Table of Contents

Introduction......................................................................................................

vi

Lesson 1:

The Kinds of Movies We Love
An Introduction to Genre and Theme .............................

1

Lesson 2:

How Movies Work
The Three-Act Structure ........................................................

9

Lesson 3:

The Story YOU Can Tell
Writing from the Heart ......................................................

17

Lesson 4:

The Brainstorm
Coming up with an Idea.........................................................

25

Lesson 5:

Bringing It All Together
Making Your Ideas Work ......................................................

37

Lesson 6:

Developing Characters
Who Will Your Story Be About? .........................................

47

Lesson 7:

Understanding Conflict
What Will Your Story Be About? ........................................

53

Lesson 8:

The Hero/Heroine’s Journey
Merging Conflict and Character...........................................

61

Lesson 9:

Thinking Cinematically
Showing Rather than Telling ................................................

73

Lesson 10: The Pitch
Writing Your Logline and Treatment ................................

81

Glossary

.....................................................................................................

91

Appendix: Standards Alignment ...........................................................

92

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Instructor’s Guide

i

Preface
Welcome to Being A Screenwriter
Being A Screenwriter is the second course in
Community Learning’s “Being” series (Being an
Artist). Our goal is to demystify creative pursuits for
instructors and students alike by providing a step-bystep fun learning process. This course is Part I of a
three-course unit (developing a screenplay idea, writing
a screenplay, and filming a screenplay).
The course consists of 10 action-packed lessons,
encouraging the understanding of film and the creative
writing process. Students are introduced to the film
industry and screenwriting as a career. Learners will
start from the ground up exploring films and genres,
the three acts of a movie, and the “journey” of the
hero/heroine. Students will embrace a step-by-step
process in developing their own ideas for a screenplay:
brainstorming, playing games, writing headlines and
even pretending to be psychiatrists in order to figure
out the who, what, when and where of their best
idea. By the end of the course, students will have a
short description of their movie idea (a logline) and a
synopsis of what is going to happen (a treatment).
To help make the learning adventure rich, fun and
clear for students and instructors, this course focuses
on concrete examples. For the instructor, examples
from the Wizard of Oz are cited to reiterate concepts.
A copy of the DVD Home Alone is included in the
kit for the students to experience examples of literary
concepts. The instructor needs to obtain a DVD player.
To encourage idea development, personal journaling
kits have been provided for the students. These
materials are theirs to keep during and after the course.
These journals represent a personal, non- threatening
mode of communication. Students will have the
opportunity to write in their journals using a variety
of fun marking tools. They are encouraged to draw in
their journals (explore a 6B drawing pencil) or clip and
tape in photos, headlines or articles that inspire them.
It is important that students bring their journaling
kits back and forth from home to class. Journaling
materials are often required for class time use and
student journals are referenced in each lesson.
Encourage students to view Home Alone in its entirety
before the second lesson begins. A sample ticket has
ii Instructor’s Guide

Being A Screenwriter
been included to invite “screenwriters” to the showing.
Simply add the location, date and time. This will be the
beginning of a fun adventure, as you and the students
discover the stories they can’t wait to tell!
The lessons and activities in this unit are aligned to the
Common Core State Standards for English Language
Arts and Literacy in grades 6-8. Each lesson contains
specific information in the Notes to the Instructor
section detailing the specific standards addressed in
that set of activities. For more information on the
standards please see the Standards Matrix included on
pages 92-93.
About the Organization of This Course
The step-wise presentation of each lesson makes
Community Learning materials and activities easy to
follow for any instructor.
Each lesson in the the Instructor’s Guide contains the
following helpful elements:
Objectives
What students can be expected to learn from this
activity.
Materials List
Clear identification of the materials required from the
Course Kit (provided) for each lesson.
Preparation Notes (set-up)
Easy set-ups that ensure learner engagement is on task
and on time.
Notes for the Instructor
A brief introduction to the subject matter and
challenges presented in each lesson, often with real-life
examples from history, popular culture, and, of course,
movies.
Notes for the Students
(including new vocabulary)
Introductory material for the students to read, discuss,
watch or listen to in order to “set the stage” for each
lesson.

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Introduction

Being A Screenwriter
Activity Descriptions
Step-by-step procedures for the participants’ immersion
in the activity.
Wrap-up
Questions designed to summarize learning objectives,
lead a discussion, and encourage journal entries.
Clean-up Notes
Wrap-up and storage instructions for the most cost
effective use and preservation of materials.
Other Directions, Discussions
and Destinations
Helpful links to media, books, and internet resources
that extend lessons and help learners understand new
concepts across disciplinary and cultural divides.
Student Activity Books (Optional) are companions
to the Instructor’s Guide, and provide worksheets and
supplemental information for learners’ knowledge.
These are designed for students to keep, so they add to
and refer back to the information the students learn in
this course.
Student Journaling Kits (Optional) are individual
packages for each student in the class. These materials
are provided for the students to keep during and
after the course. They are designed to motivate and
encourage students to keep a creative journal. Students
may write and draw in their personal journals, as well
as tape in photos and clippings. These journals will
inform the students’ screenplay ideas.
Course Kit Materials include materials needed to
complete each activity outlined in the Instructor’s
Guide.
A Note about Volunteers
Being A Screenwriter has a variety of responsibilities
that can be shared with a volunteer, or other adult,
willing to assist in the preparation and implementation
of the lessons. These responsibilities include but are
not limited to:
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t BTTFNCMJOHNBUFSJBMTCFGPSFIBOE DVUUJOH MBCFMJOH
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t IFMQJOHTUVEFOUTXJUIJOEJWJEVBMXSJUJOHUBTLT
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About Community Learning
Our mission is to provide interactive course kits
created around high interest, thematic topics that
engage students in expanded learning through handson activities and projects. Developed by subject experts
with decades of teaching experience, our courses
provide full support for administrators desiring an
engaging, academically enriching program for their
staff and students.
We need your input!
We look forward to working with you and your
colleagues to create a memorable program for children.
We consider you our treasured partners in making
these classroom-tested activities even better. To this
end, we invite you to complete a short evaluation about
your experiences with Being a Screenwriter. Here are
three easy ways to participate:
1. Online: Go to http://www.commlearning.com/
instructor-evaluation/ and fill out the evaluation.
2. Email: The evaluation form is located on your
Teacher Resource CD. Fill out the pdf form, save
and email it to us at Info@CommLearning.com.
3. Fax: Tear out or copy the form on the following
pages and fax the completed form to our toll-free
fax at: 1-888-675-0238.
Your feedback will be used to take Being a Screenwriter
to the next level in interest and relevance for our young
learners.
As a thank you for completing the evaluation, we’ll
send you a $50.00 coupon good for any Being a
Screenwriter resupply items. Valid for one year.

