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The Way Back Movie Lesson Plan


  • This resource is a downloadable PDF
  • Ideal for Grades 11-12
  • Perfect for Language Arts, Life Skills, Character Education, or Leadership classes
  • Aligned to Common Core State Standards
  • Activities designed to help students meet Social & Emotional Learning Competencies

The Way Back Movie Lesson Plan helps teachers share a story of a man who struggles every day with his internal story.

After completing The Way Back Movie Lesson Plan, students will have gained in knowledge in rising above, overcoming obstacles, and focusing on fulfillment.

How different is your external story which the world sees from the internal story you live every day?

Have you experienced pain and suffering that you try to cover up so people do not know how much you are hurting?

Jack Cunningham was a former high school basketball star who was asked to come back and coach his alma mater. But not much has seemed to go right in Jack’s life since his glory days as a teenager. He’s an alcoholic who lost his son to cancer and is separated from his wife. But maybe helping a group of undisciplined boys win basketball games will give Jack the purpose he needs.

The Way Back Movie Lesson Plan teaches us that no matter what story we try to tell the world, we will fall apart if we cannot tolerate the internal story we live every day. Although suffering is something we will all experience in our lives, we can extract meaning from that suffering and use it to create a better version of ourselves.

In order to complete these activities, students will need to watch the movie The Way Back, which has a rating of R (language throughout including some sexual references) and a run time of 1 hour and 48 minutes.

*The language and examples of alcohol abuse definitely make this movie only suitable for mature high school students. However, the lessons which students can learn from this movie are extremely powerful and can have a positive impact on them.


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 The Way Back 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!