GRANT 160:

Making Mayhem!

09/28/2015

Providing students with intellectual disabilities and/or Autism with social skills training through poetry and improv.

Dina Casabianca’s passion in life is teaching. She has been teaching for 21 years, and works with 7th and 8th grade students at Southwest Middle School (Palm Bay, Florida) who have intellectual disabilities and/or Autism. While academics are an integral part of the curriculum, so are communication and social skills. It’s crucial that her students gain experience in navigating a variety of social situations, develop outside interests, learn socially appropriate behavior, and how to advocate for themselves. Because Dina has her students for multiple years, she is constantly cooking up different projects and activities to keep students excited and engaged in learning — and this is where we come in!

This November, the community’s local theatre – The King Center – will be bringing in a group called The Mayhem Poets. This traveling troupe performs spoken word, improv, stand up comedy, and dramatic readings for schools around the country. Dina has the opportunity for her students to work with the Mayhem Poets after the show in an exclusive Master Class! Her students will learn how to perform onstage, enhance their creative and critical thinking skills with improv activities, and how to turn their poetry into a spoken word performance. They will gain the confidence to make their wants, needs, and feelings known, and they will learn social skills such as timing, expression, and fluency.

To prep for this experience, Dina’s class will learn about figurative language, how to analyze poems, and how to read and write their own original poems. Her students like to perform, but they don’t always know how to. This Master Class will give students the skills to not only perform, but to also fit in better with their peers. After the class, students will expand on what they have learned by performing for seniors in assisted living and in the school talent show.

Our AWB grant will cover the costs of The Master Class, books covering the topics of poetry, theater, and improv, and tickets for the show. Click here to learn more about Southwest Middle School.