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Arts Integration Is Not Arts and Crafts

Educators who teach academics through art often have to explain that arts integration is not arts and crafts.

This is especially the case for teachers at arts academy middle/high schools who often need to clarify to new parents of incoming students that their child won’t be drawing pictures or banging on the drum all day.

These educators are, in fact, required to follow specific guidelines that help prevent arts integration in the academic classroom from becoming an arts and crafts class.

How Educators Ensure Arts Integration Is Not Arts and Crafts

Arts integration grew out of research that showed how incorporating art is one of the best ways to engage students in content learning. Because young people are open to the arts and creativity, they tend to be more motivated and better able to pay attention and focus when arts are folded into learning.

So how do educators keep the lessons from straying as children’s creativity flows? For starters, they are trained in the specifics of teaching academics through art.

But they are also careful to do the following:

1. Align With Standards and State the Desired Learning Outcomes

A teacher may choose to use art as an entry point to pique a student’s curiosity. Or perhaps he or she uses it as a means for assessing the student’s knowledge. Whatever the case, they must focus on aligning with Common Core State Standards. There is a wide variety of educational websites, museums, and centers that offer detailed lessons for educators. These span across disciplines and grade levels and are aligned to those standards while maintaining academic focus.

In addition, when arts integration educators set out to teach academics through an art form, it’s crucial that they clearly identify and state the desired learning outcome so as not to lose sight of this. This important communication allows for a more narrowed focus and continued dialogue throughout the process to keep the student engaged and focused on learning goals.

2. Create Grading Rubrics Specific to Projects

The big question of “how do you grade art?” can stir up anxiety for both students and educators. Creating a specific rubric can alleviate that anxiety. Educators are advised to have a minimum of three basic categories:

The first is content. How well does the project reflect an understanding of the content? The second is process. Did the student use planning, organization, and higher-order thinking skills in mastering the content?

Finally, there’s the actual product itself. This is the part that can make educators and students anxious. Especially if the discipline is not the teacher’s area of expertise. Whatever the case, they will grade based on the quality of the product and what sort of effort the student demonstrated.

Many educators will also have students provide a written or spoken reflection on the process and the final product. This can be an additional tool in assessing their grasp of the content.

3.  Give Students a Choice and Voice

Students at arts-integrated schools are not all going to be naturally good at any artistic venture. Just as each student has a different learning style, he/she/they will have art forms that speak to them more clearly than others.

Given this, educators who are intent on their students understanding an academic subject will often offer multiple avenues for them to explore. A student who’s a natural performer might want to write and sing a song or perform a monologue. Another may express themselves through painting, sculpture, or even graffiti.

Then there are students who dabble across disciplines such as graphic novelists or those interested in musical theater. So rather than offering a choice of options, there are times when teachers may ask the students to propose their own projects. This gives them the freedom to dream, expand, and create, while still taking ownership of their learning.

4. Require Students to Share With Others

Every teacher knows that one of the most effective ways to learn is to teach. Providing students with an opportunity to exhibit their finished projects (in school, throughout the community, on the internet, etc.) gives them a chance to showcase the information they’ve learned. What’s more, it gives them practical experience for exhibiting – a skill many will need if they want to make it as an artist.

Your Child Could Benefit from Arts Integrated Education

Is your child highly creative and struggling to flourish in a conventional educational system? Consider an arts-integrated education.

Arts integration is not arts and crafts. It’s a brilliant gateway for student creativity, engagement, and motivation. It allows students to use critical thinking skills and thrive while learning academics through individualized artistic projects.

Sound good? Contact us today to request a tour of our school. And give your child a chance to shine!


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