Tell us what you thought of your teaching
experience!
Share your thoughts
Instructor’s Guide

iii

Being A Screenwriter

Being A Screenwriter
Welcome to part one of “Being A Screenwriter.”
Undoubtedly, you’ve seen tons of movies in your life. Maybe you’ve even
wanted to make one yourself! Well, here’s your chance. In this course,
you’ll learn everything it takes to write a screenplay from the ground up.
The great thing about screenwriting is that you don’t need any special
tools or technology—just your imagination and something to write with.
Anyone can do it. At the end of this course, you will walk away with a
screenwriting journal filled with all the ideas you need to write your
own movie! You will also have written a one-sentence description of
your movie, which is called a “logline,” and a summary of what happens
in your movie (called a “treatment”). Professional screenwriters use
loglines to sell their ideas.
This course will also teach you to look at movies in a whole new way.
You’ll be able to watch movies the way critics do. You’ll be able to identify
exactly what it is that makes a good movie good and a bad movie bad.
When you go to the movies, you’ll find yourself commenting to your
friends about the story like an expert. And, more often than not, you’ll
even be able to predict what will happen in a film before it happens,
because you will know how a screenplay works.
If you’d like to see what a screenplay looks like, check out your local
library. Most libraries have a film and television section with published
screenplays available for you to borrow. You may also want to see if
there are any local film festivals near you. Many cities hold festivals
where filmmakers (and screenwriters) get together and show their work.
Festivals are a chance to get to speak with professional screenwriters
who live and work right in your backyard.
Perhaps you may be interested in becoming a professional screenwriter
yourself. Maybe you want to write the next big Hollywood blockbuster!
There are also plenty of jobs for screenwriters outside of Hollywood.
Everything you see on television required somebody to write it.
Screenwriters write commercials, television programs, public service
announcements and the news. Even reality television shows have
screenwriters! Have you ever had to watch an educational video in
school? Or used an exercise video at home? Screenwriters had to write
those, as well.
In this course, though, we’ll be focusing on what screenwriters are most
famous for: movies. So grab your pencil and your imagination! Let’s get
writing!

vi

Instructor’s Guide

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Lesson 1

The Kinds of Movies We Love:
An Introduction to Genre and Theme
Objectives
Students will:
t Be able to identify genre, including
combinations of genres, in their favorite
movies
t Be able to identify theme in their favorite
movies
t Begin to think about which genres they may
want to use in their own film
Materials
t chalk
t television
t DVD player
t Being A Screenwriter DVD
t 2 bells
t 1 timer
t 1 dry erase scoreboard
t 1 dry erase marker and eraser
t 20 student activity books
t 20 journaling kits
t 20 pencils
Preparation
1. Arrange the desks or tables to accommodate
groups of four students. This arrangement
can be used throughout the course unless
otherwise stated.
2. Arrange the television and DVD player for
optimum viewing.
3. Locate the “Name That Genre” chapter on the
DVD.
4. Make arrangements for a time to show Home
Alone to the students before the next lesson.
5. Set up the dry erase board vertically for keeping
score in the game (activity 3). Draw a line down
the center. Label: Team One and Team Two

Have students bring
journal to every class.

Copyright © Community Learning LLC. All rights reserved.

Notes for the Instructor
The ultimate goal of this course is for the students
to develop a cohesive idea for a screenplay and to
write a logline (a succinct sentence that describes
the overall story of a movie) and a treatment (a
short summary of the movie) describing their
screenplay. Through the course activities, you will
help the students lay down the building blocks of
the screenwriting process and help them begin
to understand exactly what they love most about
movies as they start the process of developing ideas
for their own screenplays. Today’s activities will be
centered around making students familiar with the
two most basic elements of a screenplay: genre and
theme. With today’s lesson, they will begin their
screenwriting journeys.
A film’s genre refers to its broad classification. You
may have seen genres posted in the video store:
action/adventure, comedy, drama, family, etc.
Themes are a little trickier. A theme is a one-or
two-word description of the underlying emotion
of a movie—faith, love, revenge, heartbreak, etc.
Oftentimes it will be easy to come up with more than
one theme for a movie.
In today’s lesson, you’ll review parts of several
example movies with the students when you play
the “Name That Genre” game. To warm up for the
game, students will attempt to identify the genres
and themes of several contemporary movies. You
will find the list of these movies and their correct
genre and themes in the activity section of this lesson,
activity number three. As the students learn to
recognize genre and theme, it’s important for you to
be encouraging. If a student is having a tough time
coming up with the answers in activities two and
three, feel free to help. And if the students are coming
up with answers that don’t necessarily match your
answers, discuss it as a class. Movies often play with
several genres and themes. To keep things simple,
your list contains only the most obvious themes, but
don’t be afraid to let your students get creative!
Instructor’s Guide

