Erika Sandström, Digital Learning Coach/Digital Media Teacher at Peabody Schools

Erika is a Digital Learning Coach and Digital Media Teacher in her 33rd year as an educator currently specializing in Green Screen and creative video production.  Dubbed “Green Screen Gal”, Erika shares her creative media and mindfulness passions as a featured speaker at conferences, provides district PD, hosts online webinars, serves as a Canvassador for Canva, and co-hosted Week of AI and Genially EDFest.  Erika also created the  Green Screen Summit and was featured on the cover of the Ed Tech K12 Magazine and named one of TOP 30 IT Inlfuencers to follow. Her book “Cultivating Compassion Through Creativity” is out in 2024!


In the rapidly evolving landscape of education, innovative tools are transforming traditional classrooms into dynamic hubs of magical creativity and clever engagement. One such technological marvel that has found its place in education is the green screen! Originally a staple of the film and television industry, the green screen offers a myriad of possibilities for creative video production that has truly helped my students on so many levels of learning and social development. This article delves into 5 ways I have witnessed this magical education tool collectively enhance learning experiences while also supporting social-emotional development in the classroom!

1. Student-Created Video Content:

Empowering students as creators of content is a transformative aspect of green screen technology. By integrating video production into the mix, students not only engage with the subject matter but also develop critical thinking and communication skills. The video production process becomes a catalyst for deeper understanding. Green screens provide a versatile canvas for educators to create immersive learning environments. Teachers can transport students to historical events, far-off places, or even inside the human body, fostering a deeper understanding of the subject matter. When I share how educators can take a unit or lesson they have always used and allow the students to create a green screen video as an option for a project, students truly master the content! Let’s be honest, kids and teens LOVE to watch themselves on video, so if their creation is on a Science concept such as the “convection process,” they will learn the material just from the many outtakes and bloopers that naturally happen, as well as watching it over and over again during editing, etc. By allowing students to step into the content they are studying, green screens turn abstract concepts into tangible, memorable experiences.

2. Stop Motion Animation for Dynamic Learning:

Enter stop motion animation, a captivating technique that adds another layer of creativity to the classroom. Students can bring inanimate objects to life, animate historical events, or illustrate complex scientific processes. When students create a stop motion animation on ANY concept, such as a mathematical word problem or the layers of the earth’s crust, or even step-by-step instructions for ANY skill, they certainly remember it! The meticulous nature of stop motion requires patience, planning, and attention to detail, fostering skills such as perseverance and problem-solving while adding an element of fun to the learning process. Students also express a ton of pride after a big project like this!

3. Enhancing Presentation Skills:

The integration of green screens, video production, and stop-motion animation in classroom activities cultivate polished presentation skills. From scripting to filming, students learn the art of storytelling, visual communication, and effective delivery, as well as relationship skills. Not ALL students want to speak on camera, and honestly, powerful creative video production only includes a small amount of this method of sharing. I encourage students to use a variety of presentation modalities to get their story or information expressed, such as voiceovers with visuals on the screen, non-verbal communication such as pointing to the information while having a voiceover share the information, or even a think bubble with a fun face to match it saying, ‘hmmm.” Students are much more comfortable acting and pointing if they do not have to speak on camera, and it makes a much more powerful video for others to watch. Voiceover recording also requires many of the same presentation skills that speaking on camera does, such as voice inflection, emotion, speaking clearly, etc. A great example of these presentation skills is by Brad Montauge and Kid President in “20 Things People Should Say More Often!” These skills not only prepare them for academic challenges but also for future endeavors where communication is key.

4. Collaborative Projects in Action:

Green screen, video production, and stop motion animation projects often necessitate collaboration, transforming classrooms into creative studios. Students work together to plan, shoot, and edit videos or animate scenes, learning valuable teamwork and communication skills. My favorite part is that not all students will be the stars of the show, and there are roles behind the scenes! These roles in creative video production may include Director, Script Writer, and even Props and Equipment Manager. Throughout the whole video production process, students are forced to communicate verbally and even non-verbally. This truly brings out their strengths so everyone can find their place in the production. I love to swoop into a group that may be arguing or struggling to take turns, and I can teach SEL like “I statements” on the fly! Filming is only a small part of the whole process, so the teachable moments for video production as well as SEL are endless! We even create videos on all the SEL skills we learn such as “Put Your Brakes on that Negative Self Talk!”! This collaborative approach aligns seamlessly with social-emotional learning goals, fostering a sense of community and shared achievement.

5. Personalized Learning in Motion:

The trifecta of green screens, video production, and stop-motion animation caters to diverse learning styles, allowing for personalized educational experiences. Teachers can tailor content to match individual interests, making lessons more engaging and relevant. This personalized approach supports social-emotional learning by recognizing and celebrating each student’s unique strengths and passions. I have also witnessed pure JOY from each student when they can celebrate their strengths within a project, whether they are in front of the camera or behind it! Since introducing green screen technology and creative video media in my classroom, I have had more laughs with my students than ever before. The emotion and vibration of JOY are powerful in any classroom!  We have also used our Mindfulness techniques we have learned in class to create media to help others.  This has been my most powerful lesson plan in 33 years of teaching.   Here is an example of a breathing technique “glitter jar” that actually works for them personally as well as a personalized breathing bubble from a series #MyBreathingBubble is all created by students.   We also LOVE to share the practice of KINDness in so many creative ways using our green screen. We even visit assisted livings to bring this JOY to the elderly and cover up the wheelchairs and walkers using green screen magic which provides these families with a wonderful memory, even trying out extreme sports!   The impact these can have on others and creative possibilities are endless and so inspiring for you and your students of any age!


As classrooms evolve into multimedia learning spaces, the uniting of green screens, video production, and stop-motion animation emerges as a powerful catalyst for education. Beyond textbooks and lectures, students actively participate in the learning process, creating content that not only deepens their understanding but also hones their creativity, communication, and collaboration skills. They are also naturally learning SEL skills galore as well while having a ton of FUN! Truth be told, the JOY I experience as an educator is immeasurable as well, and it keeps me in touch with students and celebrates my youthful spirit! By seamlessly integrating these technologies, educators can transform classrooms into vibrant hubs of learning, where lights, cameras, and action pave the way for a brighter, more engaging educational future!

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