>Review: Freedom Writers Diary

>I suppose the grass will always look greener on the other side of the content area fence, but especially after I read about teachers like Erin Gruwell, I really wonder whether I should have taught English instead.  I feel like there is so much more room in a language arts classroom to let students tell their stories, but I suppose that always depends on the school and the type of environment I set up for my students.  The daily introductions I did with the kids in my student teaching placement were a neat little way of getting at students’ personal experiences and relating them to science, and I think that’s very important.  I definitely want to do some sort of reflective journaling with my classes at least once a week next year, not only to help them think about how science is part of their lives, but also to work on literacy skills and to get to know them better.  The Freedom Writers Diary is written so that entries from all the different students are numbered instead of identified by the writer’s name, and there is no correspondence between number and writer.  At first this bugged me a little because I felt like I never knew who was speaking, but over time I recognized certain students alluding to events they had previously written about, and I guess that is more realistic.  There is never a point in the school year where you suddenly know everything there is to know about a student; rather, you get dribbles and drops from each assignment they turn in, every conversation you have before class, every interaction you observe them having with other students and teachers.  As a teacher, you have to work really hard to get to know your students, especially high schoolers, I’m sure, but nothing happens in the classroom without that trust and familiarity.

Gruwell, E. (2006). The Freedom Writers Diary. New York: Broadway Books.


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