Freedom Writers Foundation Teachers Equipped With Collaboration Tools

Although teachers collaborate on lesson plans and projects across schools and districts every day, the Freedom Writers Foundation has proven that the power of technology enables this across time zones and even various levels of technology familiarity. The Foundation brought together 150 teachers from across the United States and Canada to jointly compose their new book Teaching Hope: Stories from the Freedom Writers Teachers, (Broadway Books, August 2009) with the help of donated tools and support from HP and Microsoft Corp. Today, in her keynote presentation at the National Educational Computing Conference, Erin Gruwell, founder of the Freedom Writers Foundation, will share the supporting, yet critical role, that technology played in easing the teacher/author collaboration, relationship building and ultimately impacting change.

Collaborating with technology

The Freedom Writers Teachers came together last summer as part of the Foundation's teacher-training program, spurred on by the success of Paramount Pictures' "Freedom Writers," starring Hilary Swank, based on the book The Freedom Writers Diary, by Gruwell and her students. The teachers, representing fresh approaches to "teaching hope" from all school settings and geographies, received the donated tools and training as they commenced writing their personal classroom stories featured in the new book.

Staying connected with the HP Mini and Microsoft Office OneNote 2007, allowed the teachers to access information, collaborate in real time, and communicate via e-mail, IM, and blogging with the integrated wireless technologies. Office OneNote 2007 ( is a "digital notebook" that provides people one place to gather notes, audio and visual information, powerful search to find what they are looking for quickly, and easy-to-use shared notebooks to manage information and work together more effectively.

"Given the immense inequity in skills and access to technology going into writing this book, we were worried true collaboration would be next to impossible," said Zachary Chase, a Freedom Writers Teacher. "Our new tools leveled the field for technophobic and technophilic teachers alike. We were able to work together across a common platform. I hope this unified and connected spirit comes through for everyone who reads Teaching Hope."

Applying technology lessons learned in the classroom

Beyond the book, some of the Freedom Writers Teachers are also using this technology in their classrooms and to share with colleagues across their districts. This next school term, Christine Neuner, a Freedom Writers Teacher, plans to use Office OneNote 2007 to give students a chance to send drafts of their works for peer-editing.

"I think it is imperative for the students to use such technology at the high school level because they will be using similar technology in post-secondary schools and training," said Neuner. "They will have to be technologically prepared for the workplace as well. Using OneNote is just another way for me to help prepare them for the future."

The HP Mini can change how K-12 children learn today and is the practical answer to one-to-one computing. Students can learn collaboration, problem solving and creative skills, which will prepare them for life after school. With the right technology, students learn to communicate effectively with multimedia and think critically as they decide how to present knowledge effectively - giving them a bigger voice in the world.

Teaching Hope: Stories from the Freedom Writers Teachers will be available for sale on August 18, 2009 wherever books are sold. Teaching Hope unites the voices of these Freedom Writer teachers, who share uplifting, devastating, and poignant stories from their classrooms, stories that provide insight into the struggles and triumphs of education in all of its forms. Mirroring an academic year, these dispatches from the front lines of education take us from the anticipation of the first day to the disillusionment, challenges, and triumphs of the school year. These are the voices of teachers who persevere in the face of intolerance, rigid administration, and countless other challenges, and continue to reach out and teach those who are deemed unteachable. Their stories inspire everyone to make a difference in the world around them.

About The Freedom Writers Foundation

The Freedom Writers Foundation provides educators with transformative methods to engage, enlighten and empower vulnerable, at-risk students to reach their full potential. For more information, please visit