[Erin Gruwell] õ The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them [amateur-sleuth PDF] Read Online õ Unfortunately, I did not love the book I wanted to, being a teacher who hopes she makes a difference, even in some small way, in the lives of her students Particularly since it was a true story, it had all the potential of a classic tearjerker where this sap is concerned, and yet, it fell flat.
First of all, they edited it so much that it felt fake I think I would have much preferred to see the diary entries as photocopies in the students own handwriting It would have added a level of authenticity that was sorely lacking.
The other major problem with it was that I felt there were things missing If, in a regular school, in a safer environment, students are ridiculed for focusing on their studies, I can only imagine what the Freedom Writers were going through with all of the challenges that their lives presented for them I would have liked to have seenof a rounded picture,balance between yay, us and what was going on outside their academic utopia.
I think I would have liked this better if it had been fiction, to allow me to suspend my disbelief I felt, being a true story, it should have felt muchreal than it did We didn t get to see the whole picture.
Maybe I would have liked it better if I d only seen the movie, when I could have said, Well, they only had so many minutes they couldn t show everything Ironic, given that the whole book is about the power of the written word.
I was pretty disappointed by this book from the get go Diaries and journals are interesting because you are able to experience someone else s life in real time Part of that experience is being immersed in the language, personality, and emotion of the author The students idolize Anne Frank and Zlata, but don t allow any of their own voices into their writing Each entry sounds just like the next with only occasional sentences that feel real and un edited.
Good writers capture the energy of their experience, and these students have seen too much to be as bland as these examples portray The few poems recited although not great at least convey some emotion It s a shame since some of these stories are extremely powerful issues such as homelessness, child abuse, domestic violence, street violence, peer pressure all expressed in cookie cutter language that could all be written by the same person.
I expected to see a realistic progression in the journal entries I wanted to see improvement as these students grew as writers and people I appreciate a variety of perspectives, but I think the book suffered from not having a consistent batch of identifiable characters that progressed over the course of four years Anonymous entries further their cause, but detract from the impact and make it harder to own the characters as you read.
The book certainly got better as I read The students certainly had some amazing opportunities, and I was proud to see them develop as people as the book progressed Perhaps as they got better as writers over the years the later entries were less heavily edited and retainedflavor.
I really wish there had beeninformation about how the book was compiled and edited Certainly she couldn t have gotten these students to write the long winded and introspective entries at the beginning of her first semester Without that information many of these entries feel so forced and unbelieveable that I found it difficult to read them at all Even an afterword explaining that the pieces were elaborated on and edited before the published final draft would be helpful I can understand the students wanting to showcase their best work, but I d like to seeinformation about the process.
From an education perspective I felt like I wasn t getting the whole story about Ms Grunell and her resources It s wonderful that she had the support that she did, but it is so glazed over that it seems like it should be within any teacher s grasp That doesn t seem quite fair to many of the amazing teachers that struggle just to keep their head afloat I know that she has another book that isfocused on her methods, and maybe that hasof what I was looking for.
True, this collective diary depicts racism quite poignantly, but what touched me deeply is this how the teens use writing to come out of the confinement of racism and resurrect their self esteem A powerful, captivating narrative.
The only reason I picked up this book was because it happened to be lying around the house, and I needed something to read I d heard of the movie with Hillary Swank and intended and still do to stay away from it as I believed it was another Gangsta s Paradise cliche white teacher, colored students, they all dance and learn When I picked up the book, I thought it would provide a few anecdotes of interest before I returned it to its pile on the floor where it would disappear under weightier matters.
Three hours later, past midnight nearing 1 a.
, I finished the diary.
As proclaimed by the authors, the diary is a continuation of the message and work carried on by other famous diarists Anne Frank and Zlata Filipovic, in particular Each entry is numbered to anonymize the individual author and universalize the collective experience of the students Chapters are school semesters, and what was amazing to me was that the diary was a story It followed the students journey from being underdog academics to accepting awards in NY, teaching graduate classes and going off to college What was also interesting was how the later entries started to reflect what the students had learned There were references to Dylan Thomas, Holden Caulfield and, of course, Anne and Zlata all made as nonchalantly as a gangster sign It s also amazing to see how the teacher Erin Gruwell got caught up in the momentum of her class s enthusiasm For instance, a generic letter assignment to write a letter to Zlata turned into the class s full fledged attempt to invite the Bosnian diarist to come visit them in Long Beach and it works In Gruwell s process to find Zlata and not fail her students, she befriends Holocaust survivors like Miep Gies, the woman who helped hide Anne Frank, as well as Zlata and her family and other important figures of tolerance.
