Courtesy of Integrated Arts Academy at H.O. Wheeler.
Students draw in the other half of self-portrait photographs extrapolating from what’s visible. (Courtesy of Ada Leaphart/Integrated Arts Academy at H.O. Wheeler.)

Art has long been recognized as an important part of a well-rounded education — but when it comes down to setting budget priorities, the arts rarely rise to the top. Many public schools saw their visual, performing and musical arts programs cut completely during the last recession, despite the many studies showing that exposure to the arts can help with academics too. A few schools are taking the research to heart, weaving the arts into everything they do and finding that the approach not only boosts academic achievement but also promotes creativity, self-confidence and school pride.

The arts integration experiment at Integrated Arts Academy at H.O. Wheeler (IAA) in Burlington, Vermont, started six years ago as an effort to break up socioeconomic imbalances in the district. Both the elementary schools in Burlington’s North End were failing and both had high levels of poverty (95 percent of IAA students qualified for free and reduced-price lunch), a large refugee population and lots of English-language learners. District leaders began having conversations with community members about turning Wheeler into a magnet school focused on both art and academics.

What does art integration look like? Recently, a fourth-grade lesson on geometry examined the work of the famous Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky. The class talked about his work and then created their own art using angles in the style of Kandinsky. Students had to be able to identify the angles they’d used and point them out in their art.

“Higher analytical thinking and reasoning and student voice fit so well with the arts,” said Bobby Riley, the school’s principal. Teachers are seeing ways to make connections between subjects and watch as students find creative confidence and voice in their expression.

The school is seeing results from the experiment.

Before IAA became an arts-integrated magnet school, only 17 percent of its third-graders were proficient in math on the NECAP test, Vermont’s standardized test. After five years, 66 percent met and achieved the standards. The school still has high levels of poverty, although now that poverty is less concentrated, and there are still high numbers of English-language learners and non-English speaking families. Riley says referrals to the office are almost nonexistent during arts integration periods, and students and their families are more engaged with the school.

IAA is still a public school, but now parents from outside the North End can choose to send their kids there. “Parents are interested in the arts model, interested in a different approach,” Riley said. The first year most kids still came from the neighborhood, but gradually the socioeconomic levels have evened out. Wealthier families are choosing to send their kids to IAA because of its program. Riley says the majority of students still walk to school — it hasn’t lost its sense of place in the community — but now only about half the students qualify for lunch programs.

The program is also helping connect parents from immigrant communities to the school. “Art is a big part of many of their cultures, so I think they appreciate that experience,” Riley said. “I think they like the community vibe of the school.”

Kindergarteners at  Wheeler paint the backdrop for their school photos. (Integrated Arts Academy at H.O Wheeler)
Kindergartners at Wheeler paint the backdrop for their school photos. (Courtesy of Ada Leaphart/Integrated Arts Academy at H.O. Wheeler)

ART IS NOT EXTRA, IT’S INTEGRAL

Art is not a second thought at the Integrated Arts Academy (IAA). Instead, artistic learning goals are held up as equals to academic standards and teachers work hard to design lessons that highlight content through art.

“If you pick a subject area like science, social studies, math or literacy and you integrate it with an art form, what you do is connect the two and find ways to really integrate the two so they lean on each other,” said Judy Klima, an integrated arts coach at IAA. An arts specialist co-plans and co-teaches alongside the general education teacher to help ensure academic learning is happening through an art form and visa versa.

For example, one third-grade science unit on leaf classification integrated visual arts into science. The teaching team used the close observation of leaves in science to teach about realistic versus abstract art. Students drew realistic drawings based on a leaf’s edge pattern. Then they made abstract art based on the scientific qualities of the leaf.

“When you engage hands-on and you are creating your own learning, you are deepening your level of understanding about a specific topic,” Klima said. In this case, students thought differently both about classification and characteristics, as well as about the differences between art forms.

Teachers rotate through visual art forms, music, dance and theater. One fifth-grade class came up with dramatic renditions of the Revolutionary War. They used the facts in their social studies curriculum to build scripts and then discussed the dramatic connections through volume, tone of voice and perspective.

