Free & Easy Green Screen Editing – How to Make Transparent Backgrounds

Your Green Screen Editing Just Got Easier!

Ever wanted to remove the background from an image for free without a tablet or a paid App? You can! I’m going to share two ways you can easily do green screen editing regardless of the device you have!

This post will cover 2 different ways to make transparent backgrounds, one for Mac/iPad/iPhone users and one for online photo editing with Chromebooks or other non-iOS devices!

For Mac/iPad/iPhone Users:

There is a feature called Instant Alpha that is available in both Pages and Keynote. That’s the magical (free!) tool that will allow you to take your green screen editing to the next level! Pages and Keynote are two different Apple programs that are available as built-in Apps on both Mac computers and iOS devices (iPad and iPhone), this green screen editing tip will work in both.

Instant Alpha green screen editing

Follow these 5 simple steps to get started with Instant Alpha:

  1. Open Pages or Keynote App (included as built-in App) or download them from the iTunes App Store if you don’t have them.
  2. Start a new document. Import an image with a solid background colour, make sure it’s selected (click on it).
  3. Click on the “Image” tab on the right side of the screen, then “Instant Alpha” button.
  4. Put your cursor on the background colour you want to remove, hold and slide your cursor to select the percentage you want to be taken out. Anything that turns purple will become transparent when you let go. Do this until the entire background colour is gone.
  5. Click “Done” at the bottom and voilà, your background is now transparent!

 Here’s a more detailed how-to tutorial video of Instant Alpha in action:

 

For Chromebook or Web-based Users:

For this background removal, the method is similar, but it’s all done online via the web browser of your choice which makes it ideal for any 1:1 Chromebook classrooms with no access to tablets! The website I used for this green screen editing technique is called LunaPic. It’s a fully web-based photo editor with many other options, but for this post, we will just concentrate on the background removal or “transparent” option. Thank you to Sandra Chow for first introducing me to LunaPic.
How to remove backgrounds from photos online - Lunapic

Follow these 5 simple steps to get started with LunaPic:

  1. Visit the LunaPic online editor, click here.
  2. Scroll down and click on the ‘transparent’ link.
  3. Next, you have a choice of either uploading an image or providing a URL to an image. Do whichever suits your needs.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions and click on the background to remove it and make it transparent. You can then slide the threshold to remove more or less of the colour you picked.
  5. Click the ‘save’ link on the bottom left and the photo will download to your hard drive. You could also choose to share via several social media channels. That’s it!

Here’s a more detailed how-to tutorial video of LunaPic in action:

Now that you have these skills how can you use them?

App-smash!! Put your newly created images into Google Drawings add a background and have students create stories, poems, (fake) newspaper articles, greeting cards, funny memes, postcards, movie posters, PSAs, ads or even put Halloween costumes into context — the possibilities are endless, really!

Be creative and have fun!

Green Screen Editing with G Suite!

Once you get the hang of it, why not try participating in Pic Forward, a Global Green Screen Challenge by my grade 4 & 5 students for other students around the world? It’s thanks to Pic Forward that I’m learning and creating easier ways to use green screen editing in the classroom. I came up with Pic Forward Templates, which are all-in-one one-stop-shop green screen editing canvases using Google Drawings.
Pic Forward Template How-to infographic

Here’s a step-by-step how-to tutorial video that you can share with
students to help get started with #PicForward creating:

Check out our project at bit.ly/PicForward, consider participating with your students just grab June’s template here: bit.ly/picforward001 (new templates coming once a month!) and start getting creative!

So…as my students would say, “What’s YOUR Green?”. Have fun with the green screen editing and please share your creations using the #PicForward hashtag.

Thanks for reading!

Flippity Add-on for Google Sheets

Are you a teacher looking for a fun and easy way to make online class groupings, flash cards, quiz game templates and more for your classroom? Look no further, check out the Flippity Add-On for Google Sheets!

Step-by-step instructions:

1) Open Google Sheets.
2) Click “Add-ons” > “Get add-ons…”

Flippity Add-on Mrs. Geek Chic

3) Search the word “Flippity” in the Add-ons search (top right).
4) Click on the blue “FREE” button to add the Add-on.

