Freedom Writers Diary


"Change starts with one voice...yours."       Fresh-faced and idealistic twenty-three-year-old Erin Gruwell is ready to take on the world as she steps inside Wilson High School for her first day of teaching. Her class, a diverse group of racially charged teenagers from different walks of life--African Americans, Latinos, Asians, juvenile delinquents, gang members, and underprivileged students from poor neighborhoods--hope for nothing more than to make it through the day. On the surface, the only thing they share is their hatred for each other and the understanding that they are simply being warehoused in the educational system until they are old enough to disappear. Despite her students' obstinate refusal to participate during class, Erin tries various means to engage them on a daily basis. But then ghetto reality steps in to focus the picture. A racially motivated gang shooting witnessed by a Latina gang member in Erin's class, and an ugly racial cartoon that Erin intercepts during class, become the most unwittingly dynamic teaching aids. They spark a transformation in the classroom, compel them to listen and force her to take off her idealistic blinders and take in the kids' survival stories of their undeclared war on the streets. Erin begins to connect with them. She brings in music from the 'Hood, and literature from another kind of ghetto, The Diary of Anne Frank, and with these simple tools she opens her students' eyes to the experiences of those suffering intolerance throughout the world and the struggles of those outside their own communities. Knowing that every one of her students has a story to tell, Erin encourages them to keep a daily journal of their thoughts and experiences. After sharing their stories with one another, the students see their shared experience for the first time and open up to the idea that there are possibilities in life outside of making it to the age of eighteen.     The Freedom Writers Diary is a very inspirational film and diary that proves that students like yourselves can make a difference in the world. The amazing part of the story is that it is true! Much of their story could not fit into the two-hour film, so this webquest will help to "fill in the gaps" of the Freedom Writers and how they made change with unified voices. After researching a few aspects of their story, you will contribute YOUR voice for change through a more personal reflection of the film. Remember, change starts with one voice. Make that voice yours.


The Freedom Writers Diary is based on the true story of Ms. G and the students of Room 203, but where did they actually get the inspiration to publish their stories and what were their lives really like?

    Your task is to create a book jacket for a new non-fiction novel about the Freedom Writers and their effect on today's youth. You are to include three parts: a cover with title and artwork, an abstract with a general overview of the historical inspiration of the Freedom Writers and an introduction to one of its founders, and finally a foreword written by you, a student who was inspired by their story. The objective of this webquest is to help find a personal connection with the Freedom Writers by researching and writing about their inspirations. The lesson uses a book jacket for writing their personal reflections of The Freedom Writers Diary. 


This is an individual assignment. Follow the steps below in order to create a book jacket for your Freedom Writers novel.


TASK 1Write an short summary for the back of your book jacket. The short summary of the novel located on the back of a book will have two parts: a short overview of one of the inspirations of the Freedom Writers and an introduction to one of the Freedom Writer featured in the novel.

 1. Choose one of the following inspirations of the Freedom Writers for your abstract. Use other websites for information and images for your abstract. If you use direct quotes, summarization, or paraphrasing, you must cite the source.

    • Freedom Riders
      • Anne Frank
        • Miep Gies

        TASK 2Write a foreword for the novel using your own reactions to the film as a foundation. The foreword should be on the inside of your book jacket. The following should be included in your foreword (or introduction to the novel).

        1. Find a quotation that incorporates the theme of positive change to introduce the purpose of the Freedom Writers. 

        2. Answer the following: How is your inspiration similar to those of the Freedom Writers? How have they influenced you to become a better you? 

        3. Dedicate the novel to a person or group. Explain why you have chosen this person or group in relation to the novel.

        4. End with your own "Toast for Change," describing what you hope to achieve before (or after) graduation in light of watching The Freedom Writers Diary.

        TASK 3Design the cover for the book jacket. The cover should include the following:

         1. A new title

         2. Some sort of image or artwork that relates to the title

         3. Your name (as the author of the foreword)


        1 2 3 4
        Assignment Completion Most or all parts of the book jacket are missing or not adequately finished. Most of the book jacket is not adequately finished. Some of the book jacket is not adequately finished. The entire book jacket is finished.
        Organization Book jacket is not organized in a coherent fashion and is difficult to understand. Most of book jacket is not organized and most parts are difficult to understand. Some of the book jacket is not organized and some parts are difficult to understand. The book jacket is organized very well and is very easy to understand.
        Spelling and Grammar More than 7 spelling and grammar errors 5-7 spelling and grammar errors 3-5 spelling and grammar errors Less than 3 spelling and grammar errors
        Effort  Book jacket shows no effort in writing or creativity. Student chose not to use time in class to work on assignment. Book jacket shows little effort in writing or creativity. Student spent little class time working on assignment. Book jacket shows effort in writing or creativity. Student spent most class time working on assignment. Book jacket shows much effort in both writing and creativity. Student spent all class time working on assignment.

        "The only obstacles are the ones that you allow. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. A truly self-reliant person finds his weak link and strengthens it."-The Freedom Writers Diary 57 Congratulations! You have complete the Webquest, and now have gained a better understanding of The Freedom Writers Diary. Also, by reading and watching the film, you have developed a deeper understanding of what life is like outside of our comforting world. I know that many of you really enjoyed the film, and I hope that this webquest has reinforced the ideals found in the stories of the Freedom Writers.