 

Courtesy of Ada Leaphart
A student explores angles inspired by Pablo Picasso and the Cubism movement. (Courtesy of Ada Leaphart/Integrated Arts Academy at H.O. Wheeler)

TRANSITIONING TO AN ARTS FOCUS

The Integrated Arts Academy’s success has come with a lot of hard work. “If you taught in a traditional method and then you come to arts integration, you have to change everything,” Klima said. “You really have to understand creativity and that it’s critical to students’ understanding.” While all IAA teachers were given the option to stay at the school when it became a magnet, some chose to leave.

“The classroom is a teacher’s island,” Riley said. “They have their students and their curriculum, teaching the way they teach. The arts integration really pushed us to collaborate. Opening up our practice and reflecting on it is a big part of what we do.” He said that’s not the norm at many U.S. schools. And that’s why he knows the collaboration necessary to integrate arts into academics doesn’t necessarily come naturally to many people.

Courtesy of Ada Leaphart
(Courtesy of Ada Leaphart/Integrated Arts Academy at H.O. Wheeler)

In his role as school leader, Riley has focused on building up educators’ capacity to effectively collaborate. “You can’t just tell people to collaborate,” he said. “You have to put the structures and skill-building in place.” IAA has two teacher retreats a year where teachers create art and try out lessons together. It’s a time for community-building and collaboration, a space for teachers to stretch themselves as artists, too.

The school has also formed strong partnerships with the arts community in Burlington, taking advantage of its expertise through artist-in-residency programs and in turn helping to create a more vibrant arts scene. They’ve even started bringing graduate students in from across the state interested to learn and practice arts-integration strategies. While only in its second year, Riley hopes the Art Connect program can help spread these ideas to schools where participating teachers land.

ART AS DIFFERENTIATING TACTIC

At Cashman Elementary School in Amesbury, Massachusetts, Elizabeth Peterson doesn’t have the benefit of a schoolwide focus on arts integration to bolster her commitment to the practice. But she perseveres because she sees the approach making a difference for her fourth-grade students.

“I have to keep remembering and reminding myself that this is one of the best avenues to take. Because when kids are learning through the arts, they end up getting a deeper understanding and the concepts end up sticking much better,” Peterson said. Her strong suit is music — she used to teach piano. When she went back to the general education classroom, she thought music could bring some joy and creativity to the academics she taught.

Peterson might ask her students to listen to “Sabre Dance” by Aram Khachaturian several times, often during snacks or at another transition time. As a class they talk about the dynamics of the music, its tempo and instrumentation. Then students draw cartoons illustrating a story they’ve developed based on their interpretation of the music. Peterson asks students to develop a setting, plot and storyline, ultimately having them write out their story.

“They’re definitely more invested because they’re pulling from their own experience and it’s their own interpretation,” Peterson said. They write elaborate stories and then talk about the differences in each student’s interpretation of the music.

“Arts integration seems to be the best form of differentiation out there because it taps into so many different interests and abilities and forms of learning,” Peterson said. In the writing example, kids who hate writing happily develop complicated storylines and write pages upon pages of their own ideas.

WHY ISN’T ARTS INTEGRATION MORE POPULAR?

As with most deviations from what has been done in schools for hundreds of years, many teachers see art as secondary to the academic standards they must get through. Even Peterson said she feels that pressure, but she knows she can teach the standards through art in a way that also gives students some independence to stretch their creativity.

Arts integration can also be a hard model for teachers to buy into if they don’t feel like they themselves are competent artists. “Art scares people who are not in the arts,” said Michelle Baldwin, a lead teacher at the private Anastasis Academy, where art is central to everything done in the classroom. “If they don’t have a lot of experience or don’t feel like they are good at anything in the arts, it becomes a personal insecurity issue.”

But she points out that teachers don’t have to be experts to open up the door for students. There are experts willing to share their knowledge online, not to mention collaborations with local and state arts organizations to support this kind of work.

