lecture making sure to not move so as to always keep me in the center of the shot with the green fabric behind me. The magic came back on my computer in the editing phase of this project.
I would take my PowerPoint and save it not as a .PPT but as .JPGs which meant that I would have an image saved of every PowerPoint slide. I would then take these still slide images and my green screen video and drop them into the video editor which I was (and still am) using, Adobe Premiere Elements. It was in the program where I would be the images in the back layer and then my video on the front layer. Then by using the Chroma Key feature (that is the actual terms for green screen stuff) I would make the green disappear and I would be left standing in front of my PowerPoint lecture. I moved my video to the lower left so that I would not be centered and in the end I looked like your local weather man narrating, except of talking about the 5 day forecast I was talking Mongols, Mayans and Mutual Assured Destruction.
As a history teacher my job is often to have students visualize the past. I try to do this with many different strategies from storytelling to project based learning to good ole fashioned reading, but one of the most powerful tools is to have them look at artifacts and primary sources.
In the digital age, we at times have gotten away from physical objects since we can just "find a picture of it on the internet." But the use of artifacts is a powerful tool for humans in learning. Just think about when you tour a museum or historical site and there are signs everywhere saying "Please don't touch". And this is because, We Love To Touch!
For example, here is a photo I took several years ago during a trip to Washington DC of the Martin Luther King Memorial. I had visited DC many years before this memorial was built, but on this recent trip I was able to run over the the MLK memorial just as the sun was setting.
My first impression of the memorial was how approachable it was. I walked down the path the the statue and then stood at the base of Dr. King himself. Now, as I stood their and gazed upon him I was filled with emotion and a sense of contentedness
You can imagine what the next thing I did was... reach out and touch it. The marble was the same as any other marble I have touched before, but something human inside us all wants to reach out and feel it.
It is this desire to make a physical connection with an object that can help you liven up your social studies lessons.