Arts Ambassador Presentation Site: Minneapolis

A total of 6 metro area youth with disabilities and 25 of their peers, in grade 4, and five teachers at Dowling Urban Environment School participated in a presentation and hands-on activity by VSA Minnesota’s Arts Ambassador Leslye Orr. She is a playwright, performer and teacher with an extensive background in theater. After students read Leslye’s children’s book “The People on the Corner,” which centers on five neighborhood friends who learn how good neighbors can include everyone. Students were encouraged to write/draw their own idea of an inclusive game. During her visit she led students in hands-on imagination games that promoted engagement, inclusivity and diversity. They also had a chance to play a student-created game with the goal of teamwork and including everyone in their group.

Artist-in-Residence Site:  Bridges Transition Program
13735 Round Lake Blvd. Suite 110, Andover (Con. Dist. 6)

Collaborating Teacher: Lisa Vogel
Teaching Artist: Christopher Lutter-Gardella
Art form: Puppet Theater

Project Overview
During the residency, students explored the elements that led to developing and performing an original play using puppets. They developed an understanding of Puppet Theater by designing and building their own puppet character. Students worked collaboratively with peers, staff and the artist through creative theater activities to develop their individual characters. In addition, they learned that puppeteers use puppets to tell stories by creating their own story and dialogue with their puppets.  Students fostered their collaborative and imaginative skills by participating in creative play with their puppets including: improvisation, storytelling, physical and vocal characterizations. Friends and family were invited to see the final performance on the last day of the residency.

Project Highlights
“Students built communication and cooperative skills by working in small groups to construct a small scene. Changes in participants include one of the students who is very quite became more animated while others struggled with nerves.” – Lisa Vogel, Teacher.

“They showed great enthusiasm, as the project progressed-- particularly once their puppets took-on life. Many students showed surprising progress through the course of the 10 days-- They seemed to open-up and show their hidden brilliance! One student didn't show on the day of the performance-- reportedly due to his anxiety around performing. Students were very encouraging and supportive of one another.” – Chris Lutter-Gardella, Artist.

Teaching & Learning Arts Bridge Begins

This is a project to build skills through the Arts 

in students with disabilities and collaborative skills in 

Teaching Artists and Teachers in Special Education settings.

This program is provided under a contract with the 

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

VSA Minnesota's Teaching & Learning Arts Bridge is designed to support collaboration between Host Teachers and Teaching Artists and support Teachers’ efforts to integrate the Arts in the curriculum while engaging students in meaningful, high quality arts learning experiences. Seven sites around the state, which include more than 180 students and 30 teachers, will work with a Teaching Artist and an Assistant during a 10-session artist residency. Host Teachers and Teaching Artists Teams have begun co-planning their residency this month during a professional development in-service led by Perpich Center for Arts Education staff. Stay tuned for the progress of each site below:

801 Davis St., St. Peter, MN 56082
Host Teacher: Kelsey Hutchins, Work Experience Coordinator
Teaching Artist: Juana Arias, Arts Center of Saint Peter
Description: Students will learn about being a commissioned artist, public art, the process and techniques to create and install a tile mural in a public space. These activities will address team appropriate, social interactions, share ideas, resolve conflicts, problem solving, coping strategies and working with tools.

6601 Xylon Ave N., Brooklyn Park, MN 55428
Host Teacher: Brian Burns, Focus Special Education Teacher
Teaching Artist: Jamie Winter Dawson, Visual Artist
Description: Students will learn about what it looks like to be an artist within the Twin Cities. They will visit professional artist studios and create art using the same materials demonstrated. These activities will address focusing on the process from the beginning to end—setting a goal, project management and how to navigate problems.

6675 50th St N, Oakdale, MN 55128
Host Teacher: Susan Rensted, 3rd Grade Teacher
Teaching Artist: Lindsay McCaw, Theater and Visual Artist
Description: Students will learn about the process and techniques to create a painted mural. These activities will address building community, what it means to stand up to bully and how to stand up for each other, taking turns, following directions, and sequencing.

403 Jackson St, Suite 206, Anoka, MN  55303 
Host Teacher: Terri Breems, Special Education Teacher
Teaching Artist: Anne Krocak, Public Artist
Description: Students will learn how to create a clay tile and the mosaic process or create a concrete sculpture from start to finish.  These activities will address develop coping strategies, exploring and being aware of a leisure activity, and participating in an activity that gives back to the community.  

2701 30th St. NE, Willmar, MN 56201
Host Teacher: Chad Owens, EBD Teacher
Teaching Artist: Nikki Bettcher-Erickson, Actor, Director, Theater Artist
Description: Students will learn how to create a documentary video that will address these three questions: Where have I been? What can I do? Where am I going? These activities will address transition/work skills, goal setting and social skills.  

919 Northern Ave, Fergus Falls, MN 56537
Host Teacher: Barb Zempel, Special Education Teacher
Teaching Artist: Carol Anne Hough, Playwright
Description: Students will learn about theater (how to use voice, movement and props) and wetland animals when they rehearse and perform the play “Wetland Adventures.”  These activities will address movement, vocabulary, social skills and trying new and challenging activities.

600 E Harvey Street, Ely, MN 55731
Host Teacher: Amanda Solum, Special Education Teacher
Teaching Artist: Nicole Selmer, Papermaking, Printing, Bookmaking
Description: Students will learn the process of silkscreen printing, tools and ongoing evaluation. These activities will address self-advocacy, sequencing and organization skills.

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