How Do I Use Arts Integration in the Classroom?
When I was a little girl, I spent a lot of time playing out on the east porch of our huge old house. Usually, I pretended I was a princess. I’d drape a towel over my head and promenade around the porch and make my castle under the ping pong table.
As you can tell, I am a naturally creative person. Are you? I bet so. In fact, all of us are to some extent. Although I have one friend who says she doesn’t have a creative bone in her body. She thinks if you are creative it means you easily draw a life-like picture, can sing an aria, tap dance or sculpt with clay.
I feel badly for her when she says this, because she is very creative! She is an excellent cook and has a beautiful decorated home. However even with those talents, she doesn’t think she’s creative.
That’s a real pity in my book. Had she learned through arts integration when she was a student, I think she would see how creative she really is.
What is Arts Integration?
What is arts integration? Simply put according to Scholastic.com it is, “Arts integration is the use of the arts in core curriculum classrooms. When used well, arts integration is seamless — the interplay between the art and subject is fluid as one flows into the other.”
When I was a youngster, my favorite part of reading class was the projects we would do after reading the book. I loved drawing a picture about the book. Sometimes I didn’t even finish the book, I wanted to draw so badly. Ha!
As I began researching the arts integration subject, one that is very dear to me, I wanted some research to back my thesis. My Masters in Education is in arts integration. Integrating the arts in to a lesson comes naturally for me.
What skills does arts integration learning nurture in your class?
- Test scores increase
- Classroom engagement intensifies
- Teacher effectiveness increase
- 21st century life skills are developed
- Students’ innate abilities are unleashed
- Creativity permeates each subject
What else can arts integration do?
Engagement: Arts integration facilitates personal motivation to learn through problem
solving, and strengthens best practices in teaching as a result of increased student
Collaboration: Participation in arts integration practice promotes learning partnerships
that evolve through respectful relationships that value the strengths of each individual.
Agility: Learners are engaged in rigorous arts integration practice that teaches flexibility,
embraces change, and invites multiple perspectives.
Knowledge Construction: Arts integration is relevant to the learner as it promotes and
supports the use of critical thinking skills and inquiry.
Congruence: Effective arts integration practice upholds deliberate alignment between
academic content and the arts.
Integrity: Mindful synthesis of arts and content learning promotes best practices in arts
integration, which hold true to the art form(s).
Insight: Best practices in arts integration embrace the symbiotic relationships between
ideas, content and the arts.
Skillful assessment: Mindfully designed authentic evaluation of content, process and
product in arts integration ensures that all levels of learning are synthesized, transferred
and applied through art to relevant and related academic concepts.
Resiliency: Arts integration learning experiences foster healthy risk-taking through personal growth, transformation, and empowerment.
Visionary Leadership: Confident leadership, demonstrated through collaboration, communication, and consistency, facilitates arts integration practice that is transformational to a learning community. It teaches growth mindset, too. Check out this blog post about my thoughts on growth mindset: Growth Mindset in the Study of Famous Theater Artists
Arts Integration Ideas in the Core Subjects
“Okay” you say, “but how do I use it in my social studies classroom?”
If it’s drama you want to incorporate, a really easy way is to read a readers theater script of the subject you are teaching. For instance, if you are teaching about Nigeria, you could incorporate a Nigerian folk tale. Or if it’s the Civil War, create a radio play of a particular moment in the Civil War. Talk about immersion!
Maybe it’s a math class and you want to integrate art into the lesson. Maybe the students are challenged to create a multiplication problem in a design which also shows the answer, but unobtrusively.
Not many people think about this–when you approach the learning through the arts, students are relaxed and don’t feel the pressure of “I have to learn this right now and it has to be perfect.” By applying arts into the learning, it gives students an opportunity to sort of live with the learning concept. I promise, they will remember the concept much better if you apply the arts. Even the most challenged student will have success because the arts allow for differentiation so easily.
Arts Ingration Lesson
In my DramamommaSpeaks store, I many lessons and units which a teacher could incorporate into their arts integration collection. Recently, I created a unit on the Zuni legend, The Maidens of the Corn. It was a fascinating experience.
- Two warm ups–one physical and one imaginative, both boost energy
- Original version of the Legend of Corn Maidens–great for comparison and contrast
- Teacher’s script–what I say and how I say it!
- Advice in directing reader’s theater
- Blocking plot for performance
- Kachina Dolls Information
- Who are the Zuni people?
- Eleven page script with roles for 20+
- Original song reminiscent of the Zuni music
- Sheet music (optional for performance)
- Sound bytes of music
- Enrichment activities–designing a costume, designing a set, study of other Native American creation myths or a drama exercise using tableaux
This is a good example of arts integration in the social studies classroom. In time, I plan to create more arts integration lessons for teachers, so do look for those.
Do you have a suggestion of a lesson you’d like created? I create lessons for teachers if they request them. I really enjoy this, because I see immediate results as the teacher uses the lesson and I take any suggestions they may have or we work it together. It’s awesome.
What arts integration have used in your classroom? I’d love to hear. Contact me at DhcBaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net