The other day I held a short workshop in my school district on arts integration.  I called it a kick stART because it was a chance to learn or remember what it means to truly integrate the arts as well as learn and share  ideas for how to do that.  We looked at various art forms, discussed how we could use them in our teaching, looked at a lesson plan template that equated the objectives for the art and the content area and even started to look at the arts standards in our district to get our minds on what types of objectives we could include in our arts integrated lessons.

The highlight of the session was when I asked a group of volunteers to create a collection of tableaus inspired by a Norman Rockwell painting called “Swatter’s Rights“.  The teachers really got into studying the painting as they discussed which part they would all play.  One portrayed the old man, one the boy, another the cat and the fourth was the fly swatter.  They froze themselves into a reenactment of the picture and while in pose, I asked them questions.  “How do you feel?”  “What are you doing?”  This was a way of showing how in acting a part, students can dive deep into a character analysis before even putting a pencil to paper.  The actors were then asked to create the scene before and then after this, each in tableau.  We had created an entire story: beginning, middle and end, through visual art and drama.  (For more ideas on integrating the works of Norman Rockwell, check out my ebook.)

Other teachers then chimed in with some things that they have done.  A music teacher talked about a unit she created where her students integrated visual pieces of artwork with the study of major and minor modes.  A fourth grade teacher shared her ideas about using art techniques as a way for students to learn and clarify the meanings and spellings of homophones.  A teacher of a mixed class of first and second graders shared some of the wonderful projects she has done that integrated jazz and art techniques with writing response and art creation with the study of square numbers.

In our short time of 1 1/2 hours, our brains were cranking with ideas, including mine.  One teacher summed it up when she said to me after the session, “I feel like I needed that to give myself permission to do more things like that.  I need to take more risks.”

Plain and simple, we can’t go wrong with arts integration when you keep certain things in mind:

  • Keep to the integrity of the art form.  Be careful not to only use the arts as an add on or afterthought.
  • Start with and follow your passions.  When you start with an art form that you love, you are most likely to do it, succeed and try something more.
  • Remember: it’s all about making connections and creating experiences for and with your students.

When the arts come alive in your classroom, great things start to happen.  Trust yourself and try it!

So, go ahead, give yourself a kick stART, a sort of “kick in the pants” and dive into some arts integration.

For more posts, information and ideas on Getting Started with Arts Integration, follow the link or click on the tag in the sidebar.