The movie I expect is preachy, but the book is not at all The Freedom Writers tell it as it is and never tack a moral on the end It is, instead, their attempt to prove the written word haspower over a gun in hand, and in my case, I am a believer in that cliche 100%.
I work in an inner city school This doesn t quite touch on the way inner city schools really are For instance, all the kids writing is in standard English My kids, when expressing how they really feel, use what I call Urban English I just couldn t hear my kids in this book I related a bit to the teacher s writing But there are a lot of realities that were not portrayed in this book For instance, the teacher had her own room the same room for the 4 years she taught The reality of my urban setting is quite different I have taught in about 15 different classrooms in the 3 years I ve been teaching Usually, in the urban schools I know, teachers move from room to room each period This deeply impacts our instruction I also hated the way the union was portrayed as protecting the seniority of teachers over the best interests of the kids Unions in schools is a very complex situation, and, as a union activist, I feel compelled to point this out My union has done things like ensure that I get a bathroom break, books in my classroom, and paper for the copy machine.
Freedom Writers by Erin Gruwell is one of the most interesting books I ve ever read.
It is about how one teacher Erin Gruwell makes it her goal to change the way students in her class view the world.
The students in her class view the world as one big war zone and have their own goal which is to be able to survive the streets without being killed.
Gruwell takes it up on herself to show the kids the theirsto life then gang violence trying to do so she risks losing her job and husband.
She does alot for these kids she get two extra jobs jus so she can take her students on feild trips to see life changing people,and to fancy resturants to show the kids that theres isto life them the grimy streets they live on.
Through out the story you see how the kids treat her sometimes wih no respect because they think that she ll do the same ting everyone else in their life has done which is lie to them.
But you ll see that by not giving up on the students like they ve already done on them selves you see how they grow on each other and become one big family and start to become cool friends with people outside of their race.
The Freedom Writers Diary is an amazing, moving, and inspirational piece of art It consists of a collection of diary entries written by the 150 Freedom Writers and their English teacher, Ms Gurwell All of these Freedom Writers are students at Wilson High School in Long Beach California, where they have been placed in a below average English class with Ms Gurwell as their teacher This is Ms.
Gurwell s first teaching experience, and it will have a lasting impact on her One of the first assignments she gives is for everyone to keep a journal, no one knew just how powerful these journals were to become, not even Ms Gurwell Through out these entries you will learn about the hard lives of these incredible individuals, their amazing English teacher, and their journeys towards changing the world and becoming a second family When you thick of Long Beach the things that come to your mind are probably beautiful beaches, expensive boutiques, and magnificent mansions However for the Freedom Writes they saw something much different They saw a hostel environment filled with corruption, hate, and discrimination There were multiple gangs, each of different races, causing riots in the streets It was dangerous for some of these student to just walk home from the bus stop, let alone go out at night Many of these students lost their innocence at a very young age, never having the opportunity to be a kid In their journal entries they describe to you first hand the horrors they faced including gang violence, shootings, the murder loss of loved ones and friends, the effects of drugs and alcohol, abusive relationships, molesters, and rapes They felt as though they were at a dead end with no way to turn around, until they met Ms Gurwell She couldn t believe the way they viewed their life and refused to accept it In an attempt to change the way they though about themselves and each other, she decided to change her lesson plan to studying the Holocaust, hoping to teach them about tolerance Ms Gurwell provided everyone in the class with a copy of Anne Frank The Diary of a Young Girl to jump start into her lesson of tolerance At first the students were reluctant to learn, but eventually started to read the book They were shocked by how well they could relate to Anne They said they too felt as if they were living trough a war but an undeclared war Many of the students wanted to continue learning about the Holocaust and even wrote letters to Meip the woman who protected Anne and her family during the war , who would later become a close friend of theirs Ms Gurwell was shocked by their response and continued on, having them read Zlata s Diary A Child s Life in Sarajevo The students connected once again with the author of this incredible true story, so Ms Gurwell had them also write letters to Zlata, who had survived her war She challenged them in their letters to invite Zlata to Wilson, and the unthinkable happened She came Ms Gurwell went on to have her core group of students for all four years they were at Wilson, and continued to receivekids as the years went on Everyone wanted to be in her class because it was the one place people said they felt wanted, needed, and safe They would become a family, and together have a lasting impact on the world around them As their final project Ms Gurwell had them compile their journals, which they had been keeping for four year, into a book of their own She would even get 35 computers donated to them from John Tu, to help aid them in their process While writing this book they would officially gain their name The Freedom Writers based off of The Freedom Riders, who were a group of American and African American student who rode on a bus through the South to protest against discrimination Their book would also lead them into incredible journeys such as a trip to Washington DC, where they hand delivered their book to the secretary of education Riley, and going to New York City to accept the spirit of Anne Frank award It was the first time this award was given to a group of people and not an individual The Freedom Writers had done the impossible, they had gone from a group of kids in a below average English class to published author, advocates for change, and people who believed in their bright future ahead of them This book is by far one of the best books I have ever read It truly opens up your eyes to the world around you, grabbing your attention and refusing to let go I, even someone 16 years younger then the average student in this book, was able to easily relate to their stories It was also genuinely inspirational I always knew I wanted to change the world, but now after reading about the Freedom Writers I know I can I also was inspired by Ms Gurwell, I though I wanted to become a teacher but now regardless of where I end up in life I know I want to do something involving the empowerment of the youth, because they are the future of tomorrow.