Flippity Add-On Mrs. Geek Chic

5) Go back into Google Sheets. Click “Add-ons” > Flippity > Pick a template. (I chose Quiz Show)

Flippity Add-On Mrs. Geek Chic

6) Edit your template to add quiz show questions that match your subject/curriculum.

Flippity Add-On Mrs. Geek Chic

7) Once finished editing the template to your needs, click “Add-ons” > “Flippity” > Flippity.net URL

Flippity Add-On Mrs. Geek Chic

8) Click on the blue link to activate your template and start playing your quiz game. Here’s a French Quiz Show I made about the movie “Le petit Nicolas”. You’ll notice you can change the number of teams at the bottom with the + – buttons, and there are even sound effects for correct/wrong answers!

 

Flippity Add-On Mrs. Geek Chic

Flippity Add-on’s Random Name Picker

The Random Name Picker in the Flippity Add-on is another great template tool for classrooms! Follow the same steps above, except for this one (step 6) you edit in the names of the students in your class on the Google Sheet. You’ll be able to easily make groups or teams in the click of a button! Here’s a short video of the name picker in action:

You can also try and see demos of the templates from the Flippity.net website.

Thanks to Kim Pollishuke for introducing me to Flippity with her winning BIT Slam at Bring IT Together Conference 2016! I also took home a demo slam win with Flippity Add-On at TDSB’s Google Camp in March 2017. If that doesn’t prove how flippin’ awesome this tool is, I don’t know what else will. Give it a try!

#tdsbEd Twitter Chat Celebrates 1 Year!

I can’t believe it’s been over a year since Arianna and I embarked on the #tdsbEd Twitter Chat adventure! Our goal has been to connect, share and learn with other TDSB Educators because we know that as teachers our best resource is one another!

#tdsbEd sketchnote @MrsGeekChic
Larissa’s sketchnote from #tdsbEd Chat on February 23, 2017.

Throughout the past year, we’ve hosted #tdsbEd chats on a variety of relevant topics and subjects areas and many amazing resources, ideas and thoughts have been shared. Along with the sharing came connecting and building relationships that we may not have made outside the realm of Twitter. All of the chats have been archived on our website here.

#tdsbEd 1 Year @MrsGeekChic

On Thursday, April 6th we Celebrated #tdsbEd’s 1st Birthday with a live face-to-face gathering & Twitter Chat at the TDSB Board Office. It was such a great way to celebrate and meet the “tweeps” we had only (for the most part) communicated with online virtually! A huge thank you to Peter Singh & Carlo Di Felice for supporting us with this celebration and for supplying the location, food and refreshments!
#tdsbEd 1 Year @MrsGeekChic

Thank you to everyone who has made #tdsbEd Twitter Chat what it is today, especially our guest moderators and participants who make it great!

Here’s a list of all of the #tdsbEd Twitter Chats from the past year:

  • Spring’s Here! Get Active – 20/4/17
    Guest moderator George Kourtis @HPE_TDSB 
  • #tdsbEd Turns 1! – Celebrating 1 Year of Connecting, Sharing & Learning Together – 6/4/17
  • Teaching with Tech – 23/3/17
  • The Arts – 9/3/17
  • Sketchnoting with Sylvia Duckworth – 23/2/17
    Guest moderator Sylvia Duckworth @SylviaDuckworth
  • Picture Books To Spark Innovation – 9/2/17
  • There’s More to G Suite Edu – 26/1/17
  • Goal Setting & The Work-Life Balance – 12/1/17
  • Engaging Learners in Mathematics – 15/12/16
  • Inquiry in the Classroom – 1/12/16
    Special guest Trevor MacKenzie @trev_mackenzie
  • Coding in the Classroom – 17/11/16
    – Guest moderator Biran Aspinall @MrAspinall
  • French as a Second Language – 3/11/16
    – Guest moderator Deborah Zamin @D_Zamin
  • Blogs & Classroom Websites – 20/10/16
  • Assessment & Evaluation – 6/10/16
  • Differentiation – 22/9/16
    – Guest moderators Holly Sharpe @HollyinTO & Lori Moore @LoriMoore674
  • Back to School – Building the Classroom Community – 8/9/16
  • Digital Portfolios for Students & Teachers – 11/8/16
  • Digital Tools for Teachers – 14/7/16
  • Professional Learning in the Summer – 30/6/16
  • The Library – Your Connection to Amazing Resources – 16/6/16
              – Guest moderator Lisa Radha Weaver @TDSBLibrary
  • #GAFE in the Classroom & Schools – 2/6/16
  • Digital Citizenship – 19/5/16
              – Guest moderator Diana Hale @
  • Mindfulness in Schools – 5/5/16
  • STEAM & the Maker Movement – 21/4/16
  • Innovation in Education – 7/4/16
  • Teaching & Learning with Technology – 29/3/16