1

Lesson 1

The Kinds of Movies We Love: An Introduction to Genre and Theme

Throughout today’s lesson keep the students focused
on how genre and theme fit into the bigger scope of
the course. As you walk around the room during the
workbook activity, ask students about their favorite
genres and themes and if they know which ones they
may like to use in their own screenplays. This is the
beginning of a great adventure! Let your excitement
be contagious!
The activities in this lesson address the following
Common Core State Standards in English Language
Arts and Literacy: CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.7, CCRA.
SL.1, CCRA.SL.2, and CCRA.L.6. See the Standard
Matrix included on pages 92-93 for more detailed
information.
Notes for the Student
In the next ten lessons, you will be learning everything
you need to know to come up with an idea for your
own movie. Before you can begin to think about your
movie, though, it will be helpful to think about what
kind of movies you like. Think about some of your
favorites. Are they funny? Are they romantic? Are they
full of adventure? There’s a word we use to refer to the
classification of movies, or any story, into categories.
We call these categories genres.
If you take a moment to think about the genres of
your favorite movies, you may notice that some
movies fit into more than one genre. In this class, the
movie we’ll use as an example to demonstrate the
many elements of a screenplay is the comedy Home
Alone. We call Home Alone a comedy because, more
often than not, it’s funny. Comedy is the “dominant”
genre, meaning it’s the genre that we see the most in
the movie. But if you look carefully, you’ll probably
be able to see several other genres in Home Alone. For
example, Home Alone is also a family film. It also has
some action in it. There are even some scary moments
in Home Alone. Sometimes screenwriters blend
genres. You may want to do this in your own film.
Genre is the most popular way to classify films, but
screenwriters have a second, more specific system of
classifying movies. Good screenwriters know how to
identify a movie by theme. The theme of a movie is a
2

Instructor’s Guide

one- or two-word phrase that describes the dominant
feeling of a movie. Think again about some of your
favorite movies. Are they about love? Revenge? Greed?
These are all examples of themes. Since there are many
more themes than genres, we won’t attempt to list
them all. But it will be helpful for you to spend some
time thinking about the themes that you enjoy before
you start the process of writing your movie.
Vocabulary
Genre: The category of a movie, such as action,
comedy, horror, science fiction, etc.
Logline: A succinct sentence that describes the
overall story of a movie.
Theme: A word or phrase that sums up the main
emotion of a movie, such as love, revenge, greed, etc.
Treatment: A summary of a screenplay idea that
includes the movie’s genre, theme, main character
and important scenes.
Activity 1: Our Favorite Genres
(5 minutes)
Hand out pencils and activity books. Ask students to
write their names on the front of their activity books.
As a class, brainstorm your favorite genres. Ask the
students if they are familiar with any genres and
which are their favorites. Keep track on the board.
When the students run out of genre ideas, have them
turn in the activity books to “List of Genres” (lesson
1, activity 1), and check the list on the board against
the list of genres in their activity books. Conclude
this activity by answering any remaining questions
students may have about genre.
Give students an opportunity to look through their
student activity books. Explain that these will stay in
the classroom during the duration of the course.

What’s Your
Favorite Genre?
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Lesson 1

The Kinds of Movies We Love: An Introduction to Genre and Theme
Activity 2: Identifying Genre
and Theme
(15 minutes)
1. Ask groups of four students to split into sets of
partners. Have students turn to activity sheet
“Identifying Genre and Theme” (lesson 1, activity
2) in the student activity books.
2. Partners should work together to match each movie
in the center column to the genres and themes in
the left and right columns. Each student should
write in his or her own activity book.
3. Walk around the room and ask students how
they’re doing. If they’re stuck or haven’t seen a
particular movie, tell them to move on to the
next one. Don’t let anybody get frustrated. And
if they think they can identify more than one
theme or genre for each movie, let them draw
two lines for that movie.

t A team can win an extra five points if, once it
has guessed the correct genre, it can correctly
identify the theme of the movie.
t If one team correctly guesses the genre, but not
the theme, the other team again gets a chance
to steal.
t The team with the most points after fifteen
minutes wins. (NOTE: The score-keeping dry
erase board should have two columns, Team
One and Team Two. Tally the points as the
teams earn them.)

“Name That Genre”
Clip

Genre

Theme

Clip 1

Romance

Love

Clip 2

Comedy

Suspense, Love

4. Once everybody has finished, go over the
answers as a class.

Clip 3

Children’s

Caring for Others

Clip 4

Horror

Fear

Activity 3: Name That Genre!
(20 minutes)

Clip 5

Drama

Death, Loss

Clip 6

Western

Friendship, Justice

Clip 7

Sports

Competition,

1. Divide the class into two even teams.
2. Give each team a bell.
3. Place the timer where both teams will be able
to see it.
4. Explain:
t I will play a clip from a movie.
t As a team, see if you can identify the genre of
the film. If you can, ring your bell.
t The first team to ring its bell will be allowed
to answer. If the team answers correctly, it will
win the round. If the team answers incorrectly,
the other team will be given twenty seconds to
answer (for ten points).
t Points will be awarded based on how quickly a
team answers. If you can identify the genre in
ten seconds, you will be awarded twenty points;
in twenty seconds, fifteen points; in thirty
seconds, ten points. Anything after thirty
seconds will be worth five points.

