Freedom Writers Movie Project

Freedom Writers Movie Project
By: Maria Connors
EDUC 501
Saint Joseph College
A Look at the Movie
What do you think this movie
is about?
The Story
• Erin Gruwell is the inspirational teacher working at
Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California.
• She works with inner-city and at-risk students, who all
live pretty tough lives (e.g. gangs, family abuse, etc.).
• In the classroom, the students hate each other because
of race.
• Erin Gruwell helps the students find themselves (i.e.
their identity), work to their best potential, and realize
that they are all similar.
• However, Erin’s battle isn’t just with the students, but it
is also with the school too.
What is Your Impression?
Eva: “In America, a girl can be crowned a princess for
her beauty and her grace. But an Aztec princess is
chosen for her blood…to fight for her people, as Papi
and his father fought against those who say we are less
than they are, who say we are not equal in beauty and
in blessings. “
Personal Development: “Development, with age, of distinctive behavioral
styles and increasingly complex self-understandings” (Ormrod, 2011, p. 62).
Social Development: “Development, with age, of increasingly sophisticated
understandings of other people and of society as a whole, as well as
increasingly effective interpersonal skills and more internalized standards
for behavior” (Ormrod, 2011, p. 62).
Authoritarian Parenting: “Parenting style characterized by rigid rules and
expectations for behavior that children are asked to obey without question”
(Ormrod, 2011, p. 63).
Child Maltreatment: “Consistent neglect or abuse of a child that jeopardizes
the child’s physical and psychological well-being” (Ormrod, 2011, p. 64).
Socialization: “Process of molding a child’s behavior and beliefs to be
appropriate for his or her cultural group” (Ormrod, 2011, p. 65).
Development (cont.)
Development is represented in the movie by:
• The students in the class were split up based on race.
• The racial tension began from the home environment
(i.e. parents’ beliefs).
• Gang life (e.g. Eva joined a gang – 3rd generation).
• Each student follows his or her’s ethnic groups beliefs
(e.g. “At least when you die for your own, you die with
respect, you die a warrior” ~ Marcus and Eva’s
predicament with the trial).
• Students are abused by their parents (e.g. Sindy’s family,
Gloria’s family, and Brandy’s family).
“When I look out in the world, I don’t see nobody
that looks like me with their pockets full, unless
they’re rapping a lyric or dribbling a ball.” ~ Marcus
Diversity and Ethnicity
Culture: “Behaviors and belief systems of a long-standing
social group” (Ormrod, 2011, p. 104).
Ethnic Group: “People who have common historical
roots, values, beliefs, and behaviors and who share a
sense of interdependence” (Ormrod, 2011, p. 105).
Acculturation: “Gradual process of adopting the values
and customs of a new culture” (Ormrod, 2011, p. 105).
Worldview: “General, culturally based set of assumptions
about reality that influence understandings of a wide
variety of phenomena” (Ormrod, 2011, p. 113).
Diversity and Ethnicity (cont.)
• “Educate yourself about your students’ cultural backgrounds”
(Ormrod, 2011, p. 114).
• “Work hard to break down students’ stereotypes of particular
ethnic groups” (Ormrod, 2011, p. 115).
• “Foster democratic ideals, and empower students to bring about
meaningful change” (Ormrod, 2011, p. 116).
Bridging the gap…
• Discussion about the prejudiced picture that was drawn of Jamal.
• She conducted the line game to bring the students closer by making
them aware of their similarities to each other.
• She read the journals of the students.
• Field trip to the Museum of Tolerance and dinner with Holocaust
• Miep Gies’ visit to their school.
Diversity and Ethnicity (Cont.)
Student at risk: “Student with a high probability of failing
to acquire minimal academic skills necessary for
success in the adult world” (Ormrod, 2011, p. 130).
• “Create a warm, supportive school and classroom
atmosphere” (Ormrod, 2011, p. 132).
• “Encourage and facilitate identification with school”
(Ormrod, 2011, p. 132).
Bridging the gap…
• Journals of students
• Talks with students before, during, and after school
• Field Trip
• “Toast for Change”
• Students’ decision to raise money for Miep Gies to visit
their school (e.g. food festival and dance concert) .
What is Your Impression?
Erin: “We’re each gonna make a toast for
change. And what that means is, from this
moment on every voice that told you “You
can’t” is silenced. Every reason that tells you
things will never change, disappears. And the
person you were before this moment, that
person’s turn is over. Now it’s your turn.”
Motivational Strategies
Resilient student: “Student who succeeds in school
and in life despite exceptional hardships at
home” (Ormrod, 2011, p. 128).
• “Be a dependable source of academic and emotional
support” (Ormrod, 2011, p. 128).
• “Provide opportunities for independent work and decision
making” (Ormrod, 2011, p. 369).
• Hidi & Renninger and McDaniel, Waddill, Finstad, & Bourg (as
cited in Ormrod, 2011) explained that students are especially
motivated and attentive when they are interested in a subject
or concept.
• Need for self-determination: “basic need to believe that one
has some autonomy and control regarding the course of one’s
life” (Ormrod, 2011, p. 368).
Motivational Strategies (Cont.)
Erin’s motivational strategies:
• Talks with students before, during, and after school (e.g. Eva in
trouble with ethnic group after trial and talk with Eva and Marcus
about The Diary of Anne Frank book).
• Students made the decision to raise money for Miep Gies to visit
• Students gave themselves a grade (e.g. Andre’s grade).
• Erin selected books that related to the students (e.g. book about a
boy in a gang).
• Erin used a Tupac song to teach poetry.
• The Freedom Writers Diary (e.g. students type their diaries into one
• “Toast for Change”
What is Your Impression?
Ms. Campbell: “You can’t make someone want
an education. The best you can do is try to get
them to obey, to learn discipline. That would
be a tremendous accomplishment for them.”
Teaching Strategies
Teaching Strategies:
• Discovery Learning: “Approach to instruction in
which students derive their own knowledge
about a topic through firsthand interaction with
the environment” (Ormrod, 2011, p. 430).
• In-Class Assignments: “completing worksheets,
solving problems, writing lab reports, acting out
short stories, and so on” (Ormrod, 2011, p. 432).
• Computer Tool Applications: “word processing,
desktop publishing, databases, and
spreadsheets” (Ormrod, 2011, p. 434).
Teaching Strategies (Cont.)
Examples of Erin’s Teaching Strategies:
• Field trip to the Museum of Tolerance and dinner
with Holocaust survivors.
• Letter to Miep Gies
• Debate
• Movie (e.g. Movie about an interracial civil rights
group and Jim Zwerg)
• The Freedom Writers Diary (e.g. students type
their diaries into one book)
Our Toast for Change
• What can you do to make a change in your
teaching profession (i.e. current or future)?
• DeVito, D. (Producer), & LaGravenese, R.
(Director). (2007). Freedom Writers
[Motion picture]. United States: Paramount
• Ormrod, J.E. (2011). Educational psychology:
Developing learners (7th ed.). Boston:

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