Students have analyzed the Ballad of Mulan by Song Nan Zhang from story elements to character traits and feelings to theme. During beginning talks about the story, students often brought in details from the movie, Mulan. I had to remind them several times that they are two different forms of media told in different ways and they should focus solely on the details given in the book when responding. Our unit is almost to an end, so I thought it would be fun to have students watch the movie and compare and contrast the two. This would prepare them to compare and contrast stories later in the year.
I told students they were going to watch the movie, Mulan, and compare and contrast it with the story in the book. They asked if I was really going to allow them to watch a movie. I answered in the affirmative and this garnered cheers all around. I gave each student a Venn diagram to record their responses. They didn't mind that watching the movie would require some written work. I placed my Venn diagram on the document camera for all students to see. I explained that Venn diagrams are used to show similarities and differences between two items. Similar details are written in the middle section and differences are written in the outer sections of the circles. I told them important questions to ask themselves were, “What is the same about the characters, setting, problem and solution in the movie and the book?” and “What is different about the characters, setting, problem and solution?” I demonstrated writing the title on each side of the diagram and had them do the same. Next, I explained the assessment rubric, which had been copied onto the other side. Then, I started the movie.
Twenty minutes into the movie, I pressed pause. After the groans died down, I displayed my Venn diagram on the document camera. I asked students which details were the same in the movie and the book. I wrote their responses in the middle section of the Venn diagram. Students did the same on their own Venns. Next we discussed the differences and wrote them on the respective section. Students gave me a thumbs up when they were done writing. When I saw all thumbs, I restarted the movie.
I stopped the movie every twenty minutes to give students time to think about what they had seen and fill in their diagrams. There were no more groans during pauses and students were excited to talk about the similarities and differences in the characters.
I used the rubric to assess student work. Since this was their first time comparing and contrasting, they were expected to write at least six comparison and contrasting examples. They were given the rubric so they knew the expectations in advance.
Alternate assessment: Students can design a cover for the book and poster for the movie. They include details that show similarities and differences between the two.
Hot Potato: To close the activity students shared out the most noticeable difference between the movie and the book. I started the activity by holding a tendril ball and saying what stood out most for me. I tossed the ball to a random student signally it was their turn to share. Students randomly tossed the ball and shared out until all had had a turn.