Jackie Rotman - VOLUNTEER | Not in Our Town

Jackie Rotman - VOLUNTEER

Grade Level: 
Middle School (6-8)
High School (9-12)


During a dance performance on stage, Jackie Rotman's music suddenly stopped. In response, members of the audience joined Jackie on stage and began dancing to show their support. Expanding on the idea that dance can help foster a positive atmosphere, Jackie began providing hip-hop classes free of charge to youth that would not otherwise be able to afford them.

Now with 10 chapters across the country, Everybody Dance Now! is a nonprofit organization that aims to transform the lives of youth through dance, leadership, and community.

This lesson addresses the following Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) strategies. You can have students look for these issues and examine them in themselves.

  • Self-awareness: Jackie Rotman realized her leadership and dance skills and integrated them to bring about Everybody Dance Now!
  • Self-management: In response to a technical glitch in music during her dance performance, Jackie Rotman invited audience members on stage to express themselves through dance.
  • Social awareness: Everybody Dance Now! helps build the self-esteem of youth by bringing them the resources, training and people needed to explore the joy of dancing and of self-expression.
  • Relationship skills: Jackie Rotman organized her friends and community members to dedicate themselves to Everybody Dance Now!.
  • Responsible decision-making: Dancers are choosing to engage in creative forms of self-expression and are less likely to engage in risky behaviors or get pulled in unhealthy directions.

1.  Prior to showing the video, briefly explain the primary themes of the video. Use some or all of the following questions (include at least one writing prompt):

  • Can you think of the last time your community got together to do something fun together? What was it and how did it make you feel?
  • What makes a good leader? What are ways that young people can be leaders?
  • Do you think it helps to share your skills and knowledge with those who are younger than you? Why or why not?

2.  After watching the video, engage students in a dialogue about the film using some or all of the following questions (include at least one writing prompt):

  • How do you think Jackie was changed as a result of her volunteer efforts?
  • One girl said that dance helped her “stay out of trouble.” What do you think she meant? What kind of implications does this pose on the kinds of activities that should be made available to kids?
  • Do you think dance is a valuable thing to be taught? Why or why not?
  • Can you think of other things like dance that are fun and expressive, and can bring communities together?

Extension Activities

  1. Have students research community organizations in their town and find out how they can volunteer or do community service. Have them make a resource list of the organizations with contact information and a description of how to get involved.
  2. Ask students to think back to a turning point in their lives to an event that transformed them. Have them write a narrative paper about what that event was, how it changed them and why. In their papers ensure they address how they can use transformative events to be better leaders.
  3. Students can learn a lot from elders in their lives. Ask students to collect pictures from their grandparents and parents. Have the students get the background stories to their favourite photographs and then act them out for the class. They can choose to collaborate with their classmates to act out their photographs or on their own.
  4. Another way to engage in the community is to go to a senior home or senior community organization to share and lead activities. It is always great to have student collect stories from their elders. Another suggestion is to have students try out different intergenerational activities from PennState’s Intergenerational Sourcebook. Concentric circles (found on page 12) might be a good warm-up game at an elder-care home. You can also suggest different activities from the book to students and then encourage them to come up with their own activities. Have the students report back to the class about their experience of interacting with other generations and age groups. What did they learn? Was it valuable? How do they think we can encourage more intergenerational interactions in our community?

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