Artist Residency Toolkit

MIGIZI Artist Residencies: Bringing American Indian Artists and Art Making into the Classroom


What does it look like when students work alongside a professional filmmaker and storyteller/performer in the classroom?

MIGIZI Communications is dedicated to creating opportunities for all students’ voices to be heard. By bringing professional artists into the classroom, Migizi artist residencies allow students to see themselves as real media artists. Use the sample curriculum and resources outlined here to find out how you can make it possible for elementary students to use media equipment and technology to create original films while exploring their own and other’s stories.

Why collaborate with artists in the classroom?

Students and teachers:

  •  have time and space for media arts and performing work that is fun and intellectually engaging.
  • learn about and have access to media arts equipment and methods of using it.
  • engage in the history and present of American Indian life and culture in all its dimensions..

What makes an artist residency successful?

  • Teacher involvement as learners in the project.
  • Enough time for students to learn and practice the techniques and tools of actors and filmmakers.
  • Ongoing school support for collaborative planning and reflection.

The Overview for the project follows below. The lessons from the residency can be found HERE.

MIGIZI Madwe’igan (Ojibwe: a tool for being heard) 

Project Overview

Storytelling & Media Arts

Grade 3

12-15 one-hour lessons

This unit explores the ways that elementary students can use video as a tool to express stories and ideas about themselves and about subjects that they study in the classroom. It was developed through the lens of the storytelling traditions of different American Indian tribes, including Ojibwe. This unit is focused primarily on building the skills and techniques and knowledge students need to create quality films. It also addresses content to some extent, but acknowledges that there are multiple ways and subjects that students may pursue telling a specific story via film. 

Because this unit was developed with teaching artists Cochise Anderson and Tiana LaPointe, it references their artistic and professional work both in and outside of the classroom.

Unit Learning Goals:

1. Students learn how to handle and operate media equipment (cameras, mics, computers, etc.).

2. Students learn the different tasks and roles that go into creating a film, including the roles of cinematographer, director, script director, actor, etc.

3. Students understand that there are different ways to be a storyteller, and that we see and hear stories via text, oral telling, film, by acting them out in our bodies, and through music and song.

4. Students learn and practice the tools of performers (use of body, voice, imagination) in various contexts.

5. Students understand how an art form like storytelling or performance or filmmaking might communicate aspects of their culture and who they are to an audience.

Evidence of Learning:

1. Students are increasingly self-directed in operating filmmaking equipment and are able to effectively create a finished collaborative film.

2. Students take on different roles in order to create a finished film together and are able to describe what their role was and how it contributed to a finished product.

3. Students respond to stories that they read, hear, or see by re-telling the story in their own words or performance and/or by creating or performing their own stories. 

4. Students are increasingly confident in their voice and body and are able to perform live with their peers and in front of an audience.

5. Students create or contribute to an original art work that is personally compelling and of which they are proud; their audience is able to articulate specific cultural, personal, and artistic details that they liked or learned as a result of viewing the work. 

Minnesota Academic Standards addressed in this unit 

K-3 Media Arts

Strand 1. Artistic Foundations

Standard 3. Demonstrate understanding of the personal, social, cultural and historical contexts that

influence the arts areas.

Benchmark:   Identify the characteristics of works in media art from a variety of cultures including the contributions of Minnesota American Indian tribes and communities.

Strand 2. Artistic Process: Create or Make

Standard 1. Create or make in a variety of contexts in the arts area using the artistic foundations.

Benchmark    Create original media artworks to express ideas, experiences or stories.

Strand 3. Artistic Process: Perform or Present

Standard 1. Perform or present in a variety of contexts in the arts area using the artistic foundations

Benchmark 1. Share and describe a personal media artwork.

K-3 Theater

Strand 1: Artistic Foundations

Standard 2. Demonstrate knowledge and use of the technical skills of the art form, integrating technology when applicable.

Benchmark Demonstrate skills such as improvising, creating character and selecting costumes for dramatizations.

Strand 3. Artistic Process: Perform or Present

Standard 1. Perform or present in a variety of contexts in the arts area using the artistic foundations.

Benchmark Interpret and perform a variety of characters using voice, movement and props.



This activity is made possible in part by a grant provided by the Minnesota State Arts Board, through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature from the Minnesota arts and cultural heritage fund with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.

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