Life Happens Next

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Stuck in Neutral, a Printz Honor Book, introduced the world to Shawn McDaniel, a fourteen-year-old kid with cerebral palsy. But what happens next?

Shawn's got a new perspective on life. But no one has a clue. That's because they can see only his wheelchair, his limp body, his drool. What they don't see? His brain, with perfect auditory memory. And his heart, which is in love with a girl. And his fierce belief that someday someone will realize there's way more to him than his appearance.

How do you connect with others when you can't talk, walk, or even wave hello? In the sequel to Stuck in Neutral, which ALA Booklist called "an intense reading experience," Shawn McDaniel discovers a new definition of "normal" and finds that life happens next for everyone.

Curriculet Details
20 Questions
20 Annotations
3 Quizzes

This free digital curriculum for high school students contains interactive videos exploring cerebral palsy and how people react to individuals with developmental disabilities as well as annotations describing what life is like for people with cerebral palsy or Down syndrome as well as what life is like for the people who take care of developmentally disabled individuals. Students will explore the themes of what gives life meaning and how to keep a positive attitude when everything in life seems to be going badly. The Common Core aligned questions, answers, and quizzes in this free online unit will increase student engagement in the book while supporting reading comprehension.

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Chapter 1

This story is going to be told from a first person point of view. In this particular text, the point of view is extremely important. Watch the video below about point of view. Then as you read the book, think about how the story in different scenes would be different if told from another character's point of view or if told from a third person point of view. You will clearly see the importance point of view plays in this novel.  (This annotation contains a video)
You will gain an understanding of cerebral palsy from Shawn. You can also learn what it like to have a less severe case of CP by reading Keith's story below. After reading Keith's experience, think about what similarities and differences exist in Shawn's and Keith's stories. (This annotation contains a link)
Shawn makes a case for being quite different from everyone else, but he also makes a case for being the same as everyone else. Summarize key similarities and differences between Shawn and yourself. Use the information in the text to help you develop your summary. 

Chapter 2

Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently.... Is there a word on this page you need to look up? 
Shawn has a point when he says we are living in an interesting time, medical science-wise. There is ongoing research to find ways to treat and cure cerebral palsy. You can read about some of those organizations and treatments here. Think about if any of those organizations or treatments might be part of Shawn's future. (This annotation contains a link)

Chapter 3

Hearing Shawn say he woke up lying in a crib might be a jarring, unexpected statement. Why do you think he is in a crib? Be sure to use what you know about Shawn to answer the question in detail. 

Chapter 4

Sadly, having a family member with a severe disability can be a huge financial burden on families. A wheelchair accessible van like Shawn's mother drives probably costs $40,00, possibly much more. Look over the information on the website below to learn just how involved it is to buy a specially equipped vehicle like this.  (This annotation contains a link)
Why was Shawn mad at the driver of the pickup truck? 

Chapter 6

Use the dictionary feature available in Curriculet to see possible definitions for the word "malignant." Then decide which word below would be a good antonym for the way "malignant" is used in this sentence. 
Watch the video below for the song "Don't Laugh at Me." Also listen closely to the lyrics. Then think about how the words to this song apply to the scene you just read in this chapter. (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter 8

Debi's speech is written in dialect, which is the use of spelling, sounds, and punctuation to represent the actual speech of the character. Why do you think the author chooses to write Debi's dialogue in dialect? 

Chapter 9

Stanford University is one of this country's premiere universities. Check out their website and then think about whether or not this might be a university you would like to attend when you graduate from high school. (This annotation contains a link)
Re-read what Ally says about Debi and Shawn. Do you think she is being kind? Explain your answer using what you know of the characters so far. 

Chapter 10

You can learn more about Cesar Millan and his show Dog Whisperer at the website below. Think about whether or not Rusty might need some help from this world-famous dog trainer. (This annotation contains a link)

Chapter 11

What might you infer from the part of the conversation you just read? 
Quiz Chapters 1 - 11 

Chapter 12

Below is the trailer for the movie Rain Man. Watch the video to make sense out of the allusions to the movie the characters make. (This annotation contains a video)
Why would Shawn contemplate if he would be better off dead? 

