Why the Arts?

If my 23 years of teaching have taught me one thing, it’s this: when students are truly invested in their learning, they are more engaged, they connect stronger to the content, they connect personal meaning to the educational process, and they learn more.  How, then, to keep students invested in their learning? My answer is arts-based learning projects.  

I’ve witnessed the transformative power of how the arts submerses my students into the content of my classes.  In order for our students to flourish, we need to provide them with multiple opportunities to develop divergent thinking rather than stress conformity.  In order for our students to think critically, we need to create occasions for them to explore symbolic expression to develop personal meaning and demonstrate understanding.  Arts integration has the power to build upon the progressive learning in our classrooms and increase instances for our students to employ their creative abilities for learning.  Arts integration has the potential to completely engage students in their learning. Integrating the arts into our practice develops us as culturally responsive teachers, strengthens our students’ cultural connections, and builds community.

Please use this site as a reference for how you can integrate the arts directly into your content and instruction.  This reference gives actual examples of assignments, assessments, and units I’ve used in my English/Language Arts classrooms.  Additionally, I provide practical activities and ideas on how the arts can be integrated into any classroom teaching any subject or content.  There is also a reference page for you to consult on how to better integrate the arts into your curriculum. You will be in awe by the level of engagement and depth of understanding your students will demonstrate.  

Arts used in the Curriculum:

Movement – Arts related to expressive action within a physical space

Visual – Arts created primarily for visual perception as drawing, graphics, painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts. 

Music – Arts of sound in time expressing ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color.

Drama – Arts related to theatrical performance involving conflict, character, or narrative.

Poetry – Arts related to written or spoken expression.

Storytelling – Arts related to the writing or telling of narratives.

Research-based benefits for arts integration into the curriculum:

  • The arts make content more accessible.
  • The arts encourage active learning.
  • The arts foster personal connection to content.
  • The arts help students understand and express abstract concepts.
  • The arts stimulate higher-level thinking.
  • The arts build community and help students develop collaborative skills.

(from Lively Learning, Linda Crawford)

Click below for a rationale for use in the curriculum and sample lessons