Monday, May 29, 2017

Family Movie Going – Sharing More Than Popcorn:

How laptops and SMART Phones can connect and concretize family movie experiences into rich digital literacy research, investigation, and responses

By Dr. Rose Reissman

As the official school year draws to a close, many families will mark the onset of summer and its break from the yearlong school routine with a family outing to the local movieplex.  Nothing compares to that scented with buttered popcorn, crowded movie theater family experience.  But that experience can easily deliver more than just solid family fun.  Traditional 20th century movie bonding experiences for families can also serve as a joyous launch for a shared, digital 21st century ongoing learning investigation.


I)                   BEFORE VIEWING: 

Charge up your laptop or other connected device (tablet, SMART Phone, etc.) and pre-view a movie of interest, perhaps reviewing its online trailer or cast interviews. Keep a record of your reactions and reflections as text or audio files. This could be done at home, or over breakfast out, or on the way to the theater. (See Tech Tips section at the bottom)

Consider addressing the following issues: Why, as a family, are you selecting a particular movie to view and what you most anticipate seeing in that movie, whether it is a specific actor’s performance, special effects, or the film version of a book familiar to you?  If the movie is part of an ongoing series, have all of you seen the previous installments and what was your reaction to them?
What, if anything, influenced your decision to see the particular film you’ve selected? Was it word of mouth from friends or relatives or reviews or a controversy over the film in the news?

II)                AT THE MOVIES: 

As you watch the film, share (in whispers, of course)  and use the available film lighting to jot down notes on surprises, disappointments, and elements of the movie that make each of  you really like the movie - or really feel your money was wasted - or feel it was just a good chance to bond together.

Jot down notes as you leave, characterizing the audience’s reaction or an effect or character from the film.  Chat up other audience members to get their reaction as you wait for popcorn or on the bathroom line or exit the theater. If given permission, record what they say for an audio file to upload later.

III)             After the movies:

Upload your comments as an audio file or a video and share them with family, friends and others through your laptop network or through school network.  React to their comments.

Use Google to search out reviews for the film you just saw as a family.  After reading each one, work together as a family - or individually - or in pairs to react to the reviews.

Family members can author their own review and email it to the reviewer or post it on the site as a comment (many have “Comments” functions at the foot of the review.  Or, if responding to a print review, send it to the editor of the magazine (such as Or they can upload a conversation about the film in the style of television show movie reviews as an audio or a video file on their own family blog. 

Many families who submit a response get a personal reply, which validates their viewer response. A little online searching will turn up opportunities for this. USA Today, however, is one good example (go to - scroll to the bottom for post a comment and email response options.)

Moving beyond the movie to online research, investigation, and response:
Take the example of the new "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" – The film was based on a Marvel Comics Superhero, which can be researched

Comparisons made between the actors and sets and the pen and ink drawings of the comic book. Families can create slides with the original public domain artwork and the set scenes and then narrate a comparison between the screen rendering and the print version of the comic heroes.

This film is a sequel. So you might want to compare, answering the questions “In what ways does it answer or develop the themes and music and characters presented in the first film?  Are the plotlines from the print comics or developed by 21st century screen writers?”

The film is heavy with references to 1980’s and 1990’s television shows such as Cheers and actor David Hasselhoff, familiar to today’s parents, but not familiar to their kids.  However, together parents and kids they can research these shows via YouTube and other easily accessible online repositories of such artifacts and review footage of these television shows to understand references to them by Peter (a character in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie) which otherwise would  be lost to the kids.   

Further, the film shows Peter and the other Guardians engaged in using walkmans and deejaying hits from the 20th century pop music catalogue.  Thus, there are more rich veins of cultural artifact to mine on the web, giving today’s kids the opportunity to make important discoveries alongside parents, as they listen online to the songs and research their cultural context. 