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Overcoming Odds
Clip 8

Sci-Fi

Suspense, Spies

Wrap-Up
(10 minutes)
Pass out the students’ journaling kits. Explain that
the journals (and supplies) are theirs to keep and that
they will use the journals to help develop ideas for
their own screenplays. Ask them to take five minutes
to reflect on their favorite genres and themes and jot
down any ideas they may have regarding genre and
theme in the screenplays they want to create.
Additionally, encourage them to decorate the cover
between class periods and to write their name and
the date on the inside cover. They can see examples
of this in their student activity books.
Instructor’s Guide

3

Lesson 1

Activity 1: List of Genres

Comedy
Romance
Horror
Science fiction
Animated
Action/Adventure
Drama
Western
Musical
Historical
Children’s
Crime
Silent film

Student Book

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Page 2

Instructor’s Guide

5

Lesson 1

Activity 2: Identifying Genre and Theme
Student Activity
Directions: Draw a line from a genre to the correct movie title. Draw a line from a movie title to the correct
theme. If you have not seen a particular movie, take a guess.

Genre

Movies

Theme

Science Fiction

Miracle

Love

Horror

Lady and the Tramp

Revenge

Comedy

Napoleon Dynamite

Overcoming odds

Romance

Pirates of the Caribbean

Growing up

Action/Adventure

Signs

Fear

Drama

The Ring

Family

Answers
Genre

Movies

Science Fiction

Signs

Family

Horror

The Ring

Fear

Comedy

Napoleon Dynamite

Growing up

Romance

Lady and the Tramp

Love

Action/Adventure

Pirates of the Caribbean

Revenge

Drama

Miracle

Overcoming odds

Theme

Student Book

6

Instructor’s Guide

Page 3

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Lesson 1

Journal of Ideas

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Instructor’s Guide

7

Lesson 1

Journal of Ideas

8

Instructor’s Guide

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Lesson 3

The Story YOU Can Tell: Writing from the Heart
Objectives
Students will:
t Learn the importance of writing stories from
the heart, then rewriting with the head
t Generate ideas for movies based on personal
experiences
Materials
t student activity books
t 1 pair of scissors
t 20 pencils
t 20 highlighters
t 60 red dot stickers
Preparation
1. Arrange the desks or tables to accommodate
groups of four students.
2. Cut the red dot stickers into sections of three dots.
3. Assemble the supplies and place them at each
group (4 pencils, 4 highlighters and 4 sets of
stickers).
Notes for the Instructor
In the next lesson students will officially begin the
work of writing the treatment for their screenplay.
Before they can do that, though, they have to come
up with an idea. This can be an incredibly daunting
task for the beginning screenwriter, so in this lesson
we will focus on where ideas come from.
Screenwriters—as well as novelists, poets,
playwrights and most other types of writers, for
that matter—generally agree that the best writing is
the kind that comes from the heart, rather than the
kind that is written for a specific audience. A lot of
beginning screenwriters aspire to write the next great
Hollywood blockbuster. They want to be famous and
make lots of money. But the reality is that making
a screenplay into a blockbuster can be a grueling
process for a screenwriter. This process will be most
rewarding if the writer is writing about something he
or she loves. The same goes for your students.
Copyright © Community Learning LLC. All rights reserved.

Writing your first screenplay can be difficult. There’s
a lot to remember and a lot of thought needs to go
into it. Encourage your students to pursue a subject
close to their hearts rather than a story they come up
with out of thin air. It will make the learning process
easier if they’re pursuing a story they won’t tire of easily.
Additionally, it will be important in the next few class
periods that students feel completely comfortable to
express themselves. Beginning writers are often shy
or unsure of themselves. Be extra encouraging as
you walk around the room during student activities.
Ask students if they need help or if you can answer
any questions for them. Be sure to offer as many
compliments and kind words as you can, and
encourage confident students to keep thinking one
step further. One thing you may try is to refer to the
students as “screenwriters” rather than “students” or
“kids” or “boys and girls” throughout the duration
of the course. It will be fun for them and will show
them that you take them seriously as they begin work
on their screenplays.
The activities in this lesson address the following
Common Core State Standards in English Language
Arts and Literacy: CCRA.W.3, CCRA.W.4,
CCRA.W.5, and CCRA.W.10. See the Standard
Matrix included on pages 92-93 for more detailed
information.
Notes for the Student
Writing a movie is no small task. The average movie
script is between 130 and 150 pages and features
dozens of characters, settings, plot twists, and side
stories. And there are so many genres and themes to
choose from, it’s hard to know where to start! If you
choose to go on to part two of Being A Screenwriter
and write your own screenplay for a short film, you’ll
only be writing ten to fifteen pages. But some might
say you face an even greater challenge: you have to
tell all three acts of your story in a short period of
time! The challenge will be exciting because the story
will come from your life. It is a story you cannot wait
to tell, especially as you imagine it in movie form!
Instructor’s Guide

17

Lesson 3

The Story YOU Can Tell: Writing from the Heart

While there’s no shortcut to actually sitting down
and writing your screenplay, there is one shortcut
to getting started. It’s what professional screenwriter
Viki King calls “The Inner Movie Method.” To use
the Inner Movie Method, simply write from your
heart. Many screenwriters choose to write about
their own personal experiences. Steven Spielberg,
who directed E.T., +VSBTTJD1BSL, and the *OEJBOB
Jones movies, once said, “All those...years I spent as a
kid became what I draw from creatively today.”
There are many ways to write from your heart.
You may want to write about an event that actually
happened to you or someone you know. Or maybe
you want to start with a character or a place you
know well, but create an entirely fictional (or made
up) world around them. Perhaps it’s not a person
or place that is closest to your heart, but a genre or
theme. Or maybe there’s a movie or book that you
love that you always wanted to borrow a character
from or write a sequel to. A sequel is a literary work
or a movie that is complete in itself but continues
a story begun in an earlier book or movie. For
example, Home Alone is followed by the sequel Home
"MPOF-PTUJO/FX:PSL
Today we’re going to tap into the goldmine of ideas
locked inside of you. We’re going to dig up the stories
you forgot existed, revisit the settings you haven’t
seen in a while, and reunite with the characters
you’ve long forgotten. Take special note today of the
stories, settings and characters that excite you the
most. It may just be your heart’s way of telling you
that this is the movie you were meant to write.