During one of our recent #tdsbEd Twitter Chats, we introduced a fun #TwitterDemoSlam where participants shared a quick tech tip or trick in 140 characters.
Check them all out using the hashtag #TwitterDemoSlam!
Here’s mine:
#twitterdemoslam Larissa Aradj @MrsGeekChic

We look forward to continuing to grow the #tdsbEd Twitter Chat family and PLN. Collaborating, connecting and communicating make a difference to transform teaching and learning!

If you would like to contribute ideas for future chat topics please fill in this form.

Don’t forget to follow @tdsbEdChat and hashtag #tdsbEd every second Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Our next chat will be on The Global Competencies on May 4th. Hope to see you online!

BreakoutEDU Digital – Online Escape Games for Students

Want a fun activity for your class that promotes communication, collaboration, critical thinking, problem-solving and creativity? Check out BreakoutEDU Digital Online Escape Games!

What is it exactly?

  • An online digital escape game co-founded by Justin Birckbichler and Mari Venturino
  • Based on the BreakoutEDU kit educational games from James Sanders & Mark Hammons
  • All is organized and played on one website
  • Google Forms are used to make the locks (using data validation) and embedded into Google Sites
  • Games promote problem-solving, collaboration and can tie into any curriculum area
  • Find online clues that unlock the different types of locks in the Google Form on the site (you don’t need to find the locks in any particular order!)
  • Click around, find links, read carefully and use your “escape room” mindset to break out
  • All you need is an internet connection and a link to one of the games

Give it a try!

I’ve created two bilingual similar (but not identical!) games for a recent conference presentation. Feel free to try them out yourself or with your students.

Converse Confusion Online Escape Games - Larissa Aradj Le méli-mélo des Converse Online Escape Games - Larissa Aradj
English version: Converse Confusion (bit.ly/converseBOD)

French (FSL) version: Le méli-mélo des Converse (bit.ly/conversefr)

Here are some photos of TDSB Google Camp attendees posing after successfully breaking out!
Online Escape Games - Larissa Aradj French Online Escape Games - Larissa Aradj
I made the posters for the purpose of posing for celebration photos. You can find the folder to download and print them here or by clicking on the shared folder below.

Breakout Posters - Converse

Why?

As I mentioned above, these games are an amazing way to promote collaboration, problem-solving, communication, teamwork, critical thinking, creativity for students…and the list goes on!

I also love that as I listen to conversations while my students are playing, I can immediately hear:

  • Who my leaders are
  • Who needs to work on leadership skills
  • Who needs to work on growth mindset
  • Who my good communicators are
  • Who thinks outside the box
  • Who gives up right away (this has never actually happened because they’re always so engaged and eager to figure it out!)

For more online escape games check out the BreakoutEDU Digital site and the Sandbox for crowdsourced games by teachers like you and me! Sylvia Duckworth has also created some amazing TEAM Digital Breakouts with a Canadian theme (both French & English versions, too!), check them out and read all about it here.

If you’d like to know more and learn how to make BreakoutEDU Digital online escape games yourself please check out my presentation slide deck below inspired by bit.ly/dboslides & www.breakoutedu.com/digital 

Thanks for reading. Happy breakout’ing, hope you enjoy these online escape games!

Larissa Aradj

Pic Forward Global Green Screen Challenge

Pic Forward Logo Mrs. Geek Chic

What is Pic Forward?