In fact, they can create their own playlists of period music (synched with the period setting of the movie) by simply copying and pasting YouTube video links. Even better, they can give their own commentary about the music alongside the titles and links of the song videos they save on a simple word processing document.
In the case of Guardians of the Galaxy 2, it is obvious that a third chapter will be coming up in the series.  Families can predict the plot and direction of that next film in the ongoing series and suggesting actors and new characters for it.

Some family members might read the initial Marvel Comics Guardians series and use that as a text for predicting and suggesting the next movie iteration for this series.  Originals of these are limited in availability and expensive now, but some public libraries will have them (check out this site for correct publisher’s titles and publication information: ).

Older family members will compare Guardians, a laugh filled, music video style film with the original Star Wars and Spiderman and Batman films.  They can argue for the extent to which this series ranks among the best of the Superhero films or the worst, or in between.  Kids can argue about how it compares and contrasts and ranks with the first Guardians film. 

Nothing beats digging into a large tub of buttery movie popcorn in a crowded movie auditorium as the lights go down and the movie starts  using the multi-featured chromebook platform can extend this traditional experience, to make it a rich the literacy learning one, as well as family quality time.

So after the popcorn is gone and the family returns home, the movie digital bonding and conversational movie talk can and will go on and on,  depend in on your Chromebook for ongoing admission to movie inspired family talk, sites, word docs, audio file and more!! 
EASY TECH TIPS: How To share your reflections and reviews online
(Recommendations by Mark Gura)

*How to upload your text copy to the web
Probably the easiest and most effective way to do this would be to start a blog. A great place to begin would be with Google’s BLOGGER blogging resource, which is free.  One can create a professional looking blog very easily with BLOGGER in a matter of 2 or 3 minutes. A simple registration process and a series of choices to be made are required (e.g. what web address for the blog do you want to create? - which look and feel do you want? etc.). After setting up the blog, one can write a post in a word processing program and then copy and paste e that into the blog post space, hit “Publish” and instantly, one’s text is online. One can copy the URL (web address) of the blog and post and email it to others easily. Another wonderful thing about a simple blog like this is that not only will one’s post have text (and the size, style, color, font, etc. of the text can be tweaked to suit the blogger), but photos, and links (or ‘players’) to videos or audio recordings can be embedded in the text very easily. There is a bit of a learning curve in using BLOGGER and similar blogging resources, but one can create a blog and upload a simple post within just a few minutes!
-          Start a Blog on Blogger:
-          How to Create a Blogger Blog Step by Step Tutorial - Blogger Beginners! Tutorial 2014:
-          How to use Blogger - You can post info and stories with Blogger:

*How to Record Your Voice and Have It Online for Others to Hear
If you Google a search prompt like “Record Voice Online” you’ll find numerous, generally FREE, resources that will allow you to speak directly into your SMART Phone or laptop (most modern laptops have a microphone and video camera built in and ready to go). One such resource is   Speak Pipe

“ SpeakPipe voice recorder allows you to create an audio recording directly from a browser by using your microphone. The recording is produced locally on your computer, and you can record as many times as you need. There is the option to save your recording on the SpeakPipe server and get a link to it, so you can send it via email or use on the web.” Works on iPhone, iPad, iPod, and Android devices.

Another popular option is Vocaroo, which is also FREE and doesn’t even require a registration…

Audio resources like the ones mentioned above will give you a link to the recording (which resides online) that can be inserted into a blog post, so that both text and audio can be shared online easily!

- How to Record Audio With Your Mobile Device:

- 5 Great Tips For Recording Audio With Any Smartphone Or Tablet:

- Record Great Audio with your Smartphone:  

More family movies to enjoy way after the popcorn is consumed and the movie theater lights are turned up:
Movies such as Beauty and the Beast (2017) lend themselves beautifully to comparison with previous animation and theater as well as print versions.

Boss Baby (2016) a highly successful cartoon feature is based on a little know board book of the same name by Maria Frazee  published in 2010  and can be compared to the print work.

Everything, Everything (2017) was a bestselling work by Nicola Yoon before it became a film.

Hidden Figures focuses on a short portion of the Margot Lee Shetterly nonfiction best seller.


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