Vocabulary
Inner Movie Method: The process by which a movie
idea is first developed from the heart.
Sequel: A book or movie that is complete in itself but
continues the narrative of an earlier work.

Activity 1: The Memory Map
(30 minutes)

1. Hand out student activity books.
2. Have each student turn in their activity books to
“The Memory Map” activity sheet (lesson 3,
activity 1).
3. Instruct each student to draw a map of his or her
neighborhood on the paper. Their maps should
include their homes, their friends’ and neighbors’
homes, playgrounds, neighborhood businesses,
and any place that makes their neighborhood
unique. Give them time to make the map as
detailed as they’d like and to color it in
using their personal journaling tools.
4. Once they’ve drawn their maps, ask them to label
any significant landmarks, like their homes, their
friends’ homes, and any playgrounds, wooded
areas, fields or businesses that are important to
them.
5. Next, have the students select three places on
their maps where something memorable has
happened—something fun, something sad,
something scary, etc. Ask them to place a red dot
sticker on each of these places.
6. Finally, ask the students to open their screenwriting journals. Ask them to write a short
paragraph about their favorite (or strongest)
memory in the journal.

Activity 2: A Photographic
Memory
(20 minutes)

1. Ask the students to take out the photographs
or objects they’ve brought from home. If they
weren’t able to bring something, have them think
of a photograph or an object at home that has
some sentimental value.
2. In their activity books, have them turn to “A
Photographic Memory” activity sheet (lesson 3,
activity 2).
3. Ask them to write a paragraph about why this
photograph or item is special to them.

18

Instructor’s Guide

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Lesson 3

The Story YOU Can Tell: Writing from the Heart
4. Next, have them put aside their personal
feelings. Ask them to write a brief description
of the photograph or object—not about what it
represents to them, but the photo/object itself.
What does it look like? If it’s a photo, what is
featured in it? Was it taken inside or outside? If
it’s an object, what does it do?
5. Finally, have them come up with three stories
from the photo or object. These can be from their
actual memories about the photo/object or they
can be entirely new. Have them write a sentence
describing each story. Example:

as many new ideas as possible. It will be helpful for
students to keep their ideas somewhat organized.
Remind the students that it’s incredibly important
that they bring their screenwriting journals with
them to the next class. They will be using them for
every activity. Don’t let them forget!

Clean-Up
1. Ask one student from each group to return the
pencils and highlighters.
2. Remind students to organize their own
journaling tools.
3. Collect the student activity books.

Other Directions, Discussions
and Destinations

1. When her family moves to a new town,
Samantha relies on her oldest friend, her horse
Juniper, as she learns to deal with her new
surroundings.
2. Despite Juniper’s reputation as a hard horse to
ride, she and Samantha work together to win the
state riding competition.
3. When Samantha finds that a local circus is abusing
its prize-winning horse Juniper, Samantha sets out
to rescue the horse from its captors.

Wrap-Up
(5 minutes)

Give a highlighter to each student. Ask the students to
go through their screenwriting journals and highlight
anything that jumps out at them as being something
they’d potentially like to expand upon. The next class
session will be dedicated solely to coming up with
Copyright © Community Learning LLC. All rights reserved.

1. Encourage the students to dig through their lives
for screenplay ideas between class periods. Have
them take notes in their journals on settings
and characters that inspire them. Perhaps funny
things always happen when they are at a certain
friend’s house. Or maybe there’s a homeless man
or woman they often see in town who makes
them think. Or maybe they have a grandfather
who has a great war story he tells. Have them
record it all. If they don’t use the idea in this
class, maybe they will in the future.
2. Encourage the students to turn their screenwriting
journals into a scrapbook of inspiration. If they
find a photo, a magazine article or a picture that
inspires them, they should tape or glue it into their
journals. They can draw, doodle, sketch, color,
paint (if they really want)—anything to get their
brains working.
3. A great resource for inspiring screenwriting
ideas is Screenwriters Utopia at www.
screenwritersutopia.com. Their front page
always has great prompts, advice and tips on
making a good script idea great.

Instructor’s Guide

19

Lesson 3

Activity 1: The Memory Map
In the space below, draw a map of your neighborhood including your house, your friends’ houses and
any other notable landmarks. Feel free to color, label and decorate it however you see fit.

20 Instructor’s Guide

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Lesson 3
Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love,
the things you are, the things you never want to lose.
~From the television show The Wonder Years

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Instructor’s Guide

21

Lesson 3

Activity 2: A Photographic Memory
Using the photograph or object you brought from home, follow the instructions below.
1. Write a few sentences describing why this photograph or item is important to you.

2. Describe the item or photograph.

3. On the next page try to come up with three storylines using the photograph or object you brought from
home for inspiration. These can be stories that actually happened or totally new ones.
Here’s an example to get you started.

1. When her family moves to a
new town,Samantha relies on
her oldest friend, her horse
Juniper, as she learns to deal
with her new surroundings.
2. Despite Juniper’s reputation
as a hard horse to ride, she and
Samantha work together to win
the state riding competition.
3.
a local circus is abusing its
prize-winning horse Juniper,
Samantha sets out to rescue the
horse from its captors.

Student Book

22 Instructor’s Guide

Page 12

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Lesson 3

Activity 2: A Photographic Memory
1.

2.

3.