Elizabeth Peterson often feels out of her depth in visual arts, but that doesn’t mean she discourages it in her class. “I’m not a very good illustrator, but if you bring it into your classroom, some of your students might be,” she said. “Having an atmosphere of being open to various art forms is all your students need.”

Despite calls for more art in schools, artistic ability often isn’t recognized as a skill equal to computer coding or engineering by society. Many parents want their kids to study something that clearly leads to a stable job. Until the arts are held in high esteem, they will always come second in traditional schools, Baldwin said.

“Even if parents say they value the arts, they still have that ingrained industrial method of education that people have a hard time letting go of,” Baldwin said. And, in her opinion, it’s very hard to be creative within the narrow limitations of what traditional school and its standards ask kids to do. “You can’t be creative when you are in a box, when you have no way to make your own choices and decisions,” she said.

Some teachers using an arts integration model, like Elizabeth Peterson, are working to help teachers understand how art can be built into any kind of classroom. A big part of that is being able to pitch the idea to administrators and defend what might look like some whacky practices to people who wander into the classroom on a given day.

  • susan barber

    I love and believe in this message. This is how I incorporate art in my English classes. We must not let the arts die! http://www.aplithelp.com/art-close-reading-5-ways-see-critically/

  • RMCFlynn

    It was so excellent to read this article. Thank you for taking the time to write about and share your successes with arts integration in your school. A science script on the three states of matter that I wrote with your students several years ago has been used by students and teachers nationwide. The short script requires students to use the theatre skills of speaking with expression, projecting, articulating, and performing with energy and stage presence–all while they read, rehearse, and repeat information about solids, liquids, and gasses!

    • Love it!

    • Judy Klima

      Roslind! We so miss you and hope to have you back again!

  • I’m glad the article mentioned the difficulty in taking this kind of approach, alongside all of the promise. Worth the effort? Absolutely! For the past 20 years, I’ve been integrating music with social studies units – particularly American and New York State history – and have seen the benefits firsthand. The arts spark learning.

  • Karen Rosnick

    Perhaps the most important part of the program is the time given for the teachers to collaborate on new ideas for integrating arts into other curricula. Planning time needs to be incorporated into any new initiative. Reflection helps increase success.

  • TPS Publishing has a comprehensive math program that teaches all common core standards K-8 through traditional lessons, STEM projects, and ART activities. The teacher can decide which method works best for each topic. I’d suggest starting the unit of instruction with an ART or STEM lesson and supplementing it with traditional lessons only as necessary. I know that is backwards from the usual pedagogy, but it works very well.

  • bpirtle

    Can’t spell ‘Smart’ without ART!

    • Barbara A. Anness

      I love this! I will be sharing!

    • or FART

  • atknwithout

    I stopped reading the article because of its insistence that arts integration was responsible for higher test scores, then went on to admit that socio-economic levels have “evened out”. So what is it? Arts that create opportunities for poor students, or a school that is attractive to wealthy families that is reflected in this school’s academic proficiency ratings? I can’t find an apple on the ground and claim it grew from there when I know if fell from the tree above. Arts are important, but this article, in its glaring honesty, doesn’t convince the reader of such. So disappointing that poor families were gentrified out of this school building.

    • Stefan Anders

      I also noticed the change in socio-economic levels. However, if more schools used this approach, then poor families would not be gentrified out.

      • Nathalie

        The original comment is assuming that children of better socioeconomic backgrounds are naturally more intelligent than ones that are not…wealthy kids are not innately smarter than poor kids, but wealthy kids generally are afforded more opportunities to go to great schools with great curriculums in (usually) wealthy areas. That’s why the fact that wealthy parents want to send their kids here speaks volumes. Higher test scores are the result of a great curriculum. period.

    • Rhonda Painter

      Uh, hello. The socioeconomic levels evened out because more upper middle class families started sending their kids there once the program started showing results. Go back and reread.

