Lesson Plans Based on Movies & Film Clips!                                         

Terms of Use   



    SUBJECTS — Dance; Drama/Musicals;
    SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Breaking Out; Friendship, Peer Pressure;
             Father/Son; Talent;
    MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Respect; Caring.
    Age: 8 - 14; No MPAA rating; Musical; 2006; 98 minutes; Color; Available from Amazon.com.

    Description:     Troy is the star of the basketball team. The big game is coming up but Troy discovers that he enjoys singing, especially with his new friend Gabriella. Troy is afraid of how his teammates and his father/coach will react if he auditions for the school musical. Gabriella is a "brain" who would rather read than party. She also likes to sing, especially with Troy. After some false starts, the kids at the school decide that they should support their friends Troy and Gabriella rather than imposing the strict limits of the group culture.

    Benefits of the Movie: This film will help combat the power of peer pressure. It has a lot to say about respect, caring, friendship, and the importance of being your own person and following your own dream. It teaches that kids from different cliques at a school can work together and be friends. A subplot about Troy's relationship with his father/coach will be helpful for kids whose parents seek to re-live their youth through their children.

    Academic benefits are limited to: 1) vocabulary building; 2) an introduction to Broadway style dance and singing performances; and 3) a comparison with Romeo and Juliet.

    Possible Problems:     MINOR. The resolution of the plot involves rigging the electricity at the basketball game to go off when Troy and Gabriella are scheduled to audition for the musical. To release Gabriella from the academic decathlon competition the students make a chemical reaction that causes an odor forcing the evacuation of the room. There are two ways to handle this. One is to ignore it and focus on the strengths of the film in social-emotional learning. The other is to discuss what the students did and point out that it could have backfired and gotten the kids into serious trouble: for example, they could have been suspended and their teams could have forfeited their competitions. See Character Counts Discussion Questions.


Benefits of the Movie
Possible Problems
Parenting Points
Selected Awards & Cast
Helpful Background
Discussion Questions
--- Social-Emotional Learning
--- Moral-Ethical Emphasis
      (Character Counts)
Links to the Internet
Assignments, Projects & Activities

WORKSHEETS: TWM offers the following worksheets to keep students' minds on the movie and direct them to the lessons that can be learned from the film. Teachers can modify the movie worksheets to fit the needs of each class. See also TWM's Movies as Literature Homework Project.

    Parenting Points    

    Watch the movie once with your kids. To emphasize the lessons of the film in social-emotional learning, simply take them seriously. In the car on the way to school or at meal or bedtime, make comments or ask questions about the movie.

    For example, a parent might say, "I was really impressed with how quickly Chad [Danforth] realized that he had to support his friend Troy. The basketball team shouldn't have played that trick on Troy by videotaping him, but once Chad saw that Troy was unhappy, Chad supported Troy's decision to sing with Gabriella. That was pretty impressive." Another technique is to warn children that the movie doesn't really show how strong peer pressure can be in middle school or high school. A parent might comment that, "It's too bad but many kids stop doing things they really like to do out of fear of what their friends might think." See Discussion Questions which focus on the strengths of the film in social-emotional learning.

    The lyrics to the songs express most of the lessons of the movie. (Many families have bought the CD of the songs from the movie.) Ask your kids what the lyrics mean and start a discussion from there focusing on the lessons of the film in social-emotional learning. If you do this, the lessons of the movie will be repeated each time your kids hear the song. In addition, the movie is an excellent vocabulary builder. With younger children, explain some of the references or words they may not understand. (See Building Vocabulary.) A fun activity will be for parents and children to cook strudel, scones, apple pandowdy or anything else they may want to bake and serve it as dessert. You can also foster reading by bringing home the book written to accompany the movie.

    Pick and choose just a few of the comments or discussion questions suggested by this Learning Guide that will be most important to your children. Don't try to do too much. Avoid being preachy. A few comments over the course of several weeks will get your kids to think seriously about the lessons of this movie.
  QUICK DISCUSSION QUESTION:   How did Troy's decision to sing help other students at the school? Suggested Response: It gave them the courage to come forward and tell their friends about their own special interests. Examples are: the heavy girl who wanted to dance, the skater boy who liked to play the cello, and the basketball player who loved to bake.

"We originally thought this movie would reach kids 8-14 but marketing data shows that it is popular with ages 6-16 and that many parents are watching the film with their children." Bill Borden, Executive Producer of "High School Musical"

"The feedback we're getting from kids and parents tells us that this movie can sometimes change lives. Kids who see this movie realize that they are not being weird if they have interests that are different from their friends. They feel empowered to be themselves: to dance, to bake, to draw, to play the cello ... whatever." Bill Borden, Executive Producer of "High School Musical"

    Selected Awards, Cast and Director:

      Selected Awards: None.

      Featured Actors: Zac Efron as Troy Bolton, Vanessa Anne Hudgens as Gabriella Montez, Ashley Tisdale as Sharpay Evans, Lucas Grabeel as Ryan Evans, Alyson Reed as Ms. Darbus, Corbin Bleu as Chad Danforth, Monique Coleman as Taylor McKessie, Olesya Rulin as Kelsi Nielsen, Chris Warren Jr. as Zeke, and Bart Johnson as Coach Jack Bolton.

      Director: Kenny Ortega.

    Helpful Background:

    This modern adaptation of the Romeo and Juliet story (with a happy ending) is recommended not for its help with curriculum but for its character building potential. It also shows some good ensemble dancing.

