Arts integration for any classroom

Teachers who are looking for ways to get their students engaged in thinking critically have another creative teaching option.

It’s called integrated arts, and it increases student achievement – by as much as 10%.

Students are better able to express themselves, they are more engaged in class, and they are less likely to be retained.

Rather than teach arts in isolation, schools have discovered real power in integrating the arts in core content areas. Best of all, you don’t have to be an art teacher to make it happen.

The arts encourage experiential learning

Many students find themselves drawn to the arts.

Music, dancing, drawing, painting, sculpting, and acting offer a different way of engaging with subjects. The real power of arts integration, however, lies in experience. The arts require that its participants experience content and interpret it to better understand subjects. The arts are the vehicle for communication.

Artistic creation invites curiosity, exploration, and calculated risk-taking. It also produces joy, especially for students who might otherwise not enjoy a subject.

To bring arts into the classroom, encourage your students to use their strengths in the visual and performing arts. Get them to make connections with the content you teach. Encourage your students to

  • Draw geographical or topographical maps
  • Create a pop music math video
  • Write a description
  • Build a costume
  • Design a coat of arms
  • Act out a critical scene from history

Full STEAM ahead

The arts make science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) more cohesive because the arts provide an innovative way to explore subjects formerly taught in isolation.

In a STEM + Arts classroom (STEAM), students engage in critical thinking as they follow their curiosity and collaborate with others. Perhaps most importantly, STEAM classes show students a new way to find value in artistic expression. The arts are a complement to STEM classes because they encourage communication through self-expression.

Without communication, STEM exists in isolation. Students must share their discoveries.

There are many ways to integrate the arts in STEM, including:

  • Writing journal entries as a patient who presents at the doctor’s office.
  • Create a comic strip using chemistry lab equipment as the characters.
  • Develop a dialogue between mathematicians discussing quantitative results from data collection.
  • Sketching drawings of from the invention process.
  • Preparing visual presentations for audiences.

Initiating integrated arts in your school

Teachers who are ready to integrate the arts into their content areas may find these strategies useful:

  • Create a vision of what the arts-integrated classroom looks like. Then take it schoolwide.
  • Attend professional development that will enrich your instruction and validate arts integration in your classroom.
  • Find a co-collaborator. New initiatives can be risky and exhausting. Have a partner with whom to share ideas can be energizing for you both, and you might inspire others to join you.

Too often the arts are being cut from school programs. The integrated arts are a way to bring art back to the classroom and let them flourish. Your students will be excited about the opportunity to create art.

You will, too.

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