An interesting but ultimately unrealistic story of a high school teacher in an urban school in CA who does amazing things with her students The unrealistic parts first, the students write diary entries what I missed immediately were student s voices With one or two exceptions, they could have all been written by the same student the stories were different of course fresh, sad, poignant, brutally honest dealing with everything from molestation to drugs to violence but the sentence structure and diction had all been sanitized by too much editing I would have preferred to see their original writing Teaching voice is difficult but it can happen Each student s voice, like a fingerprint, is extremely unique, represented by punctuation marks, word choice, sentence variety In addition, some of the entries become redundant.
I ve been teaching for 25 years now and been involved with three different schools union Happily, none of my unions were anything like Gruwell s There is also not a lot about how she originally caught students classroom management is not discussed but extremely important, so if you are a novice teacher looking for ideas, I suggest Teach Like a Champion instead Finally, Gruwell left teaching after about four years If you want to stay in teaching for the long run, there has to be clear boundaries between school and personal life to stay balanced and healthy Gruwell did not have that and I wonder if that is one of the reasons she left teaching.
I would love to hear other people s opinions on this Did anyone else have this problem NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTUREStraight From The Front Line Of Urban America, The Inspiring Story Of One Fiercely Determined Teacher And Her Remarkable StudentsAs An Idealistic Twenty Three Year Old English Teacher At Wilson High School In Long Beach, California, Erin Gruwell Confronted A Room Of Unteachable, At Risk Students One Day She Intercepted A Note With An Ugly Racial Caricature, And Angrily Declared That This Was Precisely The Sort Of Thing That Led To The Holocaust Only To Be Met By Uncomprehending Looks So She And Her Students, Using The Treasured books Anne Frank The Diary Of A Young Girl And Zlata S Diary A Child S Life In Sarajevo As Their Guides, Undertook A Life Changing, Eye Opening, Spirit Raising Odyssey Against Intolerance And Misunderstanding They Learned To See The Parallels In These books To Their Own Lives, Recording Their Thoughts And Feelings In Diaries And Dubbing Themselves The Freedom Writers In Homage To The Civil Rights Activists The Freedom Riders With Funds Raised By A read A Thon For Tolerance, They Arranged For Miep Gies, The Courageous Dutch Woman Who Sheltered The Frank Family, To Visit Them In California, Where She Declared That Erin Gruwell S Students Were The Real Heroes Their Efforts Have Paid Off Spectacularly, Both In Terms Of Recognition Appearances On Prime Time Live And All Things Considered, Coverage In People Magazine, A Meeting With US Secretary Of Education Richard Riley And Educationally AllFreedom Writers Have Graduated From High School And Are Now Attending CollegeWith Powerful Entries From The Students Own Diaries And A Narrative Text By Erin Gruwell, The Freedom Writers Diary Is An Uplifting, Unforgettable Example Of How Hard Work, Courage, And The Spirit Of Determination Changed The Lives Of A Teacher And Her Students The Authors Proceeds From This Book Will Be Donated To The Tolerance Education Foundation, An Organization Set Up To Pay For The Freedom Writers College Tuition Erin Gruwell Is Now A Visiting Professor At California State University, Long Beach, Where Some Of Her Students Are Freedom Writers