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Arts Integration, Common Core, and Getting the Community Involved

Written by Bethany Todd, in Collaboration with Laura Barr

Getting Clear about Arts Integration

When I first started learning about Arts Integration, I was a bit confused. I was asking myself, What’s new about this idea? Teachers integrate the arts all the time, right? I was recalling my own fifth grade book illustrations and treasured silhouette craft project. With the pressure of standardized tests and the myth that there isn’t enough time for the arts, I think that in many cases, the arts have gotten squeezed out of curriculum. With new research supporting the power of the arts to motivate, engage, and teach critical skills, teachers and schools are turning to Arts Integration for an approach to teaching. Arts Integration also partners with Common Core by providing opportunities to teach “the same skills asked of students in the Common Core Standards.”-Michelle Grohe, director of school and teacher programs at the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum. HOORAY!

What is Arts Integration?

The Kennedy Center of Performing Arts in Washington D.C. defines Arts Integration as “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.”

Wikipedia defines Arts Integration as “an approach to teaching that integrates the fine and performing arts as primary pathways to learning”.

Edutopia further clears up some confusion in their  articleUse Arts Integration to Enhance Common Core. They list 4 elements of Arts Integration, reminding us that it’s all about intentional planning and careful collaboration:

  • Collaboration between arts and classroom teachers to find naturally-aligned objectives
  • Using an arts area in which the classroom teacher is comfortable (for many, this starts with visual arts)
  • Creating a lesson that truly teaches to both standards
  • Assessing both areas equitably

Community Involvement

I love that it’s the Kennedy Center that provides the rich definition for arts integration. It is evidence of community involvement. We are thrilled to see communities getting involved in education. Numerous museums are beginning to provide arts integration resources for teachers and in-house programs by working to provide a rich, engaging, and meaningful education for all children.

At Leo Politi Elementary, Teaching Channel reports that teachers are even collaborating with local artists once a week!

How does Arts Integration work with Common Core? 

Edutopia provides some ways in which Arts Integration and Common Core work together. The main ways in which they support each other is through the value of  process over product and the practice of critique.

Denver Schools

Some Denver Schools utilizing Arts Integration include Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy, Walnut Hills Community Elementary, and Homestead Elementary.

Our Favorite Programs

Integrated Arts gives children the opportunity to express themselves in a way most schools do not. If your child is not attending a school that does Arts Ingration, fear not, e.Merging’ has some favorite art programs to share: Student’s Art League and The Art Barn.

Resources for Teachers

Education Closet

Over 75 free lesson plans for art and general education teachers. Sample lessons:

Arts Edge

The Kennedy Center provides this free digital resource providing lessons to learn content and arts, primary to secondary grades.

Teaching Channel

The Teaching Channel partnered with Getty Museum to create a video series in which viewers get to watch teachers utilize arts integration with numerous grade levels, subject areas, and within different contexts; all in connection to Common Core. Click here for lesson plan resources provided by the Getty Education Department.

Arts Integration Solutions

AiS provides professional development for teachers. They will even co-teach, model and provide coaching.



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