    • Hello:
      I’m the principal at IAA and would love to clarify any misconceptions and/or confusion.
      While the SE levels help create an environment that more easily allows all students to excel, it is only a part of the success of our school. A few things are important to note. The achievement gap still exists, as it does everywhere in the country. However, we have seen 20 – 40% jumps in test scores for our SPED, ELL and low SE students on state standardized test scores. Our local progress monitoring has shown even greater gains in these demographics. Also, we have not had to turn any students from the high poverty areas in the city away. Due to school choice, students of any economic level have access to schools throughout the district. Finally, the anecdotal record, in my humble opinion, out weighs so much of these other issues. Kids are happier, more confident, community oriented and supportive. We are noting that more students, across demographics, are more widely involved in extracurricular activities throughout middle and high school. Also, previously teachers at the Middle and High School perceive which students came from the two inner-city schools. They now report that is no longer the case. Our students, due to the arts, are coming with not only academic skills, but the much more important social-emotional skills. Hopefully, this clears up any confusion.

  • M. E.

    In order for Art to be integrated it is important that time for teachers to collaborate is structured into the teaching schedule. I see from the article that most of the reference is to Elementary school. What evidence is there that Art integration is beneficial to HS academic courses?

  • fahrender

    A short answer: Many teachers have a horror of anything that could create a mess.
    A question: Do the schools mentioned above actually have an Art Teacher (or a Music Teacher)?
    One is called “Integrated Arts Academy”. Is there an Art Teacher there? Or is the Art Program as such just not a part of the school? If there were an Art Teacher and part of the teacher’s work load was mentoring classroom teachers in designing and utilizing art activities in support of their other subject areas, and budgeting was such as would provide for adequate supplies then Integrating Arts is eminently possible. Otherwise it can become a “bolt on” mainly good for PR.

    • happy arts momma

      I can’t speak for this particular school but my children go to an integrated art school and we do have an art teacher as well as several teachers that specialize in violin, keyboard, dance, and Spanish. All of our classroom teachers have graduated from a college where their degree was specialized in integrated arts.and moving my children from a traditional school to the integrated arts school I have seen huge improvements in reading and math.

      • fahrender

        That sounds great. The school where I teach has several classroom teachers who play either guitar or piano as well as a performing arts teacher and a visual art teacher.

    • We in fact have deepened and rely more heavily on our arts specialists services. We have a Full Time Music, Movement, Drama and Visual Arts teacher. They are essential to what we do as a school. They co-teach in the classroom, they provide coaching to teachers in the arts areas and lead the school toward more artistic experiences in and out of the classroom. All this, while they still maintain regularly scheduled arts classes. The more arts the better, we would never dream of cutting those services and I would wholeheartedly advocate against any measures to diminish student contact time in these environments. Feel free to connect with me via email if you have any additional questions.

  • Amelia Koneck

    I have my Masters in Integrating the Arts. No matter how MANY times I have told the Teacher at my school, I feel as though I am still used as their “extra” Plan Time. I have asked numerous times for them to share with me their Plans and for them to allow me to create Art Lessons to go with them. Have ANY taken me up on it? Nope. 🙁
    Yet, I still have my Art Students asking for ME to be their Teacher. I sometimes laugh and say, “I am your Teacher!”. “No. No. You teach us Math in a way we understand. You make it fun!”.
    I just let them know that ART is in EVERY Subject: Math, Science, Social Studies, Reading, Writing, Music, Dance, etc. They seem to ponder. Then, they all seem to agree. Yet, I still hear, “You should still be teaching us ALL DAY. We’d be smarter because of how YOU teach.”. ;-). I smile at this HUGE compliment.
    Yes. I will keep on Teaching because it’s my Calling.
    Art is, and will always be, my Passion.
    I tell them. “When you have a Passion, there will always be Possibilities in LIFE!”. 😉
    LONG LIVE THE ARTS ! ! !
    (Oh, and I do Sing little jingles in my class, on a daily basis. One of them is “You can’t be Smart, unless you have ART!”. They love this.)

    • Sunondo Roy

      Probably easier said than done, but show rather than talk. As an engineer, I regularly r Ryan to visualize a solution before getting down into the weeds of calculations to validate the solution. It’s that visualization skill that I see lacking in so many young ans older engineers who never come up with the next great idea. Don’t give up the good fight!

