It’s pretty par for the course for educators in arts academy high schools to be asked why how and why arts integration education works. And why would they choose this route?
There is usually a myriad of answers. Many experienced students who were bored or unmotivated by conventional education protocols. They needed a different way to learn.
Conventional educators’ performance is judged on test scores though. So there’s little room for them to attend to the unique needs of artistically minded students. And these students are soon labeled as troubled or difficult.
Arts Integration Education Offers Alternatives
Some students work really hard but just can’t seem to grasp the material. This leaves them feeling frustrated and defeated. Others have already jumped ship because they’ve been beaten down too many times to keep trying.
This is not only hard on the students, but their teachers as well. Educators want so much for students to thrive in the learning environment. They are bound, however, by test scores and student achievement measures.
Somewhere along the path, conventional education gave up on the notion that creativity, innovation, and learning can co-exist. Yet arts-integrated high schools and middle schools find the opposite to be true.
And what’s more, student achievement measures increase in this setting.
Why Arts Integration Education Works
One of the most beautiful aspects of arts integration education is how it fosters an equitable learning environment for all students through their own access points.
When the arts are intentionally integrated into learning, students become active and willing participants. They engage in critical thinking and develop skills through problem-solving and innovation. They gain a sense of ownership in their learning and take an interest in succeeding.
The need to construct personal meaning through their arts-integrated lessons enables all learners to build grit and persevere, rather than give up.
This, in turn, empowers the arts education instructors who facilitate this creative learning. Providing a hands-on learning environment is exceedingly fulfilling.
How a Weekly Lesson Plan Might Look
Educators working in this modality create weekly lesson plans that look different from those of their conventional colleagues. But they’re no less effective. And for students who struggle in “regular” educational settings, these revolutionary methods for teaching are life-changing.
In other words, learning becomes interesting.
What follows is just an example of what a week of a class at an arts-integrated institution might look like:
At the beginning of the week, the students are asked to look at a famous artwork or performance. It could be a painting, a building, a piece of music or writing, or a clip of a dance or theatrical performance.
The teacher will then share background information on the artist/writer/architect/musician/performer. To infuse some social studies into the lesson, the teacher may ask students to discuss how the creation made a difference in the world.
Utilizing the same piece, Tuesday’s session asks students to delve into the technical aspects of it. It could be looking at the timing on a piece of music. It might be by studying the dimensions of a building to discuss mathematical principles. Whatever the case, students are encouraged to explore spacial techniques used by the artist, writer, musician, etc. and experiment with some of these techniques in their own artistic ventures.
Wednesday brings the opportunity to look at the piece from a geographical vantage point. Utilizing internet resources, students are encouraged to explore the location where the artwork’s genesis and learn its history.
Various software platforms and connected blogs allow students to connect to classes in the same grade level in the place where the art originated. They can share with one another what they’re learning. They will also gain an understanding of the community and culture that currently exist there.
This fourth day of the week is all about interacting with the piece on an even deeper level. Armed with all of the information and insight gained in the first three days, they may now choose to create a soundscape for a painting, give an interpretive dance based on a writing, or paint an expressionistic rendering of an architectural masterpiece.
The possibilities are endless.
Friday is when everything is pulled together and students are asked to reflect upon their newly gained knowledge. From that, they will create a cumulative review of the piece. There is a number of ways they may do this.
It can be a quick write where students are asked to write as much as they remember in ten minutes. It’s not a test, it’s just a completely free flow ‘brain dump.’ Some students may instead want to draw a narrative picture or create a vlog.
The educator may also have the students sit in one big circle and ask the first student to make a statement about what they remember. Then the next person in the circle says, “Yes, and…” and adds to it. This continues around and around the circle until the whole class has exhausted every fact they can remember.
Again, there are countless possibilities.
Want to Experience the Arts Integration Difference?
For arts integration educators, there’s a special satisfaction in seeing their students thriving and interested in learning. It’s equally, if not more so, rewarding for the students!
So if your child is showing little interest in school and you’d like to experience firsthand why arts integration education works, contact us today to take a tour of our school.
And prepare for possibilities!