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Freedom Writers Movie Lesson Plan


  • This resource is a downloadable PDF
  • Ideal for Grades 8-12
  • Perfect for ELA, Sociology, Character Education, or Leadership classes
  • Aligned to Common Core State Standards
  • Activities designed to help students meet Social & Emotional Learning Competencies

Freedom Writers Movie Lesson Plan helps teachers use the inspiring true story of Erin Gruwell and her students to show that each of us can write our own story to rise above our obstacles and circumstances.

After completing Freedom Writers Movie Lesson Plan, students will gain knowledge and clarity in growing character skills, overcoming obstacles, and leading by serving.

Erin Gruwell took a position teaching English at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California with the belief that she could make a difference in the lives of at-risk teenagers. She was stunned when she discovered that not only did the kids not want to improve their lives, but her fellow teachers didn’t think the kids were even teachable.

Gruwell stumbled upon a way to connect with her students by having them write in a journal about their lives. She used the diary of Anne Frank to help them see the bigger picture of why their stories made a difference. And she refused to let them fail when society told them their education wasn’t worth it.

Freedom Writers Movie Lesson Plan teaches us that we all have the ability to reach our full potential by transforming our perspective. In addition, each of our lives is a story which can make a difference so we need to make sure we are writing a story that makes a positive impact.

In order to complete these activities, students will need to watch the movie Freedom Writers, which has a rating of PG-13 (violence, language) and a run time of 2 hours and 3 minutes.


Each of our Leadership at the Movies lesson plans includes the following activities:

✅ Reflection: allows students to journal about one of the movie’s themes prior to watching.

✅ Analysis: questions and prompts to analyze the characters, plot, and climax of the movie.

✅ Practice & Discussion: a partner/group activity that takes the principles of the movie and asks students to take action and grow in their own lives.

✅ Extension: a RAFT (Role-Audience-Format-Topic) writing prompt to help students apply their new knowledge.

✅ Lead for Impact: challenges students to pinpoint how the hero of the story exhibited The 12 Fundamentals of Impact and then synthesize how they can apply the lessons to writing their own story.


WARNING: This is a DEEP LEARNING lesson plan to help students employ a LEADERSHIP approach to SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL LEARNING.

These activities are designed to help students meet the following Social & Emotional Learning Competencies as outlined by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL):

⭐ Develop SELF-AWARENESS and SELF-MANAGEMENT skills to achieve school and life success.

⭐ Use SOCIAL-AWARENESS and interpersonal skills to establish and maintain POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS.

⭐ Demonstrate DECISION-MAKING skills and responsible behaviors in personal, school, and community contexts.


The activities in Freedom Writers Movie Lesson Plan will challenge students to move closer to mastery in the following skills: leadership, cooperation with others, creativity, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, problem solving, and judgment and decision making.

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Leadership at the Movies Bundle

With school-wide access to lesson plans and teaching resources for over 75 movies, you can help your students strive to reach their full potential!