I’ve never known any trouble
that an hour’s reading didn’t assuage.
--Charles De Secondat (1689 - 1755)

The Book vs. The Movie

After reading one of my childhood favorites, Stuart Little, to my first grade students, I showed them the 1999 feature movie adaptation. We watched about 25 minutes every day and discussed the similarities and differences at the end of each viewing. To organize our ideas and observations, I used FreeMind, an Open Source program that helps you create a mind map quickly and easily. Have you ever made a "word web" on the board while you and your students are brainstorming? Well, that's what a mind map is.

I projected my computer screen on the whiteboard while students generated ideas. As the students called out their observations, I could quickly type them where they "fit" in the mind map. I could ask them where their idea would fit and start typing there, but sometimes I would type it in the wrong place and then drag-and-drop it easily to where it actually belonged. The students were very engaged and really seemed to understand the idea of similarities and differences. By keeping the lists for the book and the movie on the left side and the list of "both" on the right, they were able to see that the movie and book were more different than alike.

This program is great for this type of brainstorming activity. It's easier and neater than writing on the board. Once you understand the basics of how to use it, you can quickly move around and add new "nodes" or branches. Nodes can be collapsed to make room for more ideas. Icons can be applied to nodes, arrows can be inserted to connect two separate nodes, and data can be copied or exported super-easily.

I have only ever used this program as the teacher leading a whole-class discussion. It is a really easy program to use and I'm sorry I was not able to allow my students to use it on their own. This would be a great tool to organize note cards and generate a rough draft or outline for a research report. Or have them utilize their critical thinking skills to make a mind map of superheroes or Pokemon characters.

Fast, flexible, and best of all, free! Get this program and use it to keep track of things like what you know about the television program "Lost" (example only includes information through season 2).

BTW, my kids liked the movie better because it was funnier.

(Last modified:02/16/2009)


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