So, what is Arts Integration in education?
“Arts Integration is an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Students engage in a creative process which connects an art form and another subject area and meets evolving objectives in both.”
According to The Kennedy Center, Arts as Curriculum are the arts programs that many schools offer: music, drama, dance, theater and are offered for students to develop knowledge and skills in a particular art form guided by national, state, or local standards for each of the art forms.
In Arts-Integrated Curriculum, the arts become the approach to teaching and the vehicle for learning. Students are engaged in dual learning objectives as they engage in the creative process to explore connections between art forms and other subject areas to gain greater cross-cutting understandings. The experience is mutually reinforcing and results in deeper meaning-making in both the arts and other curricular areas. Arts-Integration requires that educators engage in professional learning about arts standards and how to authentically connect the arts to the curriculum they teach.
Why Arts Integration?
There are two big reasons why arts integration is effective: arts integration practices are aligned with how students learn and arts integration energizes educators by providing increased professional satisfaction.
Research about how humans learn supports arts integration, which provides learning experiences that are active and experiential, accessible, authentic, reflective, social, collaborative, dynamic, evolving, and focused on problem-solving. Because arts integration aligns with how humans learn best, students find it meaningful, relevant, and engaging.
Not only is arts integration engaging and motivating for students, educators often regain a sense of efficacy when they see the positive impact of arts integration on their students’ learning. Arts integration offers a powerful way for educators to return to the joy of teaching that aligns with current best practices and brain research.
Why Visuals and sensory engagement is important and how Arts Integration Supports Individual Needs….
“Arts Integration, as an approach to teaching and learning, supports many tenets for the development of the whole child by providing emotional safety, promoting full engagement in learning that is personally meaningful and challenging. The arts offer wholeness to learning that integrates though, feeling, and action, weaving together “the threads that connect mind, body, and spirit.”
Having experience with neurodiversity, children with special needs, and being the mother of a child with Dyslexia, I know how crucial visual communication, visual aids, and imagery is to reach and better accommodate the diverse spectrum of learning strategies.
Arts intigration Has many benefits including a multisensory approach for long term learning. What Is a Multisensory Approach? A multisensory learning approach is a term many schools use to describe teaching methods that involve engaging more than one sense at a time. Involving the use of visual, auditory and kinesthetic-tactile pathways, a multisensory approach can enhance memory and ability to learn.
Arts integration is powerfully aligned with the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and provides a range of options for accessing, using, and engaging with learning materials to accommodate the broad spectrum of learner variability in every classroom. The options provided through UDL reduce barriers in the learning environment for all students while keeping expectations high.
An integrated approach to teaching supports all students including students with disabilities, English language learners, students experiencing trauma and/or conflict, and students identified as gifted and talented. This approach is an educationally powerful way to provide “whole, healthy, and connected ways to learn” that support the tenets of Whole Child initiatives: physical and emotional safety, active engagement, personalized and challenging learning. Arts-Enhanced Curriculum is when the arts are used as a device or strategy to support other curriculum areas, but there are not objectives in the art form explicitly being taught.
Framework for considering Arts Integration:
- Arts-Based - Art is at the core of learning, providing a lens through which students can understand other subjects. Art serves as the basic threshold for general learning.
- Arts-Injected (or Infused) - Art is "injected" from the outside as a matter of enrichment (e.g., a period of music, visiting artists, etc.)
- Arts-Included - Art is offered alongside traditional curriculum, not necessarily for interdisciplinary purposes but rather as its own course of study.
- Arts-Expansion - Art is an exploratory adventure that takes students outside of school (e.g., field trips to a museum, concert hall, etc.)
- Arts-Professional - This approach treats art training as a means for a professional career in the arts, and turning students into artists is the primary goal.
- Arts-Extras - Art is sometimes offered as an additional commitment outside of regular school curriculum (e.g., school newspaper, after-school dance clubs, etc.).
- Arts-Education - Referred to by some as aesthetic education, this approach uses art as a way of knowing, turning its study more philosophical to interpret and apply to experiences.
- Arts-Cultura - Art connects individual students' "culture" to collective community "cultures" to more structured racial/national "Cultures" to the ultimate universal "Culture." It is through this interplay that art encourages students to take risks, think critically, and make meaning.
It is often difficult to fully integrate the arts with traditional classroom instruction in a way that allows for the arts-cultura model. This is largely due to the disconnect between art teachers and teachers of other subjects, who are not given the time or ability to coordinate and interweave lesson plans that apply art to core subjects and vice versa.