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Page 13

Instructor’s Guide

23

Lesson 3

Journal of Ideas

24 Instructor’s Guide

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Lesson 5

Bringing It All Together: Making Your Ideas Work
Objectives
Students will:
t&OHBHFJOBDUJWJUJFTUPHFOFSBUFJEFBTGPSUIFJS
screenplays
t 'JMMUIFJSTDSFFOXSJUJOHKPVSOBMTXJUIJEFBTGPS
their screenplay loglines and treatments
Materials
t QFODJMT
t IJHIMJHIUFST
t SFEQFOT
t i4UPSZ4UBSTwIBOEPVUT
t SPMMTPGDFMMPQIBOFUBQF
t TUVEFOUBDUJWJUZCPPLT
Preparation
1. Arrange desks in groups of four.
2. Place one roll of cellophane tape, four highlighters
and four pencils at each group of desks.
Notes for the Instructor

The story stars the students will create today will
have a bit of a twist. Students will complete several
interconnected story stars (see the worksheet
“Story Stars,” lesson 5, activity 4, for an example).
The goal here is to get the students thinking
about how they may be able to combine aspects
of several stories. As you walk around the room
during this activity, see if students are making these
connections. Encourage them to dig deeper. Fulllength screenplays are filled with interconnected
stories and plot twists. Learning how to connect
storylines and characters will be a valuable skill to
have should the students continue on to part two of
Being A Screenwriter.
The activities in this lesson address the following
Common Core State Standards in English
Language Arts and Literacy: CCRA.SL.1,
CCRA.W.3, CCRA.W.5, and CCRA.W.10. See the
Standard Matrix included on pages 92-93 for more
detailed information.

In the last class session, students brainstormed as
many ideas as they could—focusing on quantity, not
quality. In today’s lesson, the students will hone in on
their best ideas and begin to develop them further.
A lot of what will be done in class today will revolve
around several headlines the students will write from
ideas generated in the last class session. While at first
glance a headline may not seem very pertinent to the
screenwriting process, a headline is in many ways very
similar to the loglines the students will write in the
final class period. Writing headlines will help students
learn to succinctly capture the essence of the story
they want to tell. The final activity in today’s lesson
will revolve around a story-mapping method called
“Story Stars.” Story stars are often used in English
classrooms to help students prepare to write fiction. In
the center of each story star the student writes the title,
or in this case, the headline, of his or her story. In the
five points around the star the student writes the who,
what, when, where and why of the story. (See example
of Wizard of Oz Story Star.)
Copyright © Community Learning LLC. All rights reserved.

Story Star
What

Who

Where

When

How

Instructor’s Guide

37

38

Instructor’s Guide

Why

What

When

When

4

Why

Lost

Dorothy

Who

Dorothy

Oz

Oz

Where

Oz

What

Wants to go home

1

After tornado

After second
meeting with
wizard

Because he
fought monkeys

Why

What

Oz

Where

What

Enters witch’s
castle

3

Realizes he’s brave

5

Lion

Lion

While following
yellow brick road

Why

Because he loves
his friends

In search for
broomstick

When

Who

Where

Story Stars
Wizard of Oz
Example

When

He tries to
scare her
Why

Oz

Where

While following
yellow brick road

2

Meet Scarecrow

Wants a heart

Tin Man

Who

Joins Dorothy

What

Lesson 5
Bringing It All Together: Making Your Ideas Work

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Lesson 5

Bringing It All Together: Making Your Ideas Work
Notes for the Student
In our last class our goal was to come up with
as many ideas as we could without focusing too
much on how they’d fit into our screenplay. Today
we will go back through our journals and try to
make sense of the things we came up with. Now is
the time to remember everything we’ve discussed
thus far in our classes together and put it together
with our own ideas. In the first class we discussed
genre and theme. Which genres and themes most
interested you? Did you come up with anything in
the brainstorming sessions that goes along with your
favorite genres and themes?
We’ve also discussed characters and settings. Which
characters and settings did you like most from your
brainstorming sessions? Can you see any that fit
together well? And how do they work with your
favorite genres and themes.
Today you will play with headlines, like the kind in
newspapers and tabloid magazines, to generate some
more story ideas. You will be mixing and matching
headlines to multiply story possibilities. A writer can
change the who, what, when, why or where of any story
to make a screenplay even more interesting. Hollywood
executives might ask a screenwriter questions like,
“What if Dorothy has a boyfriend?” or “What if Kevin,
while he’s home alone, learns how to drive?”
If this all seems like a lot to think about, don’t
worry. Today’s activities will help you bring all of
these elements together. Nobody expects you to
have a perfect screenplay just yet. Even professional
screenwriters couldn’t have come up with a
screenplay this fast! The average screenplay goes
through countless revisions (or changes) before
it goes from a good idea to an actual movie. Just
remember, the best screenplay you can write will
be one that comes from your heart. So as you go
through your activities today, keep asking yourself,
“Which of these ideas inspires me? Which ones
do I get excited about?” Those are the ones that
you’ll want to keep coming back to. Not only will
it keep the process fun, but your excitement will be
contagious. Your excitement will make people want
to come see your movie.
Copyright © Community Learning LLC. All rights reserved.

Vocabulary
Headline: The title of a newspaper or magazine story.
Revision: Change made to a script or story.
Activity 1: Brainstorm Review
(10 minutes)
1. Hand out student activity books.
2. Give the students ten minutes to go through
their screenwriting journals and highlight
anything that jumps out at them as something
they want to expand upon.
3. If they choose, students can use the red pens to
circle items or make notes in their journals.
Activity 2: Headlines
(10 minutes)
1. Ask students to turn to the “Headlines” activity
sheet (lesson 5, activity 2).
2. Using the ideas highlighted in their journals,
have the students write several headlines, each
including a character and a conflict.
3. Read these examples to give the students a
reference point:
4FSJBM,JMMFS&OHBHFEUP.BSSZ 
 1PQVMBS(PTQFM4JOHFS)VSUJO$SBTI
Williams Sisters Play in Wimbledon 
 %PVCMFT5PVSOBNFOU
4. Ask a student for a headline idea. Together as a
class brainstorm several other headlines, mixing
and matching the possibilities.
5. Give them ten minutes to write as many
headlines as they can.
Activity 3: Extra! Extra!
(10 minutes)
1. Have the students open their activity books to
the “Extra! Extra!” activity sheet (lesson 5,
activity 3).
2. Read to the students the example provided.
3. Ask the students to choose their three favorite
headlines from the last activity and write them
Instructor’s Guide

