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In an age of information, high stakes testing, standards based learning and meeting AYP, we are forgetting to teach the whole child. The arts are the first to get cut when a budget needs trimming and yet are the most valuable to our rearing of whole children. They teach our students invaluable lessons in determination, team work and communication. They allow us to think critically about the world around us, pose difficult questions, and find our own place in the world.

Assessment of the arts is difficult and the outcome of their teaching is not immediate, but that is the point. Education in the arts stays with you, it is long term, it buries itself into the guts of who you are as an individual striving to succeed in an ever changing society.

Teachers need to find the times and places in their classrooms to make the arts a vital part of their day. This type of education, where arts are taught both for their own value as well as integrated into other disciplines, brings out the innovation, creativity, thoughtfulness and depth of learning that no other can.

I am not an artist, can I do this?
Yes you can! Teachers with or without a structured artistic background can integrate the arts into their curriculum. You do not need to be proficient in music theory or have taken a class in drawing 101. Your goals in integration may not be the same as that of an arts teacher. All you have to do is enjoy the arts, be willing to learn a few basics and have an open mind about it as you try new things. It is so easy and beneficial to you and your students. The bottom line is, if you enjoy the arts and enjoy teaching, you can do this!
What is Arts Integration?
Arts integration is a way to incorporate the arts into your already existing curriculum. Some people look at it as a way to capture their students’ interest or to rejuvenate their teaching of something they’ve done for years. Others see it as a natural process where teachers provide opportunities for their students to express themselves and challenge themselves creatively as they learn and reinforce concepts within the curriculum.

The KEY to quality arts integration is to stay true to both the integrity of the curriculum you are teaching AND to the art form you are using in your classroom.

What is true integration?
True integration means that you are focusing on both the art form and the curriculum; both have equal importance. When this happens, two things occur. First, the curriculum is being taught, developed or reinforced. Secondly, the students are learning about the art form as they experience it, use it and interpret it.
What are the goals of arts integration?
  • To allow teachers who may or may not be artistic the opportunity to use the arts in their classroom in a comfortable manner.
  • To allow the teacher to integrate the arts in a way that enhances the curriculum they must teach while keeping the integrity of the art form.
  • To allow the teacher and students to experience and share the arts together.
  • To allow students to think about the arts in relation to other fields of study, seeing how the arts touch our lives as human beings.
  • To allow students to reflect on their artistic experiences using their intellect and emotion.
  • To allow students to express their ideas through individual interpretation and creativity.
  • To promote oral language skills, community and individuality.
What art skills do I need in order to do a quality job?
As you being to integrate the arts into your classroom, you may want to stick with an art form with which you are more familiar whether it be writing poetry or sculpting with popsicle sticks. In time, you may want to learn some new skills. For example, you may want to pick up a book on basic drawing principles or ask your musical friend what tempo means. Just as with anything else you decide to do or use in your classroom, as you work with arts integration and become more comfortable with what you are doing, your repertoire of ideas, activities and skills will increase.
Why should I use arts integration in the classroom?
Plain and simple, students of all ages love to express their ideas and themselves with art. If you enjoy the arts, why wouldn’t you use it in your classroom? Some people think it may be a waste of time, but it can’t be. If you allow your students the opportunity to use the arts in your classroom, you are giving them something special. It’s similar to taking students on a field trip. You give them experiences outside of the regular “norm” and build upon those experiences.
How may arts integration help my students?
It is amazing to see what the arts can do for students. It opens up their minds, it motivates them and it exposes them to great things beyond what they and their parents expect them to get out of school. I have received countless positive comments from parents about the use of the arts, especially music, in my classroom. Because of true integration, the names and music of Chopin and Scott Joplin, Vivaldi and Peggy Lee have become common topics of conversation. This is not done overnight, and like any other part of a curriculum, integrating the arts into your curriculum will take planning and effort. However, the benefits of truly integrating the arts into your classroom is priceless. Students are continuously captivated by what they are doing because they are sharing their own insights, ideas and creativity in a safe learning environment – your classroom!