Pic Forward is a global green screen challenge for students, teachers and schools. The idea is to have people all around the world edit our monthly green screen photos, then to “Pic Forward” or “pass it on” via social media to other classes so they can participate too. My grade 4 & 5 students are leading this project and want to try to spread creativity around the globe.

So far we’ve had Pic Forward participants from 7 countries! Check out our participant map below:

How Can You Participate?

Taking part is easy, all you need is an editing app and some creativity! The website I built with my grade 4 & 5 students has everything you need in order to participate in our Pic Forward Global Green Screen Challenge! My classes made an introduction video, nomination videodigital flyers, rules, and a “how-to edit” page to help promote the project. You can check out what previous participants have created here. Interested? Please fee free to follow us on social media channels –  @PicForward on Twitter, @PicForward on Instagram and Facebook. We hope you’ll be in touch!

 

Pic Forward How-to @MrsGeekChic

Pic Forward Templates – Edit Your Green Screen Images with G Suite

Pic Forward Template How-to

Here’s a video tutorial you can share with your students to help them get started with Pic Forward Templates, it’s easy peasy!

If you’d like to learn how to make transparent backgrounds using iOS, Chromebooks, or any device check out this blog post.

Check out bit.ly/PicForward to participate in the fun today, we can’t wait to meet you and see your creations!

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How it All Started

During our school’s Halloween celebration last year many students were dressed in amazing and original costumes. I decided to capture their creativity on camera, so I pulled out my homemade green screen, hung it up in the gym and took pictures of dressed up students in front of it. They loved that we could change the background to add context to their costumes!

I wrote a post on our Lord Lansdowne PS school blog to share all of the Halloween green screened photos, you can check that out here. The children loved it so much that I wanted to come up with a way to continue this beyond Halloween!

It was actually a physical education challenge called Burp It On  that my students and I had participated in the year before that inspired the idea to go global with Pic Forward. I thought, why not take photos in front of the green screen then see what backgrounds other students and teachers around the world would put into them. It was like a modern-day Flat Stanley or Postcard Pete, do you remember them? (Thanks, Michelle Armstrong for making this connection and reminding me of our old-school paper friends!) By participating and running Pic Forward my students get to travel the world without leaving our classroom, plus it lent to creating potential relationships and collaboration with classes in other provinces, states, and countries.

Curriculum Connections

As a Media Literacy teacher, my goal is to encourage my students to make responsible and positive decisions regarding their use of technology. Many of my lessons are centered around {digital} citizenship, positive digital footprints, healthy living/relationships and global competencies. My overall teaching goal is for my students to be excellent global citizens online and in life in general. I can’t think of a better way to introduce these topics than with an authentic project where we can think critically about social media and our uses of digital tools.

Some of the main themes and topics my classes will touch on through the course of this year-long project are:
Digital Citizenship
Internet Safety
Communication
Problem Solving
Collaboration
Digital Fluency
Reading and Writing
Media Forms & Literacy
Positive Digital Footprints
Healthy Living
Critical and Creative Skills
Global Citizenship & Character

You’re nominated! What’s your green??

A huge thank you to everyone who has already taken part in our project, we’re looking forward to many more creative pics in the future.Pic Forward Student Blog

My students recently decided they want to share their Green Screen learning with a student blog. Check it out here: www.picforward.wordpress.com

Check out more info about Pic Forward when I appeared on the TLC Ninja Teachers podcast here.

*Update* Our Pic Forward project will be featured in Todd Burleson’s new book that is set to launch in November 2017 entitled The Green Screen Maker Space Project Book – McGraw Hill. 

Happy green screening!

Là où je dors – An Interactive Website and Videos for FSL Classrooms

With the updates to the FSL curriculum in Ontario, we now have Listening and Speaking as two separate strands instead of the previous stand-alone “Oral” strand. For the Listening portion of the curriculum, I’ve found TFO’s Idéllo platform to be a great place for students to watch controlled content videos and for teachers to find ample resources, all in French. You can search for videos by grade level, subject, type, theme or skill – there are so many to choose from! Another bonus is that it’s free if your school board has a subscription. One of my favourite video series from Idéllo also has its own website, it’s called “Là où je dors“, and it is completely free.

