This documentary is about educator Eliot Battle and the pivotal role he played in desegregating schools, housing and the Columbia community. As Battle facilitated changes with quiet resolve, he faced resistance from both the black and white communities. His calm demeanor and dedicated work within existing institutions and systems allowed him to bridge the gap between the two races and change Columbia for the better.

About the guide

Change from WithinThis study guide presents questions and activities that can be used in school settings to enrich viewers' experience of the documentary. They are aligned with the Common Core State Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies and the Common Core State Writing Standards for Literacy and History/Social Studies. These standards have been adopted by 45 states. Learn more about the Common Core Standards, see Standards.pdf.

In addition, these questions and activities are aligned with the following National Thematic Standards for Teachers of Social Studies:

  • Culture and Cultural Diversity
  • Time, Continuity and Change
  • People, Places and Environments
  • Individual Development and Identity
  • Power, Authority and Governance
  • Civic Ideals and Practices

Questions and activities

Choose from the list of questions and activities, depending upon the grade level viewing the film and the time allotment. Questions and activities are appropriate for 6th- to 12th-graders, as well as for those in postsecondary settings.

Leadership and engagement
  1. What is leadership to you? What examples of leadership did you see in this film?
  2. What are some of the leadership characteristics that Dr. Battle embodied?
  3. What was the philosophy guiding Dr. Battle's decisions? How did it help him impact change?
  4. What did it mean to be a bridge person or to "stand in the gap?"
  5. Dr. Battle talked about "change from within." What do you think that means?
  6. What civil rights work still needs to occur in your community? What lessons in civic leadership can be learned from Dr. Battle?
  7. How can you impact change in your community?
  1. How did the Columbia community's acceptance of desegregation compare with community reaction in Arkansas?
  2. How did the experience of the Battle family compare to societal events that occurred in Missouri and across the United States in the 1960s?
  3. What were some challenges experienced by the Battle children as they integrated schools in Columbia?
  4. How might Dr. Battle be compared to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?
  5. Segregation was a way to keep people of different races apart. How has the situation changed?
  6. This DVD discussed one type of diversity — race. What are other types of diversity? What diversity exists in your community?
  1. What biases or prejudices do I have about those who are different from me?
    • What messages have I received — verbal or nonverbal — from home, school, community or society about those who are different from me?
    • How do I act based on these verbal and nonverbal messages?
    • How do I keep these feelings from interfering with my work, social life or other responsibilities?
  2. What have I said or done "in innocence" that I later learned hurt or harmed someone else?
  3. Dr. Battle and his family took many risks in the early years. What risks have I taken that have made a difference in my life or in the life of others?
  4. When have I experienced being in the minority? How did I deal with this situation?
  5. What obstacles or barriers have I overcome that have made me feel most proud?
  6. What gifts or talents do I possess that might be used to add value to the world?
  7. How can I be an agent for change?
  8. How do I feel when I give back to others?


  1. Identify a problem in your community, and develop a public policy or plan of action to help to resolve the issue.
  2. Write from this prompt: Dr. Eliot Battle once said, "I believe that every generation needs to bypass the previous generation."
  3. Define terms such as redlining, orator, segregation, Brown v. Board of Education. Study the history of your school system.
  4. Write a biography about a local hero.
  5. Create an oral history of your community by interviewing local heroes. Integrate technology into your project and prepare to present it.
  6. Create a movie using pictures to tell a story about change.
  7. Invite someone from the community to the class to tell their story about how they created a change for the better.
Pertinent common core state reading standards for literacy in history/social studies
  • Read closely to determine what a historical text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
  • Determine central ideas or themes of a historical text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
  • Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a historical text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
  • Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a historical text.
  • Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
  • Analyze how two or more historical texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
Pertinent common core state writing standards for literacy in history/social studies
  • Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of social/historical topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
  • Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex social/historical ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
  • Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
  • Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
  • Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
  • 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.

Curriculum guide committee members

  • Julie Middleton, director of organizational development, University of Missouri Extension
  • Barbara Williamson, associate teaching professor, Department of Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology, University of Missouri College of Education
  • Mary Jo Williams, associate state specialist, 4-H Center for Youth Development, University of Missouri Extension
  • Nick Kramer, Social Studies Department, Columbia Public Schools
  • Eryca Neville, principal, Douglass High School, Columbia Public Schools
  • Abbey Trescott, art teacher, Rock Bridge High School, Columbia Public Schools