We’re Going Green…..

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Green Screen that is!!!

In fact, we painted an entire wall green.

So today — for 5th grade — we started making our NEWSCAST screen shots.   This is our prelim into Video.

We talked first about newscasts, diving a screen into thirds to allow space for background, etc.

Then we opened keynote and created a green slide background with a horizontal bar with names.   (students changed fonts, colors, size as they wished)

Looked something like this:

Then the students took turns taking pictures of each others — with the microphone -

and it looked something like this:


The picture is of our Children’s Pastor, Tony!!

We ran out of time — so next week — we will wander to the playground and take pictures.  Something like this:

Then, using the DO-INK app, we will combine all three shots into 1 shot!


Once we get that done, we will transfer the pictures to our laptops and create posters using Publisher, or big huge labs, or Fireworks.   Not sure yet which!

Engagement was huge.   Students who “understood” the keynote app were wandering helping those who did not.   The picture taking was hysterical.   All in all — a lot was learned in a very creative way.

I love my job!


Classroom Crib Challenge

Just Jen's Thoughts 1 Comment »

I decided to share our Room-Makeover and also be a part of The Classroom Cribs Challenge

so — here is our summer makeover.

Last year — our lab looked like this:


and it worked for us.  4 Bulletin boards — 7 long tables for PC towers/monitors, a round table for the ipads, & teacher desk (not shown)

During the year — we modified it a bit:
Moved ipad table from round to kidney shaped and added an ipad area towards the back of the room and moved the iMacs from the left wall of the room to the back row on the right.

and since we wanted to utilize green screen — we made the best with what we had:
But — I wanted — we needed — to have a summer “make-over”.

So I began to dream — and threw out ideas to the students — and began to listen to their ideas — and then “flipped our lab”.

The first thing was to paint one wall totally green….so I asked for ideas from twitter and then we tested 3 suggestions:
and ended up with Valspar Luscious Green (valspar 6010-7)

Then Chris – a friend and handyman – came in and we started to move tables:
and we bought new chairs and placemats (to add color to room)

and the we started to paint and went from beige to green:


We also removed 2 bulletin boards and added 3 blue (blackout) curtains to cover white board and 2 windows.   I moved my desk to the front of the room, the macs to the side, and the ipad area to the back wall.  And we added 28 Dell laptops which are wireless — so cables are pretty much bye-bye.

And here — tada — is what our room looks like now:

The big tables are on coasters — so they can slide as necessary.  The chairs are light and stackable!  The laptops are not tethered to ANYTHING – so we can make groups/clusters as quick as we wish.  Still a work in progress — and it needs students.

But all in all — this is our summer “lab make-over” and I am pretty pleased.   And so far, all students who have wandered in (and parents too) have said “WOW”.




I am an educator who LOVES bringing creative opportunities each day to my students.   Currently, I am working with a wonderful group of Kindergarten through 6th grade students at a Private Christian School in California.   Since 1999, I have been hosting online projects for elementary classrooms at ProjectsByJen.com.   I have won several awards for my projects – but those mean nothing compared to the smiles from students and the thanks from teachers! I enjoy traveling to conferences and edcamps and sharing ways to bring JOY and CREATIVITY back into your classroom. Follow me on Twitter @JenWagner.   Have a wonderful day!


It Is Easy Being Green

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To be honest — it took about 270+ kids under the age of 12 to help me get over my fear of video.

I always allowed it to be a hurdle I felt was too hard to get past.

Until we purchased ipads and let the students (and me) play.

The 2nd week of school — I handed the ipads to our 5th grade class and said “We are going to make movies about “What I Like About Calvary”.

and we launched imovie, talked a bit about pre-production needs, shots, etc….but we all learned together.
And through the year, more and more video came into our lab.  Sometimes with me being 1 step ahead of them, and more often than not….stepping out of their way and letting them lead.

And because of this —

during the summer — our walls went from THIS:


to THIS:



The paint is from Lowe’s and it is Valspar Luscious Green (valspar 6010-7) — and a parent donated the time and paint to help get this done.

So what will we do with a green wall?

We will create movies, and advertisements, and book reports, and news shows, and much much  more.

Our go-to apps will be
(1) the Green Screen Do Ink App (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/green-screen-by-do-ink/id730091131?mt=8) you can read more on how we used this last year by clicking HERE!
(2) iMovie app (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/imovie/id377298193?mt=8)

Also, we will be using this template shared by Tony Vincent:

We are still a “work-in-progress” classroom — as we all are learning together….
but with the addition of the green screen — and hoping for “LIGHTS” soon…..

it is going to be a good year using video in our lab.



Automation vs Personalization

Just Jen's Thoughts 2 Comments »

I am all for efficiency –

In fact, one of my favorite books “Cheaper by the Dozen” — the book, not the movie — shares a great deal about time efficiency.  The parents, Frank Gilbreth and Lillian Gilbreth, do many things to save time.  

And every so often, when I am wasting time — or perhaps driving somewhere — or doing some task — my mind turns to the Gilbreth’s — and I wonder what I could do to be as effective with my time as I could.

Yet — on the other hand, I don’t wish let efficiency trump the importance of personalization.

Which is why, I have chosen to stay away from “shortcuts” that send out messages from me that are generic and not personable and not real time.   And which is also why I have turned off the “post for me” on facebook.

I wish to remain in control of what I post — to who — and when.

Which is why, I found it interesting today when someone else verbalized what I felt.


For me — and I strongly say “for me” — it is very important that “I” remember not to let the computer speak for me — especially in areas that need that human connection.

  • I feel — for me — that when I send a thank you to someone — it needs to be me that says thank you.
  • I feel — for me — that when I share out a blog post for someone to read — it needs to be me who shares out that blog post (either while I am reading it or after I have read it)
  • I feel — for me — it is very important that at no time do I let a computer insert words that are could or could not be mine — without ME being the one who hits submit.

I will admit, that when people register for my projects — they get a generic welcome and when I send out certificates of participation — often that is a generic email as well.   But pretty much — everything else is “WYSIWJWH”  (what you see is what Jen wrote herself)

My life is super busy —
but for me, if my life becomes too busy to be authentic and personable
or if I let something say what I should have taken the time to say myself  — then someone please stop me and let me know.

Just my thoughts today



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