Là où je dors is an interactive website with a selection of videos of Francophone children from all over the world who each give a glimpse into their lives and bedrooms. I love that this site exposes my students to several French accents and dialects that they wouldn’t necessarily hear here in Toronto.

Here’s a look at the website:

I had my students begin with the ‘Carte du monde’ tab in order to explore what areas of the world the Francophone children were from. Each star is a location on the map that features information and videos about specific children.
Là où je dors CARTE - Mrs. Geek Chic

When you click on the “Chambres” tab you can see an interactive photo of the children’s bedrooms. Certain items in the photo are hyperlinked and you can read about the objects in the room. The child’s name appears on the left and you can choose to view their video or click “Son Histoire” to look at one-page overviews of their story.

Là où je dors - Mrs. Geek Chic

Here’s an example of the one-page overviews, you can choose the tabs along the top to view “Son pays”, “Sa maison”, “Ses passions” or “Bric-à-brac” – there’s one for each Francophone child.

Là où je dors - Mrs. Geek Chic

There’s more! Within the Idéllo platform, you can find “à l’écoute” downloadable PDF teaching tools (les fiches) that go along with each of the Là où je dors videos. They include curriculum links, language acquisition strategies, assessment suggestions and lesson ideas. Here’s an example of one of the many “fiches” available for this video series.

Là où je dors FICHES - Mrs. Geek Chic

To find the above PDFs sign into your Idéllo account at https://www.idello.org/en (top right) –> search “Là où je dors” in the “Search by Keywords” field (top right) –> go to “Filter” (on the left) –> click “Type” –> Check off “Thematic Folder” and you’ll see them in the results (page 2-6 of results because the videos show up on page 1). Here’s a gif to walk you through it.


Last month I was featured in their French publication called Idéllo Magazine in the “Coup de coeur” section, I wrote about “Là où je dors”.

idello Là où je dors Magazine Mrs. Geek Chic

Là où je dors Magazine -Mrs. Geek Chic

Here’s the link to the full online Idéllo Magazine from December: http://magazine.idello.org/doc/idello/magazine-idello-decembre-2016/2016120701/16.html?key=b49841d3b59a0cb5367affeb6736bf9e#4

I’m heading to TFO’s Les Tablettistes Conference in Ottawa on Friday, looking forward to a great day of bilingual learning!

Give Là où je dors and Idéllo a try, I’m sure your students will enjoy them as much as mine do!

Two TDSB teachers selected for prestigious Google Certified Innovator Program #TOR16

Recently the Toronto District School Board published a Web Story about our Google Certified Innovator accomplishment. It’s an honour to be recognized along with Zélia Capitão-Tavares!

Google Certified Innovator Web Story
Here’s the link to the full Web Story: http://www.tdsb.on.ca/News/ArticleDetails/TabId/116/ArtMID/474/ArticleID/1012/Two-TDSB-teachers-selected-for-prestigious-Google-Innovator-Program.aspx

I also previously wrote two blog posts about my journey to GCI: Mindset Matters and some Takeaways from the Innovator Academy.

2016 was an amazing year for me professionally, looking forward to what’s to come in 2017!

Happy New Year to all!

Google Drawings 101

Larissa's Google Drawings 101 | Mrs. Geek ChicGoogle Drawings is one of my favourite G Suite tools, it truly is the ultimate blank canvas. Not to mention, everything I show in these tutorials about images, cropping, WordArt, etc. can also be used in Google Slides!

What is Google Drawings?

  • Don’t let the name fool you, you don’t need to be an artist or amazing drawer or artist to use this tool–I’m not!
  • Drawings is a simple GAFE/G Suite  tool in which you can:
    • annotate on visuals and photos;
    • create illustrations, posters, graphic organizers, digital manipulatives and more.
  • Think of it as Google’s version of “Paint”…but better!

How can you use Google Drawings in your classroom?

Google Drawings Examples | Mrs. Geek Chic

Outside of the classroom and school context, I use Google Drawings often for creating things like logos, blog banners, social media flyers, photo collages, promotional posters, website icons and buttons, the list goes on. It’s a very versatile G Suite tool that can be used for almost anything!

