top of page

Free Resources for Terry Trueman's Stuck in Neutral

Updated: Jul 19, 2022

Way back in the day, I taught Stuck in Neutral to my grade level freshmen. It was the only book in the book room that was close to their reading level (as indicated by reading inventory scores), and its high interest and low page count immediately appealed to my kids (who were just looking for a reason to run away from a book). Stuck in Neutral sucked them right in.

I have not taught this book in eight or nine years, so I can’t walk you through all of the ins and outs as I can with some of the things I am teaching right now, but below are my old unit notes and handouts.

My general unit objectives were:

Students will be able to back up their opinions with textual support.

Students will be able to write an opinion paragraph with text support.

Students will be able to make connections between texts.

Students will be able to describe three traits of Cerebral Palsy.

Start of Unit

I opened the unit, as always, by building anticipation and background knowledge.

I started with an anticipation guide (which I could not find), and then I lectured about Cerebral Palsy and had kids take a few notes on this handout: What is Cerebral Palsy? I thought my PowerPoint about Cerebral Palsy was lost but I just found it today (7/19/2022)!!! YAY! Here it is: Intro to Cerebral Palsy

After the lecture, I read the first two pages of Stuck in Neutral out loud and modeled the questions that a good reader would ask.

Day 2

On Day 2, I modeled how I wanted kids to read with their reading buddies, and then I asked the kids to read chapters 1 and 2 with their buddies and make a list about challenges Shawn faces in his daily life.

When everyone was done reading, each pair shared out the challenges that they identified in the reading and we wrote them on the board. Each individual student then had to use these ideas to fill in this paragraph frame: Cerebral Palsy Paragraph Frame

Day 3-Death Conversation

I started this day by giving the kids a copy of the reading guide for chapters 3 & 4: Reading Guide for Stuck in Neutral Chapters 3 & 4. We completed the chapter 3 reading question together, and then they read the chapter with their reading buddy and completed the “Chapter 3 Post-Reading Question.”

On Day 4, we continued with the above reading guide, but I paused to give a brief lecture on indirect and direct characterization by expounding on the following two examples:

Direct characterization: Mary is lazy

Indirect characterization: Mary sat on the couch all day eating potato chips instead of doing the chores her mother asked her to do. She had the energy to do her chores but decided not to.