Summary, Reaction, and Analysis Paper #1: The Freedom Writers Diary The Freedom Writers Diary is based on a true story that takes place at Wilson High School in Long Beach, California. Wilson High School was always known for being an upper class white school but that soon changed. Students began to be bussed in which created a more diverse school. Erin Gruwell experienced this first hand when she was offered her first teaching job at Wilson in 1994. Ms. Gruwell was not given just any teaching job, she had been asked to work with the at-risk students. Every other teacher and the administrative board looked down on these students. Ms. Gruwell knew she had to be the one to view them differently and give them a chance from the beginning. This proves to be difficult within the first weeks of school. The students quickly show Ms. Gruwell they are not interested in school or what she had to say. About a month into school was when the students really started to change as individuals. This happened after Ms. Gruwell caught a note going around the room that had a drawing of one of the students named Sharaud. The picture had an African American male with huge lips. Ms. Gruwell used this negative situation as a learning opportunity. She compared the drawing to Jews during the Holocaust. She gained the students’ attention immediately and knew this would be her new way of teaching. Her new goal was to create learning through books, guest speakers, and field trips. Ms. Gruwell knew she had made progress, but there was a long journey ahead still. After struggling with the school about getting new books she decided to go find her own. Ms. Gruwell introduced several books that students would be able to relate to. Some of the books were: Twelve Angry Men , Night by Elie Wiesel, The Wave by Todd Strasser, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl , and Zlata’s Diary . Many of the students did not believe they would be able to relate to the books, but then quickly learned other wise. Mrs. Gruwell had each student
When Erin Gruwell was assigned a class full of students who were labeled "at risk," she had no idea the challenges she would face. Many would have balked at what seemed like an insurmountable, Sisyphean task. On their website, the Freedom Writers explain that "on our first day of school, we had only three things in common: we hated school, we hated our teacher, and we hated each other."
A novice teacher with big ideas and an even bigger heart, Gruwell refused to allow her students' lives to become self-fulfilling prophecies. By holding them to high standards and presenting them with countless opportunities, Gruwell gave these students a chance to overcome the limitations imposed on them by society. Gruwell encouraged her students to "do something different, something memorable, something powerful and humane."
In response to the overwhelming popularity and success of The Freedom Writers Diary, Erin Gruwell established the Freedom Writers Foundation which "promotes acceptance and innovative teaching methods in classrooms around the country." Proceeds from the sale ofThe Freedom Writers Diary go to the Tolerance Education Foundation, which was established to pay for the Freedom Writers' college tuition.
Today, teachers and students around the globe can bring the original Freedom Writers into their classrooms via an online video chat. Erin Gruwell now serves as the president of the Freedom Writers Foundation. Her work has been featured on The View, Good Morning America, Book TV, and Oprah. Currently, there are 32 Freedom Writer Teachers implementing the Freedom Writer Method across the country.The core of this approach is not only recognizing but celebrating diversity in the classroom.
Erin Gruwell has also authored The Freedom Writers Diary Teacher's Guide, Teach With Your Heart: Lessons I Learned From the Freedom Writers, and Teaching Hope: Stories From the Freedom Writer Teachers and Erin Gruwell.
The Freedom Writers Diary was made into a major motion picture in 2007 starring Academy Award winner Hilary Swank and Patrick Dempsey.