Based on postive feedback from my “The Ultimate Blank Canvas – Creating wtih Google Drawings 101” workshop, I made some YouTube tutorials to compliment that training session.

Here are my 5 Google Drawings 101 tutorial videos: Intro & Shapes, All About Images, Creating with Shapes, WordArt and Shadowing Letters and How to Crop Into Shapes. Check them out below or on my YouTube Channel.

     

Here’s the Slide Deck from my training session:

Hoping this post helps you get creative and you enjoy Google Draw as much as I do.

Happy digital drawing!

Introducing Sketchollage – Sketchnoting & Photo Collages Come Together!

Sketchollage – a new creative way to express ideas, notes and experiences in your sktechnotes.

sketchollage-logo

Recently my friends Marie-Andrée Ouimet and Sylvia Duckworth inspired me to start sketchnoting. It’s basically like taking creative digital notes with drawings, logos, sketches and shapes mixed with handwriting. I’ve made a few now, they can be found here.

Sketchnoting is a way for me to sit back, decompress and wind down from a busy day. I can let my creativity go wild, even with my almost inexistent art/drawing skills. Despite my new love for this new hobby, I was realizing that my lack of artistic skills was making it harder and taking much longer for me to really express myself in my sketchnotes.  Not being able to depict people, the core of all of this being my PLN & relationships, made me think my sketchnote was missing some key aspects.

I wanted to paint a picture to convey my experience at the Bring IT Together (#BIT16) conference over the past 2 days…wait…”paint a PICTURE”…hummm…why not add photos into a sketchnote to help convey what happened at the conferece that way?

That’s where Sketchollage was born, it’s a mix of SKETCHNOTING & PHOTO COLLAGE. I feel pretty good about my first attempt because I was able to add photos of the sessions and capture smiles and energy on my camera then put it all together. Furthermore, it’s fun to add borders, frames, speech bubbles and designs over the photos, kind of like a digital scrapbooking.

Here’s my first ever sketchollage, it’s a mashup of my 2 days in Niagara Falls presenting and learning at #BIT16:

bit16-sketchollage-L.Aradj

I am going to continue to sketch-smash and include photos in my sketchnotes from now on when I can!

If you try it, make sure to use the hashtag #Sketchollage and please share it with me, I’d love to see all of the creativity out there!

Happy sketchollaging….!!

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My Takeaways from #TOR16 – Google Certified Innovator Academy

As most of you know I was lucky to be able to take part in the latest Google Certified Innovator Academy. After the 3 days that the 34 of us spent together there were quite a few discussions with my fellow #TOR16 Innovators around “how do we explain our experiences at the Innovator Academy to others when we get back to work?” and “It’s so hard to put it all into words…” So, I decided to try to tell the story of my experience through drawings, images and photos. My recent obsession with Sketchnoting (thanks to Sylvia Duckworth and Marie-Andrée Ouimet) inspired me to “draw” my takeaways from #TOR16 instead of writing them out. As a visual learner, I thought I’d do a blog post that contained limited writing and more images and drawings to help tell the story of the 3 amazing days I spent with like-minded Educators here in Toronto at the Google Offices! The sketchnote I drew is packed very full, similar to what my brain felt like after the Academy! GCI Academy was honestly the best professional development I’ve had in my 12 years as an Educator!
Here’s my attempt at a sketechnote:
(It was so hard to fit everything in!!)
Larissa's Sketchnote #TOR16I’ve started a Flickr Feed where I’m posting my sketchnotes. You can find it here.

Here are some photos from the GCI Academy:

I’m so honoured to be part of this group of awesome Educators who want to transform education. I made connections and friendships that will last well beyond the academy! Thank you to everyone who made this a reality for me, I can’t wait to see where these opportunities take all of us!

If you want written accounts of the Academy, check out these wonderful blog posts by some of my other #TOR16 tribe members:
Chris Webb
Isabelle Lavoie
Charity Helman
Mandi Tolen
Steven Morrison Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Brian Costello

As they say, “an image is worth 1000 words!” Thanks for viewing 😉

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