      • BB

        Yes! That is such an important skill to have in solving any problem. I tell my kids that the arts help teach you to become creative thinkers, to come up with more than one solution and to visualize the end result and to plan the steps to get there. In the end, if things didn’t go as planned, to try again and to rethink steps, or practice skills needed. Art is EVERYWHERE and so obvious to me, but so many lack the vision to even try it!

    • bbonbi

      Where is that Masters program? Thanks and keep at it; sounds like your students “get” it!

    • Chidimma Hirochima Okirike

      My chemistry teacher Mr Lambert (1996) integrated art into a subject i never thought i could love. It was awesome we made art projects using what we learned in Chemistry and he carved award plaques and gave theTm to us after every challenge. To this day i love chemistry and ill always remember him as the best teacher i ever had. Teachers like you change everything!

    • Sabzee

      Can you give us some ideas about integrating in eg. Writing and social studies? I’m really art-challenged and feel like my homeschooled kids are missing out on something huge! My daughter is very good at drawing and I want to help her develop her skills or use it to ‘get’ math, which she find challenging. Any links would be helpful too. U can email me at my name @gmail

      • Ahannan

        Try creating a drawing then writing a short story we made haunted house out of cardboard then wrote and the stories were fantastic! Use color to create emotional painting use color chart for see what Colors provoke then write about it , Indian talking stick , create biome on Greek Japan roman etc explain it so may ideas Van Gogh flower to study plant parts !!!

      • Hello Sabzee:

        I’m the principal at IAA and would be happy to direct you toward some great resources. I can be reached at briley@bsdvt.org

      • McQuillen Studios

        Integrating the arts across the curriculum can be anxiety inducing if you do not have experience talking about art. I have created lessons with these anxieties in mind http://bit.ly/McQuStudio18 These are free so share as you see fit.

    • Joan

      I am a teaching artist who has received the same reactions many times. It’s frustrating when you know the integrations can improve learning and save time doing it. I have found making school murals using the entire students (not all at the same time 🙂 ) works well, and gives the added elements of mentoring, working as a unit, research, and pride. Murals can show history, character traits, nature studies, even math. The list goes on. Check out my web site, murals forevermore.com
      Joan bourque

    • Joan

      oops. Website is muralsforevryone.com

  • Facebook User

    Art projects in schools are important learning tools. I teach young children classes in Paper Craft and Book Making in conjunction with my children’s picture books. Besides of usual skills of cutting, pasting, drawing, color theory, etc. these classes also promote measuring, arithmetic and story writing. Art classes are not just about art. Beryl Reichenberg

  • Labyrinthia

    So, basically, test scores increased as socioeconomic status increased? Shocking.

    I think integrating arts into the curriculum is great. We can’t misrepresent what happened here, though. An innovative school started, middle class parents started to send their kids. Yes, it did do a good job of integrating the school- but it wasn’t some magically pill. They could have set up a Montessori magnet or Classical magnet or whatever and the exact same thing probably would have happened.

    • Hello:
      I’m the principal at IAA and would love to clarify any misconceptions and/or confusion.
      While the SE levels help create an environment that more easily allows all students to excel, it is only a part of the success of our school. A few things are important to note. The achievement gap still exists, as it does everywhere in the country. However, we have seen 20 – 40% jumps in test scores for our SPED, ELL and low SE students on state standardized test scores. Our local progress monitoring has shown even greater gains in these demographics. Also, we have not had to turn any students from the high poverty areas in the city away. Due to school choice, students of any economic level have access to schools throughout the district. Finally, the anecdotal record, in my humble opinion, out weighs so much of these other issues. Kids are happier, more confident, community oriented and supportive. We are noting that more students, across demographics, are more widely involved in extracurricular activities throughout middle and high school. Also, previously teachers at the Middle and High School perceive which students came from the two inner-city schools. They now report that is no longer the case. Our students, due to the arts, are coming with not only academic skills, but the much more important social-emotional skills. Hopefully, this clears up any confusion.

