A Tale of Two Schools – Guest Post from Courtney Pepe

This post first appeared on Daily Genius.

Two schools are both alike in dignity. Part of our story takes place in Jersey City, NJ while the other part takes place 32 miles away in Roslyn, NY. Some would argue that this is the best of times and the worst of times in education. This case study will celebrate what is good about education today by presenting two stories that illustrate how Green Screen technology on iPad can be used to support authentic student voice in learning environments on different ends of the educational spectrum.

School #1 – Roslyn High School, Nassau County, Long Island New York

In wealthy, suburban Long Island, Larry Reiff uses Green Screen technology to make Romeo and Juliet more modern. As a humanities teacher, he is always looking for ways to infuse 21st Century skills into his units of study. He incorporates iPads, iBooks, and apps to make sure that his students can interact with complex texts in ways that will make them excited about literature that was written many centuries ago.

The DoInk app by Green Screen allows the high school students to take on the role of film critics. In the following example, Larry used the cloud or AirDrop to send students in his class video clips from the 1996 movie version of Romeo and Juliet. The students then recorded themselves commenting on the movie clip in front of a Green Screen. In the DoInk app, they combined layers and placed their literary commentary over the video footage from the movie.


To watch this video is to see that not only are the students in Larry’s class engaging in higher order thinking skills but also in learning tasks that were not previously possible. This particular learning activity would not be possible without iPads and Green Screen technology; it would simply be inconceivable. Hearing the teenager talk in a false British accent saying “this is not the way Shakespeare intended” is a humorous example of student voice. The student then goes on to analyze and critique the use of a contemporary setting in the movie stating that “I think that Shakespeare would have liked his plays to be really timeless because he does use themes that carry on no matter what year it is.” This is the kind of self-directed learning and academic rigor that you get in an educational setting when you take a great teacher like Larry Reiff who is passionate about his content and add innovative technology to the equation.

School #2 A. Harry Moore of New Jersey City University, Hudson County, Jersey City, New Jersey

Steve Goldberg, Building Principal, and his staff of teachers, therapists, and paraprofessionals use Green Screen technology with the unique population of their inner city school. The A. Harry Moore Laboratory School of New Jersey City University is a historic institution/special education school that serves children ranging from preschool to age 21. While the first school in this article uses Green Screen technology with a suburban population, the students at A. Harry Moore come from Hudson, Essex, and Bergen Counties. The school also has a diverse population where all of the students have individualized education plans, or IEP’s.

At  A. Harry Moore, the Green Screen technology is used to extend and expand educational opportunities for their severely disabled low-incidence students. The staff members use the technology to educate, empower, and enrich special education students. Many of the students at A. Harry Moore are in wheelchairs. However, Green Screen technology allows these students to go beyond their disability and experience – on some level – what it is like to walk, swim, or fly. The three preschool classes used the Green Screen app as a component of their physical education experience by dancing in front of the iPad. The project increased the confidence and independence of the student population by allowing them to be Green Screen movie stars in variety of authentic school productions.

The student voice is evident and powerful in these Green Screen projects. In fact, it is a chance to use technology to give communication-impaired students a chance to express themselves. As part of the summer school program in 2014, the students in the 16-21 classes made a music video with the Green Screen app Do Ink and layered it with the Pharell song “Happy.” It was a great community project for the students, and they loved watching the final product. Other classes in the school used the Green Screen to reinforce geography skills. Students who physically might not be able to travel to the United Nations (which is 11 miles from the school across the Hudson River) were able to take a virtual field trip there thanks to the Green Screen technology. To watch the Green Screen footage of the students at A. Harry Moore is to witness the power of creativity and technology in schools.

The Green Screen project infused academic rigor into the curriculum by allowing students to practice 21st Century literacy skills which were integrated with their speech therapy goals. In his 2006 TED Talk, Sir Kenneth Robinson states “creativity is as important as literacy in schools.”

Call to Action

These 2 schools are unlike in many ways, but they are indeed alike in dignity. Both schools use the Green Screen technology to make sure that the voice of their student population is heard. By doing this, the schools promote academic rigor through the use of the Green Screen to create new learning experiences. Both schools allow students to increase their independence when they complete these interactive learning activities. Calling all schools in all four corners of the globe! You simply MUST try teaching with Green Screen technology – it will lead to the creation of meaningful student-driven products in the 21st Century classroom.

Courtney Pepe is the Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction at The A. Harry Moore School of New Jersey City University.

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