Erin Gruwell successfully engages a difficult group of at-risk students. Which of her teaching strategies do you think were most effective and why? Why do you think the students responded to...

Erin Gruwell successfully engages a difficult group of at-risk students. Which of her teaching strategies do you think were most effective and why? Why do you think the students responded to Gruwell's methods?

Asked on by dkgarran

5 Answers

edcon's profile pic

edcon | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

As a veteran secondary English teacher, I believe Erin Gruwell understood that she needed to find out where her students were falling short in terms of their cultural literacy and make the connection to what was relevant in their own lives. What is so fascinating is that she cared enough to follow up on a racist remark one of her students made and bravely demonstrated how that kind of thinking, left unchallenged, can lead to the ignorance, hatred, and intolerance that produced the Holocaust.  What made it resonate with her students is that she spearheaded the effort to bring Miep Gies to meet with students after they had read Anne Frank's diary.  Instead of "ancient" (to some students' way of thinking) history, the woman who stood before them was a tangible link to the atrocities that occurred during WWII.  

Gruwell's idea to have students keep journals about their own lives and turn them into videos after reading nonfiction by other young writers growing up amidst crises established relevance in the same way she handled the Holocaust readings.  She wisely incorporated the kind of technology that interests teens and welcomed their subjective responses and honored their experiences.  

The positive responses Gruwell received from her students were the result of her willingness to meet them where they were in their lives instead of expecting them to put aside their own interests, concerns, and perspectives. It is a natural phase of teenagers' development for them to be self-obsessed, and instead of ignoring that behavior, she wisely used it as a way into the works she taught--and at the same time, likely nudged them into using a lens that enabled them to understand the perspectives of others.

mshurn's profile pic

Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The teaching stragegy that I found most effective was her finding the bridge between education in the classroom and the realworld, connecting learning to life experiences. She didn't teach in a system-imposed or self-imposed vacuum. I think her students responded to her methods because they were fresh, innovative, and creative--a real change from the norm and one that took them beyond the limitations of their own daily lives. She opened their minds, widen their worlds, and engaged them in experiences they could not have imagined without her leadership--the essence of genuine education.

lucky90's profile pic

lucky90 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

yap, I sure that, she really braved to face the great challenge with her teaching strategy by journaling daily thoughts, even her students haven't honored and tursted to her. but i really respect to her, and i expected most of peoples in this world have good experience like her.....

spazzer23's profile pic

spazzer23 | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on

Well she teaches by getting the kids into the disscusion by dressing up and using accents, also she makes them journal, than last but not least goes on field trips