39

Lesson 5

Bringing It All Together: Making Your Ideas Work

into the graphic organizer in the far left column,
labeled “Headline.”
4. Ask the students to alter the headline for each
genre listed. Make sure to point out that the
“other” category is for any additional genre they
may want to explore.
Activity 4: Story Stars
(20 minutes)
1. Pass out the “Story Stars” handouts. Students
will find a copy of the following directions in
their activity books (“Story Star, Directions”
activity sheet, lesson 5, activity 4).
2. Ask the students to open their activity books to
the “Extra! Extra!” activity sheet (lesson 5,
activity 3) and select their very favorite headline.
3. Ask them to write this headline, in pencil, in the
middle of story star number 1.
4. Next, have them select their second and third
favorite headlines from the “Extra! Extra!” activity
sheet. Students should record these headlines in
the center of story stars number 2 and 3.
5. Finally, in the last two story stars (number 4
and 5) students will come up with two entirely
new headlines based on the graphic organizer
overlap. For example, in the center star on the
right side of the page (number 5), students will
create a new headline that happens in the same
place (where) as the story in star 1 and features
the same main character (who) as the story in
the top right star (number 3).
6. If time allows, select several students to share
their favorite story star. Perhaps other students
want to comment or play with altering the idea.
7. When students have completed their graphic
organizers, they should fold them carefully in
half and tape them to the inside back cover of
their student activity books.

40

Instructor’s Guide

Wrap-Up
(5 minutes)
Give the students five minutes to reflect in their
screenwriting journals. Ask them to write a few
sentences about the best story they came up with
today and about how they see this story translating
into a screenplay. Then, ask them to identify a
main character that they want to focus on for their
screenplay. If they can’t identify one now, encourage
them to have one selected by the next class period.
Clean-Up
1. Ask one student from each group to collect
pencils, red pens and highlighters.
2. Collect the student activity books.
3. Remind students to collect their journaling
materials and remember to bring them to the
next class.
Other Directions, Discussions
and Destinations
1. Organizing ideas not only helps screenwriters
keep track of the things they come up with,
but it can also be useful when trying to assemble
bits and pieces of a story. There are many
different ways to organize ideas and different
things work for different people. Have the
students experiment with organizing their ideas.
They can try writing separate ideas on slips of
paper or 3 x 5 cards. This way they can create
piles or files of like ideas or ideas that seem to fit
together. Or they can try pinning ideas to a
bulletin board or perhaps writing on a white
board or a big sheet of paper at home—anything
that will help them look at all of their ideas more
clearly and find new ways to arrange them.
2. There’s a great online organization tool at
www.bubblr.us. Similar to the story stars, this
application allows users to record an idea and
connect it to other ideas in bubbles, or create
entirely separate systems of bubbles once a train
of thought has ended.

Copyright © Community Learning LLC. All rights reserved.

Lesson 5

Activity 2: Headlines
Example Headlines:
Serial Killer Engaged to Marry
Popular Gospel Singer Hurt in Crash
Williams Sisters Play in Wimbledon Doubles Tournament

Write your headlines below:

Student Book

42

Instructor’s Guide

Page 23

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Lesson 5

Popular Gospel
Singer Bit by
Vampire
During Crash

Headline #3

Headline #2

Headline #1

Popular Gospel
Singer’s Tour Bus
Hit by Circus
Caravan
Popular Gospel
Singer
Hurt in Crash

Popular Gospel
Singer Falls in Love
with Paramedic

Action
Horror
Romance
Comedy
Example Headline

Activity 3: Extra! Extra!

(Science Fiction)
Popular Gospel
Popular Gospel
Singer Hurt in
Singer
Develops
Crash Searches
for the Man Who Psychic Abilities in
Crash
Hit Him

$IPPTFUISFFPGZPVSGBWPSJUFIFBEMJOFTGSPNUIFMBTUBDUJWJUZ
8SJUFFBDIIFBEMJOFJOUPUIFi&YUSB&YUSBwHSBQIJDPSHBOJ[FSJOUIFGBSMFęDPMVNO MBCFMFEi)FBEMJOFw TFFFYBNQMF 

/FYUBMUFSUIFIFBEMJOFGPSFBDIHFOSFMJTUFEBOESFDPSEZPVSOFXIFBEMJOFVOEFSUIFBQQSPQSJBUFHFOSF
ćFiPUIFSwDBUFHPSZJTGPSBOZBEEJUJPOBMHFOSFZPVNBZXBOUUPFYQMPSF

Other

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Student Book

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Page 24

Instructor’s Guide

43

Lesson 5

Activity 4: Star Story Directions
t  4FMFDUZPVSWFSZGBWPSJUFIFBEMJOFGSPNUIFi&YUSB&YUSBwBDUJWJUZTIFFU
t  *OQFODJM XSJUFUIJTIFBEMJOFJOUIFNJEEMFPGTUPSZTUBSOVNCFS
t  /FYU TFMFDUZPVSTFDPOEBOEUIJSEGBWPSJUFIFBEMJOFTGSPNUIFi&YUSB&YUSBw
activity sheet.
t  3FDPSEUIFTFIFBEMJOFTJOUIFDFOUFSPGTUPSZTUBSTOVNCFSBOE
t  'JOBMMZ JOUIFMBTUUXPTUPSZTUBST OVNCFSTBOE 
DPNFVQXJUIUXPFOUJSFMZOFX
headlines based on the graphic organizer overlap.
t  'PSFYBNQMF JOTUBSOVNCFS DSFBUFBOFXIFBEMJOFUIBUIBQQFOTJOUIFTBNF
place (where) as the story in star number 1 and features the same main character
(who) as the story in star number 3.
t  8IFOZPVIBWFDPNQMFUFEUIFHSBQIJDPSHBOJ[FSBOEEJTDVTTFEJUXJUIUIFDMBTT 
carefully fold the sheet in half and tape it to the inside back cover of your student
activity book.