  • Mr. BFAcomdsgn

    Serious Fail, IMHO this is the exact opposite of why Arts & Music is a benefit to a well rounded education. Take what part might become creative free think time and chained to the same brain strain lesson plan. Educators simply don’t get brains at all. Sure it’s fun, but distracting to any lesson for young kids. Teach a lesson, then let that part of the brain “rest & digest” and work on creative exercises. We need different disciplines using different compartments of the brain for a well rounded mind. Tossing it all in a blender isn’t going to make that happen.

  • actualartteacher

    And thus, all of the art classes and art teachers were deemed unnecessary in the name of better scores and saving money. How about you keep the art teachers, give the students more time in the studio, AND do integration? Why do people leave it up to the classroom teacher to figure out a discipline that they have not been trained in? Guess what, parents? You are being ripped off if you think that arts integration will replace a real liberal arts education. Yes, math taught in the context of art will be more interesting to students because it is more visual and relevant. However, the classroom teacher will not understand the importance of how a particular skill is taught without proper training-specifically the self-portrait exercise pictured in the article (likely pulled from that teacher’s high school art experience). It is a confidence killer and should not be introduced at the elementary level (or any level, for that matter). As we careen head-long into a pathetic campaign to keep up with India and China in math education, I hope that some might start to recognize that our own strength as a country is our resilience, ingenuity, and creativity: all things learned in the studio.

    • We in fact have deepened and rely more heavily on our arts specialists services. We have a Full Time Music, Movement, Drama and Visual Arts teacher. They are essential to what we do. They co-teach in the classroom, they provide coaching to teachers in the arts areas and lead the school toward more artistic experiences in and out of the classroom. All this, while they still maintain regularly scheduled arts classes. The more arts the better, we would never dream of cutting those services and I would wholeheartedly advocate against any measures to diminish student contact time in these environments. Feel free to connect with me via email if you have any additional questions.

  • Sue Lau

    http://www.pamplinmedia.com/ttt/89-news/247194-114877-mitch-students-find-validation-in-art
    You are not alone in this valuable model. Teaching art integrated to our Core Knowledge classroom content makes for enthusiastic empowered learners. It’s a shame test scores need to validate the value of art education. Keep up the important work! Your article gives me hope others “get” this great gift to children.

  • Rebecca Broyles

    I am going to re-title this article for those who might like it without reading it closely. New title, “Death to Art Programs across America.” I would hope that schools that have no art program might take on this Integration task. BUT, those programs that do have flourishing art programs that work would now be dictated by the classroom teacher. Programs that have Mater Degree Level, or higher, art instructors, who teach the full spectrum of National Art Standards will soon be faced with no studios and a cart with some construction paper to make a model of an atom (something students already should be doing in their science class). I am all for supporting an additional art specialist in a school to help teachers, but this in no way should replace the rich studio learning that takes place in an art class.

    • MJFEE

      I too had the same thoughts while reading. Scary

    • Hey Rebecca:

      I’m the principal at IAA.

      Certainly understand your concern. Not the case at IAA. We in fact have deepened and rely more heavily on our arts specialists services. They co-teach in the classroom, they provide coaching to teachers in the arts areas and lead the school toward more artistic experiences in and out of the classroom. All this, while they still maintain regularly scheduled arts classes. The more arts the better, we would never dream of cutting those services and I would wholeheartedly advocate against any measures to diminish student contact time in these environments. Feel free to connect with me via email if you have any additional questions.

    • Mary McKenney

      I agree. Art is not a tool. Art does not need a reason, or proof that it can help students learn something else. Art is for art’s own sake… for creative expression, not to illustrate concepts.

    • Elizabeth Peterson

      I would like to echo what Bobby has said. (This is the Elizabeth referenced in the article.)

      Any true arts integration specialist or enthusiast would agree that arts int should never take the place of learning an art form for the sake of the art. Instead, we are proponents of students having meaningful education in the arts with capable and educated artists and arts teachers. We can then further and deepen students learning when we tie those experiences and skills into other content areas. We can show relationships between math and music, use dance to interpret nature, or utilize and develop a student’s artistic skills by having them create art in response to reading or the study of a social studies topic. Arts education and integration should complement each other.

