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What Happens When Change Occurs to Countries, Cities, Communities, and Individuals?

Note to Teachers: This lesson plan is designed to help students see that "progress" to some groups is "loss" to others. In the movie Cars, the town which had been thriving when it was on Route 66 (Radiator Springs) became almost a ghost town when the new interstate went in. In reality, this happened to many towns across the US and changes were due to many other factors as well. Students are asked to assume the position of a marketing company that is going to work with a town along the former Route 66 which wants to attract more residents, tourists, or businesses to its area despite being away from the main highways.

This lesson plan was written and submitted to TWM by Joan Belknap and Kevin Kahler of Regina Jr/Sr High School, Iowa City, Iowa. Ms. Belknap is the librarian at the school and Mr. Kahler is an 8th Grade American History Teacher. TWM has adapted the lesson plan to our format and made it more generic. By agreement with with Ms. Belknap and Mr. Kahler, this Lesson Plan is offered to TWM users pursuant to TWM's Free License set out in TWM's Terms of Use.

The lesson plan is presented in Apple's Pages word processing program and as a PDF. References are made to various Google products such as Google Maps and Google Documents. If the class is accostumed to using other programs, change or modify those references as appopriate.

SUBJECTS — U.S. 1945 - Current;

Age: Middle School; MPAA Rating *; Animated Drama; 2015, * minutes; Color. Available from Amazon.com.

Description: Cars is a children's movie about a talented rookie race car named Lightning McQueen. He is so obsessed with winning that he can't be a friend to anyone. McQueen's career is threatened when he accidentally winds up in a small town on Route 66. It's businesses and people are suffering because it has been bypassed by the new Interstate. Trying to make it back to the racetrack for a big race, McQueen damages property. He is arrested and forced to repair the damages before he can leave. In his travail, McQueen finds true friends and learns that winning isn't everything.

Rationale for the Lesson Plan: Change, things affected by change, and reaction to change are universal. Education includes becoming aware of this fact and developing tools to analyze it.

Objectives/Student Outcomes Using this Learning Plan: Students will become acquainted with and develop tools to answer the following questions: What happens when change occurs to countries, cities, communities, and individuals? What happens when change occurs due to natural causes, technology, warfare, migration?

Possible Problems: None.



Rationale and Objectives
Possible Problems
Parenting Points

Using the Movie in Class:
      Introduction to the Movie
      Discussion Questions


      Bridges to Reading
      Links to the Internet
      CCSS Anchor Standards
      Selected Awards & Cast
Helpful Background

Additional Discussion Questions:
      Subjects (Curriculum Topics)
      Social-Emotional Learning
      Moral-Ethical Emphasis
            (Character Counts)

Other Sections:
      CCSS Anchor Standards
      Selected Awards & Cast
For shortened guides use the following followed by /td

Other Sections:

Additional Discussion Questions:
     Social-Emotional Learning
     Moral-Ethical Emphasis
           (Character Counts)

MOVIE WORKSHEETS: TWM offers the following movie worksheets to keep students' minds on the film and to focus their attention on the lessons to be learned from the movie. Teachers can modify the movie worksheets to fit the needs of each class. See also TWM's Historical Fiction in Film Cross-Curricular Homework Project.

See also TWM's Historical Fiction in Film Cross-Curricular Homework Project and Movies as Literature Homework Project.

Additional ideas for lesson plans for this movie can be found at TWM's guide to Lesson Plans Using Film Adaptations of Novels, Short Stories or Plays.


Introduction to the Movie and Closing:

Before showing the movie, tell the class that the film shows a realistic view of jury deliberations.

At the end of the movie, tell the class that the conviction of innocent people is still a serious problem in the United States. For example, in 2000 the governor of Illinois issued a moratorium on death sentences in his state because more than 13 people who had been convicted and sentenced to death were later found to be innocent and at least one innocent man had been executed.


Discussion Questions:

After watching the film, engage the class in a discussion about the movie.

1.   XX Suggested Response:

2.   XX Suggested Response:

3.   XX Suggested Response:

4.   XX Suggested Response:

5.   XX Suggested Response:

For seven additional discussion questions, click here.


Any of the discussion questions can serve as a writing prompt. Additional assignments include:

1.   Research the evolution of the Innocence Project and present the information to the class as an example of how often trials can result in wrongful conviction. Use a Power Point format and include your sources of information.

2.   Look up the concept of "due process" and write a formal essay in which you evaluate the film in terms of its adherence to the principle of "fundamental fairness."

3.   Write a newspaper account of the process by which the jurors determined that the accused in the case described in 12 Angry Men was innocent of the crime. You may want to make up quotes and attribute comments to various jurors that explain why they voted for or against conviction and ultimately changed their minds.

See also Additional Assignments for Use With any Film that is a Work of Fiction.


Select questions that are appropriate for your students.

Parenting Points: Watch the movie with your child and assure your child that situations have occurred when one juror has turned a jury around.

Reminder to Teachers: Obtain all required permissions from your school administration before showing any film.

Teachers who want parental permission to show this movie can use TWM's Movie Permission Slip.

Social-Emotional Learning Discussion Questions:


      See ELA Discussion Questions numbered 1, 3, 12, and 13.


      See ELA Discussion Questions numbered 6, 9, and 14.

1.  XXX Suggested Response: XXX

2.   XXX Suggested Response: XXX

3.  XXX Suggested Response: XXX

Moral-Ethics Discussion Questions (Character Counts):


4.  XXX Suggested Response: XXX


5.   XXX Suggested Response: XXX

Bridges to Reading:


Links to the Internet:


Common Core State Standards that can be Served by this Learning Guide
(Anchor Standards only)

Multimedia: Anchor Standard #7 for Reading (for both ELA classes and for History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Classes). (The three Anchor Standards read: "Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media, including visually and quantitatively as well as in words.") CCSS pp. 35 & 60. See also Anchor Standard # 2 for ELA Speaking and Listening, CCSS pg. 48.

Reading: Anchor Standards #s 1, 2, 7 and 8 for Reading and related standards (for both ELA classes and for History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Classes). CCSS pp. 35 & 60.

Writing: Anchor Standards #s 1 - 5 and 7- 10 for Writing and related standards (for both ELA classes and for History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Classes). CCSS pp. 41 & 63.

Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards #s 1 - 3 (for ELA classes). CCSS pg. 48.

Not all assignments reach all Anchor Standards. Teachers are encouraged to review the specific standards to make sure that over the term all standards are met.

Selected Awards, Cast and Director:

Selected Awards: 2013 Annie Awards: Best Animated Effects in an Animated Production; Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production;

Featured Actors:



In addition to websites which may be linked in the Guide and selected film reviews listed on the Movie Review Query Engine, the following resources were consulted in the preparation of this Learning Guide:


Select questions that are appropriate for your students.

Give us your feedback! Was the Guide helpful? If so, which sections were most helpful? Do you have any suggestions for improvement? Email us!

This Learning Guide written by James Frieden and Deborah Elliott and was published on December 26, 2013.

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