Chapter 13

A quinceaƱero is a young man's version of a quinceaƱera, which is a cultural celebration held when a young lady turns fifteen. Read about the tradition of this party and compare it to Shawn's party. Are there any similarities? (This annotation contains a link)
Even though there are all these good things for Shawn, he still feels unhappy. What might be one reason why he feels unhappy? 

Chapter 14

The song mentioned by Shawn is one of the most iconic songs from the movie musical The Sound of Music. You can see the scene from the movie and hear the song in the video below. What about the song might be so irritating to Shawn? (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following is one thing that has NOT changed since Debi moved in? 

Chapter 15

Shawn's doctor is using a reflex hammer, also called a reflex mallet. You can see what this instrument looks like. Do you think it would hurt to have a doctor use this instrument to test your reflexes? (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 16

Why does Shawn say that Rusty is a real friend? 

Chapter 17

How much do YOU think you know about people who have Down Syndrome? Read the myths and facts at the site below to see how much you understand. (This annotation contains a link)

Chapter 18

What is the most likely reason Shawn's mother is so upset that her family albums have been cut up? 

Chapter 19

Children are told starting at a very young age to call 911 in case of an emergency, but what really constitutes an emergency? Read the guidelines below about when to call 911. Did you have the correct understanding of what constitutes an emergency? (This annotation contains a link)
Explain what the police officer means when he says Shawn's mother has "...quite a handful here." Be sure to use specific information from the text to illustrate your meaning. 

Chapter 20

The description of the "meal" Shawn just provided is an example of hyperbole. Read the definition below and then determine how his statement fits the definition. (This annotation contains a link)

Chapter 21

It is at this point that the author tells the reader that Shawn is dreaming, but you probably suspected he was dreaming or having a seizure before you were told this. Choose the statement below that is NOT one way the author hints that Shawn is dreaming. 

Chapter 22

Quiz Chapters 12 - 22 
Shawn has no idea what a profound statement he has just made. Numerous studies have been done to show just how important touch is to us as human beings. Read more about the benefits of touch, then think about how we use touch as a means of communication. (This annotation contains a link)

Chapter 23

This is actually an example of a literary device called flashback. Using the context of what you just read, what do you think a flashback is? 

Chapter 24

Shawn has referred to himself as a "veg" more than once. The term is actually considered derogatory, meaning that the person has the intelligence and activity level of a vegetable. Since it is considered insulting, it is surprising that Shawn uses it to refer to himself. Why do you think he does that? 
Which statement below is likely NOT a reason Debi knows how Shawn feels? 

Chapter 26

Shawn has many seizures related to his condition. You can read more about the types of seizures he has at the site below. What needs to be done if you are with someone who has a seizure? (This annotation contains a link)

Chapter 27

You have probably sensed that something is wrong, although you don't know what it is yet. Which of the following is NOT one of the clues that something is wrong? 

Chapter 28

What was Rusty doing? Was he mourning Debi's death? Was he responding to Shawn's grief? Was he just acting like a dog? Read the article below for a brief discussion on how dogs react to death then decide for yourself what you think Rusty was doing. (This annotation contains a link)

Chapter 29

Do you agree or disagree with what Shawn's mom said about the value of a person's life impacting how we feel about that person's death? Use details from the book as well as examples from real life to explain your opinion. 

Chapter 31

Author Joseph Campbell once said, "Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer." Do you agree with this statement? Do you think Shawn would agree with this statement? 
What could the tree Shawn just described be a metaphor for? 

Chapter 32

Quiz Chapters 23 - 32 
Choose one of the possible themes for this novel listed below. Then explain how this novel illustrates the theme using details from the book.Things are not always as they seem.Love comes in many forms.Communication happens in many ways.The power of love.Trying to understand the meaning of life.