Saturday, August 18, 2012

PBL: an Example from Fiction

My daughter and I read a book together this summer as part of her summer reading requirements. Dancing on the Inside is the story of a twelve year old girl who is afraid to start her first class, but feels a passion for dance inside her heart.

Jenny bravely sticks with the ballet class - not as a dancer, but as an observer. She watches the classes and then practices what she sees at home and with her dancer friend, Ara. Jenny discovers a love of choreography while trying to help Ara control her energetic dance style.

This is where light bulbs started going off in my head. Here we have Jenny, a girl suffering from social phobia who is able to follow her passion and learn while working on a project. Jenny and Ara work together to craft a beautiful story ballet, eventually convincing their dance studio to stage the performance. Jenny throws herself wholeheartedly into the choreography, learning a lot about dance and herself in the process. She learns that the process is long and hard, but the work is rewarding.

The end product: Jenny's ballet is received with much praise by her audience, including the local media. Tie in to PBL: Jenny's project was shared with the world. It was REAL. It wasn't a practice project stuck in a binder.

I don't want to spoil more of the book - so please look it up for yourself. In fact, I would recommend this book to all new teachers and those who are interested in PBL. It's a short, quick read, but it maps out PBL in such a natural way that I found it quite inspirational. My daughter put the book down 3/4 of the way in to grab paper and pencils. Her mind was already at work with ideas of her own. Jenny inspired her to follow her passions.

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