About the Book
“Dance, Writing, and the Indiana Dunes” is a partnership between Arts for Learning and Pine Elementary School in Michigan City, IN. The goal of this yearlong artist residency program is to increase student engagement in both the arts and academic learning. The program, which was made possible, in part, with support from the Indiana Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, focuses on using dance to help students learn about science concepts, local geography, and poetry writing. During the 2015-2016 school year, third grade students at Pine Elementary worked with Melli Hoppe, a professional choreographer and teaching artist, to learn about the elements of dance and choreography. The students took a field trip to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, where they met with a naturalist who taught them about the habitats of the dunes. Back in their classrooms, the students worked together to draft sentences about the habitats; after weeks of training and practice with Melli, the students choreographed large group dances based on their sentences. At the end of the fall semester, the students performed the dances for their classmates and their families. In the spring semester, the students wrote poems about the plant life of the Indiana Dunes. To create these poems, students worked in small groups and gained skills in cooperation and collaboration. These small groups were then tasked with choreographing dances based on their poems. At the end of the school year, the students performed these smaller group dances for a younger grade level of students. The artwork in this book represents work from the students’ visual art class. Art teacher Holly Beadles assigned printmaking and watercolor painting projects related to the Indiana Dunes throughout the year. Arts for Learning, the Indiana Affiliate of Young Audiences, is a nonprofit organization that has specialized in arts in education since 1961.