Students use a green screen to record videos in the library. (Abbey Collins)

Students use a green screen to record videos in the library. (Abbey Collins)

The Haines School library was recently awarded a $3,000 grant from bestselling author James Patterson. The school’s librarian plans to use the money to purchase new iPads and video equipment to support the use of technology in the library.

A group of eighth-graders is spending their recess time in the library with a video camera, a green screen, and the soundtrack to the Broadway musical Hamilton. They take turns playing each part in the song, dancing in front of the camera and lip-syncing the words.

“It’s just fun,” says Haley Boron. “It’s hilarious. It’s just really fun to do with our friends and its different then just sitting around and doing nothing. It’s cool to have a green screen and a hilarious person at our disposal for doing awesome thing.”

That’s Haley Boron. The hilarious person she’s talking about is her classmate Eli Williamson.

“Miss Horner saw me dancing to someone in the hall over there and she said ‘you know what I can put up the green screen and you guys can do it in front of here and have a background.’ That started it and we just kept coming back for different things,” says Williamson.

These students choose to use the green screen during their free time. The idea to use library space for video production came about when school librarian Leigh Horner was coming up with a project for last year’s fifth grade class.

“I really like the idea of using technology to support literacy,” says Horner.

A friend suggested she use the green screen and an iPad app that allows you to layer an image under video recorded in front of the screen.
ACT: We came up with the idea that the kids would write a script using an outline and creating a book review and then filming it in front of the green screen.

They called them ‘Book Bites.’ This one was made last May and features student Luke Davis.

The short videos are posted to YouTube, and then used as a resource in the library. They created QR codes to put on the back of corresponding books.

“So that the kids could then scan the QR code and see a little review about the book they were interested in,” says Horner.

But Horner says she has been limited by the equipment available to her.

“Unfortunately in the library I didn’t have any iPads,” says Horner. “I would have to use the classroom iPads and sometimes they weren’t available. I have eight iPads in here now but they are left over from a few years ago where when they get new equipment I kind of get the stuff that’s left over.”

She says last year she had different production stations set up around the library.

“And we had to use green paper that was just taped to the wall,” says Horner. “You can see the music stands that hold up the iPads with a tissue box. The idea was it would be really great if we had newer iPads, we had speakers, we had microphones, to make the whole program just run smoother.”

So when the James Patterson grant came up, Horner jumped on it.

“I thought wow, what I could do is I could get new equipment for the library and then I wouldn’t have to struggle with getting it from the classroom. I would have my own equipment,” says Horner.

This is the second year of the grant. Each year the bestselling author has given $1.75 million to school libraries throughout the country. This year, 452 schools received grants ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. As part of a partnership with Patterson, Scholastic Reading Club then matches donations with “bonus points,” for schools to purchase books and materials.

Horner says the $3,000 grant will allow her to purchase new iPads, microphones, a second green screen, an iPad tripod, and a green-man suit.

“I’m going to be working with the high school class next week after Thanksgiving, working on some mythology videos,” says Horner. “And then next semester I’ll be working with the fifth grade class again to create book bites with them.”

Horner says the activities combine student’s reading, writing and technology skills. And, they have a lot of fun with it.