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Giant Spirit Space Spiders, Homeschooling, and Project Based Learning

A little over a week ago, my son delivered this invitation to me.

He had been talking about a Star Wars play for months. Now he was ready to act on it.

I was off work, so I was ready to get (very very) involved!

I wanted him to have fun, see his vision happen, and go through the entire process of a theatrical performance.

Because the project has all of the elements of project-based learning AND arts integration (and because Star Wars is awesome), I decided to outline the how the project follows the PBL guidelines and then provide details so that you can follow the steps and create your own project.

Gold Standard Project Design Elements

1. Challenging problem or question

2. Authenticity

3. Student Voice and Choice

4. Sustained inquiry

5. Reflection

6. Critique and Revision

7. Public Product

1. Challenging Problem or Question

If I were turning this into a lesson plan, I would probably have a question similar to this: "How can we create our own Star Wars play?" We never said those exact words, but throughout the process, this was the underlying question.

2. Authenticity

In practice, "authenticity" means the project isn't forced and will be presented and seen on a larger scale than the class or, in this case, the cousins. The original plan was the present the play to my sister and grandma on a Thursday afternoon. The cousins got sick, so my son decided the play would happen on Father's Day and be his present for his grandpa (my dad). The authenticity created some tears!

3. Student Voice and Choice

"The Revenge of the Clones" (ta-da! The name!) was almost entirely "student" voice and choice! Falcon (7) sat down with me and outlined the entirety of the play, he told me the costumes he wanted, and he made changes as we went along.

4. Sustained Inquiry

The fun part! How do you do sustained inquiry into Star Wars? You watch ALL the movies, make all the Lego microfighters, play Legos Star Wars games, and sing Weird Al songs. Because this project arose from Falcon's previous immersion in the Star Wars universe, the inquiry had been going on for at least a year before the project. The difference in the two types of inquiry: once the project had started, we were both more intentional in how we watched the movies and in our attention to details.

Side note: this, to me, is one of the most important parts of PBL and one of the most difficult in the classroom.

5-6. Reflection and Revision

Theatre makes these two steps easy. All rehearsals are studies in reflection and on-the-spot revision. We revised the script multiple times based on readings and rehearsals. Once we realized we needed to be indoors for the initial scroll but outdoors to fight spirit space spiders, we revised the staging. The multiple costume changes created last minute script changes, and, finally, a marauding rooster in the yard forced us to entirely move our fight area DURING the play!

6. Public Product

After a delicious Father's Day dinner of lamb and rosemary potatoes, we performed for two aunts, an uncle, and the grandparents. Once the play is fully edited and put online, it will be an entirely public product.

Within the week, I'll post the details of each step to show HOW this all happened (because, in the end, that's what matters when creating a project).

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