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Teaching Star Wars: From Robots to Readers

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is here! The latest installment of the historic movie franchise opens in theaters across the country this weekend.
From engaging reluctant readers to teaching on the cutting edge, DonorsChoose.org teachers have worked Star Wars into their lesson plans for years. As educators continue to come up with evermore awesome ways to teach Star Wars, thousands of students are having a blast on their way to academic success.
Here are just a few of the ingenious ways teachers have used Star Wars to help their students learn. (Spoiler: Teaching Star Wars is just as much fun as learning with it.)
Build Your Own Droid
In Pennsylvania, Mrs. Laratonda’s students are building their own droids, using special inventor kits she requested. As they build and operate their droids, her kids will learn about robotics, unleash their creativity, and practice teamwork.
Says Mrs. Laratonda: “I love it when I see the smiles on [my students] faces as they walk in the lab and ask, ‘What are we going to do today?’”
Just a guess, but when the answer is, “We’re building our own Star Wars droids.” we bet those kids get pretty excited.

Reading: The Force Awakens
Star Wars stories are published across grade-levels and are hot property among students. Our site is rife with stories of how Star Wars appeals to reluctant readers from kindergarten through high school. Ms. Brady in South Dakota is one of hundreds of teachers who’ve created a project for Star Wars books and— Oh, gosh. We’ll just let her tell it:
“Alex, a student who has struggled in reading this entire year, sat quietly at his desk. After about 15 minutes, he brought Watch Out for Jabba the Hutt over and diligently read the entire thing aloud. He needed help with a word or two on each page and continual encouragement, but the smile that spread across his face on the last page was priceless.
‘Ms. B, I’m a good reader, aren’t I?’ he said. ‘I think I am going to be a mechanic and a librarian when I grow up, because I love books so much!’”
Music in the Key of John Williams
While posting a project for new instruments, New Jersey music teacher Mr. Vargo threw a bit of The Force into the mix. He requested sheet music for John Williams’ unforgettable Star Wars theme.
In his own words: “As movies and fads come and go, it’s always nice to have lessons and songs that are relevant to what’s going on in the world around us.”

In a Galaxy Museum Far, Far Away Pretty Nearby
Colorado teacher Ms. Hinshaw saw a unique opportunity. The Denver Art Museum was hosting an exhibition of the Star Wars costumes, so she created a DonorsChoose.org project to fund a field trip to the museum. Her kids were thrilled, and the exhibit met their expectations.
“On the bus back home,” says Ms. Hinshaw, “I overheard many students planning to bring their families to the Art Museum to show them all the cool things we had seen. I think this trip did exactly what I had hoped and brought art into my students lives in a new and tangible way.”
Of course, as you can see from the picture above, her kids also studied the non-Star Wars art available to them at the museum. Go, Ms. Hinshaw!
 

Fit Like a Jedi
The Force is strong in Queens, thanks to New York teacher Mr. Andy. With “lightsabers”, sensory balls, and other learning materials, he started the Young Jedi Academy to help his students live an active lifestyle.
“Exercise, at times, is viewed as an obligation or a chore,” says Mr. Andy. “Young Jedi Academy was created with the goal of showing students that there are many different ways people stay in shape and exercise.”
Just one question, Mr. Andy. Where do we sign up?
See More Star Wars Classroom Projects

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