Student Book

44

Instructor’s Guide

Page 25

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2

Why

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Hospital

Who

When

4

Student Book

1
Why

Highway

Where

Highway

Summer

What

Killed in crash

Gospel singer

The road was icy

Christmas

When

Christmas

Shopping mall

Her tour bus
breaks down

Why

What

Performs a concert

5

Gospel singer

Gospel singer

Where

Who

In the woods

Where

What

Bit by vampire

3

Gospel singer

During car crash

When

Why

The vampire was
in love with her

Who

He got separated
from his mom
and dad
Why

Where

Gospel Singer

Tries to reunite a
lost child with
his parents

What

He saves her life

After car crash

When

Falls in love with
paramedic

What

Lesson 5

Activity 4: Story Star Examples

Page 26

Instructor’s Guide

45

Lesson 5

Journal of Ideas

46

Instructor’s Guide

Copyright © Community Learning LLC. All rights reserved.

Glossary
Antagonist: The enemy of the movie’s hero/heroine.
Application of the goal: The way in which the
character is changed by his or her journey.
Attainment of the goal: The moment when a hero/
heroine resolves the central conflict of a film.
Brainstorm: A process in which new ideas are
created.
Call to adventure: The moment in a hero/heroine’s
journey when he or she is removed from his or her
everyday life.
Central conflict: The dominant problem in a movie
that propels the action from start to finish.
Character arc: The change in a character
throughout the character’s life.
Cinematic: The visual aspect of movies that makes
them unique from other types of art.
Climax: The emotional high point of the movie.
Complication: A conflict arising in a movie that
requires immediate attention.
Conflict: The problem the hero/heroine is trying to
solve and/or tension in a story.

Logline: A succinct sentence that describes the
overall story of a movie.
Low point: The point in the film in which the hero/
heroine seems farthest from his or her goal.
Pitch: A presentation of an idea for a film or
screenplay.
Protagonist: The hero/heroine of the movie.
Resolution: The point in the film when the conflict is
finally worked out.
Return to the ordinary world: The point in a film
when a character returns to his or her everyday life.
Revision: Change made to a script or story.
Road of trials: The events that occur as a hero/
heroine attempts to reach his or her goal.
Sequel: A book or movie that is complete in itself but
continues the narrative of an earlier work.
Setting: The place and time a story occurs.
Storyboard: A visual representation of the scenes of
a movie.
Subplot: A side-story in a movie.

Genre: The category of a movie, such as action,
comedy, horror, science fiction, etc.

Tagline: A sentence or phrase used to market (or
sell) a movie.

Headline: The title of a newspaper or magazine
story.

Theme: A word or phrase that sums up the main
emotion of a movie, such as love, revenge, greed, etc.

Hero/heroine’s journey: The events that influence a
character’s arc in a given movie.

Three-act structure: The structural system for most
Hollywood films composed of the setting, conflict
and resolution.

Improvisation: To spontaneously perform, or to
perform without any preparation.
Inner Movie Method: The process by which a movie
idea is first developed from the heart.
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Treatment: A summary of a screenplay idea that
includes the movie’s genre, theme, main character
and important scenes.
Instructor’s Guide

91

Appendix
research, reflection, and revision) and shorter
time frames (a single sitting or a day or two)
for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Being a Screenwriter Standards Matrix
This unit meets Common Core State Standards
(CCSS) in English Language Arts and Literacy.
The lessons and activities in this unit address the
Common Core Anchor Standards for Reading,
Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language.
The activities are designed for students in grades
6-8. Specific CCSS addressed include:

Speaking and Listening 

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for and participate effectively in a range of
conversations and collaborations with diverse
partners, building on others’ ideas and
expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
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and evaluate information presented in
diverse media and formats, including visually,
quantitatively, and orally.

Reading 

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central ideas or themes of a text and analyze
their development; summarize the key
supporting details and ideas.  

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and why individuals, events, or ideas develop
and interact over the course of a text.

Language 

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and evaluate content presented in diverse
media and formats, including visually and
quantitatively, as well as in words

Writing 

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narratives to develop real or imagined
experiences or events using effective technique,
well-chosen details and well-structured event
sequences. 

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clear and coherent writing in which the
development, organization, and style are
appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. 

t $$44&-"-JUFSBDZ$$3"8%FWFMPQBOE
strengthen writing as needed by planning,
revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new
approach. 

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routinely over extended time frames (time for

92

Instructor’s Guide 

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use accurately a range of general academic
and domain-specific words and phrases
sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and
listening at the college and career readiness
level; demonstrate independence in gathering
vocabulary knowledge when encountering an
unknown term important to comprehension or
expression.

Copyright © Community Learning LLC. All rights reserved.

Appendix

Being a Screenwriter Standards Matrix

Standards Matrix
Standard

Lesson
1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Common Core Learning Standard
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2:

Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development;
summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.3:

Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the
course of a text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.7:

Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including
visually and quantitatively, as well as in words

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.1:

Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and
collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their
own clearly and persuasively.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.2:

Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats,
including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

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CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.6:

Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words
and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college
and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary
knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or
expression.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.3:

Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective
technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.4:

Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and
style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.5:

Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting,
or trying a new approach.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.10:

Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and
revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of
tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Copyright © Community Learning LLC. All rights reserved.

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Instructor’s Guide

93

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