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Teaching the Freedom Writers: A Final Word at NECC

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Erin Gruwell's inspiring keynote, which marked the end of this year's NECC, illustrated the importance of making learning relevant to students and using tools, like education technology, to help students achieve.

Gruwell, a teacher from Los Angeles who started the Freedom Writer's Foundation, which encourages underachieving students to write, discussed the ways that she motivated her students to believe in themselves and ultimately share their stories in a book that went on to become a New York Times bestseller. Gruwell was able to help her students connect to writing by relating the story of Anne Frank to their own lives. Through donations, she received a computer for each of her students to type out their own stories to be shared in the book.

It's not hard to see how Gruwell was able to turn a project involving 150 students in Long Beach, Calif., into a best-selling story and feature-length movie when you hear her speak. Her excitement and passion about teaching was obvious and infectious. Listening to her story was a welcome reminder of the importance of education and the power that teachers have to change the lives of their students.

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The beautiful thing about having Erin speak at NECC is that other teachers and educators could see that just as she was incredibly inspirational to her students and therefore made a very major contribution to their lives, they too could do the same. Together teachers can change the world for the better, one child at a time.

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