    Many of the lessons in this film that relate to social-emotional learning are from the songs: "Start of Something New," "Get'cha Head in the Game," "Stick to the Status Quo," "Breaking Free," and "We're All in This Together." See the Discussion Questions.
  For English Language Arts classes, distribute TWM's Film Study Worksheet. Teachers can modify the worksheet to fit the needs of each class. Ask students to fill out the worksheet as they watch the film or at the film's end.

Click here for TWM's lesson plans to introduce cinematic and theatrical technique.


    Discussion Questions:

    1.  Standard Questions Suitable for Any Film

    2.  What is the origin of the term "status quo" and what does it mean?

    3.  Compare the plot of the movie to the plot of Romeo and Juliet. For each difference, describe what act of friendship made that difference.

  Select questions that are appropriate for your students.

Become a TWM Fan on


    Social-Emotional Learning Discussion Questions:

    Breaking Out

    1.  See the Quick Discussion Question at the beginning of this Guide.

    2.  What is the song "Start of Something New" about?

    3.  What are the actors telling us in the song "We're All in This Together"?

    Peer Pressure and Friendship

    4.  Chad Danforth, Troy's friend, did one really good thing in this movie. What was it?

    5.  What is peer pressure?

    6.  Troy's father told his son, "If your friends laugh at you, maybe they're not your friends." Do you agree or disagree? Explain your reasons.

    7.  In this movie, both Troy and Gabriella had to overcome something in order to try out for the musical. What was it?

    8.  What is Troy singing about in the song "Get'cha Head in the Game"?

    9.  What is the song "Stick to the Status Quo" about?

    10.  In the song "Breaking Free," what are the kids breaking free from?

    11.  Gabriella told Troy that he was a cool guy, but not for the reasons that his friends thought. What was she referring to?

    12.  Have you ever had an experience in which you felt pressured by your friends to do something or not to do it? What happened?


    13.  What happens to talent when it is not allowed to come out because of peer pressure or for some other reason?

    14.  How does Gabriella deal with her stage fright?


    15.  What did you think of the relationship between Troy and his father?


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.

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

    Moral-Ethical Emphasis Discussion Questions (Character Counts)

    The first three questions set out below should be asked in sequence. They will correct for a possible problem with this movie.

    1.  Troy, Gabriella, and their friends, once they decided to work together, did two things which could have gotten them into a lot of trouble. What are they?

    2.  What could have happened if the kids were caught trying to disrupt the basketball game and the academic decathlon?

    3.  Can you think of a better way to handle this situation?

    4.  What did you think about the basketball boys secretly recording Troy and giving it to the scholastic decathlon team to show to Gabriella?

    Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.


    (Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule; Be tolerant of differences; Use good manners, not bad language; Be considerate of the feelings of others; Don't threaten, hit or hurt anyone; Deal peacefully with anger, insults and disagreements)

    See questions relating to Peer Pressure and Friendship.

    5.  What is the role of respect in friendship?


    (Be kind; Be compassionate and show you care; Express gratitude; Forgive others; Help people in need)

    See questions relating to Peer Pressure and Friendship.

    6.  How does the concept of caring apply to friendship?


Teachwithmovies.com is a Character Counts "Six Pillars Partner" and uses The Six Pillars of Character to organize ethical principles.

Character Counts and the Six Pillars of Character are marks of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition, a project of the Josephson Institute of Ethics.


BUILDING VOCABULARY: aggressive, alternate universe, amateur, "break free", "bust my chops", cast (as in to cast a spell), celebration, "chapel of the arts", civilization, "the competition", "cross my mind", cheerleaderese, confess, creative spirit, detention, Einsteinette, farce, firm nail beds, heinous, honorable, inhibitions, "in the zone", "ladder of success", leotard, lunkhead, miracle, musical, musicale, the pick, slam dunk, spell, temptress, touchdown, Tony Award, Tony Hawk, worship, [From the Lyrics to "Status Quo"]: status quo; creme brulee, temptress, on a roll, obsession, strudels, scones, apple pandowdy, passion, cello, violin, call back, "don't mess with the flow".
  MOVIES ON RELATED TOPICS: See the films listed in the Drama (Stage)/Musicals section of the Subject Matter Index.

    Assignments, Projects, and Activities:

    1. Assignments, Projects, and Activities for Use With Any Film that is a Work of Fiction

    2. Write a new ending for the movie telling us what would have happened if the basketball boys and the kids on the academic decathlon team had not decided to respect their friends and support Troy and Gabriella in their effort to sing in the musical.

    3. Have a class party and allow students who like to cook bring their favorite dessert, even if it's scones, strudel, or apple pandowdy.


© TeachWithMovies.com, Inc. All rights reserved. Note that unless otherwise indicated any quotations attributed to a source, photographs, illustrations, maps, diagrams or paintings were copied from public domain sources or are included based upon the "fair use" doctrine. No claim to copyright is made as to those items. DVD or VHS covers are in the public domain. TeachWithMovies.org®, TeachWithMovies.com®, Talking and Playing with Movies™, and the pencil and filmstrip logo are trademarks of TeachWithMovies.com, Inc.

TWM grants free limited licenses to copy TWM curriculum materials only to educators in public or non-profit schools and to parents trying to help educate their children. See TWM's Terms of Use for a full description of the free licenses and limits on the rights of others to copy TWM.