  • JFohner

    Just as differentiation has allowed schools to justify eliminating special education services to students, I fear that this “integration” will allow schools to eliminate music and art teachers since they are no longer “needed.”

  • Aimee Terrebonne Cribbs

    I am certified in ECE general Ed and k12 visual arts. My 18 year career has been pretty evenly divided between the classroom and the art room. The fact that my colleagues have seen me operate in both capacities has helped them be more open to my brand of integration. For the folks out there who are getting resistance, I recommend that you take the first step. I find that SS and Science standards are the easiest to integrate. Some examples: all year, I’ve woven in indigenous art from all around the world to solidify 4th grade understanding of native Americans. In the past, I’ve done an experiment on bird adaptations before doing an owl painting. If your colleagues see the depth of learning going on,they might be less intimidated by the whole art thing.
    Unfortunately, new teacher evaluation policies are forcing me to pull back on integration in the tested grades, since I’m graded on their growth only in art (never mind SS). Arts integration is natural in the elementary grades. It supports everything we know about how young children learn. Testing doesn’t.

  • ultramarine73

    As someone who has mild dyslexia I don’t think people understand how important arts can be to people with learning disabilities. Especially in my early years my dyslexia was a formidable obstacle–I was placed in remedial classes–which at the time were nothing more than holding pens. Art was the only thing that gave me confidence, and without it I probably would have become completely disheartened by school. I overcame my dyslexia and went on to become a National Merit Scholar and to make Phi Beta Kappa in college. I actually have a career that utilizes my art skills. Design can pay really well if you approach it with a work ethic.

  • Kyle Duchein Boeglin

    My sons attend a school that follows The Artful Learning model, similar to what is discussed here. I could not be more pleased with how the school uses art to encourage creative thinking and strong analytical skills. Essential tools for the future job market.

  • Feng Yafei
  • 10songsblog

    Well the powers that be don’t what it easy to understand and they don’t want creative people teaching arts because that causes curiosity, questioning, and free thinking in our youth, which is dangerous. Frankly we’ve done as much as possible in the country to stamp that out and it is sad and really rather scary.

    I tutor kids and very often the best methods I’ve found for getting a lesson across is not in the textbook. I’ve taught math through, music & dance, and through cooking. I’ve taught English through cooking as well (writing recipes, or reviews of foods, vocabulary and grammar NOT just food related). I’ve used poetry in all kinds of ways as well. But this is after school and during summer not during regular school hours where my students say they are bored to death doing rote memorization grammar lesson that don’t help. Nothing they learn has context for them. So they don’t really care but if you give it context say using math to make the right portions for tamales (which in my area is big deal since it is a large Hispanic neighborhood) things come alive for them.

  • E Gibbons

    I know first hand that incorporating core content into art helps students succeed. Mine scored 155 points higher on average than their peers on the SAT than those who did not have art in 2013…

    However, art class needs to be ART class. It is not secondary to core content, but a partner. Projects still need to be connected to the student/artist interest and expression, if not, it’s not ART. The integration happens in parallel.

    When discussing color, we talk about spectrum, prisms, light waves, etc. When we construct sculptures we talk about structure, engineering, balance, mass. In projects we connect with history, the events surrounding the art, be it the French Revolution or the Renaissance. We include writing when students critique, plan, reply, investigate, and more.

    To have an art class ALL make leaf drawings (As in the article) both realistically and abstractly, disconnected to the child’s point of view and anything that motivates the child IS NOT ART. It’s a craft project, and the art teacher could facilitate the exercise with the science teacher, BUT it should NOT be done within the art room.

    I’d argue that the art room could explore trees, leaves, and foliage, and perhaps create leaf collage self portraits as woodland creatures to protect nature, OR Print with leaves to create self portraits in the mode of Giuseppe Arcimboldo.

    Art must be a PARTNER in education for the greatest benefit.

    Examples of my approach can be found at http://www.artedguru.com

    • MJFEE

      Totally agree

  • Crystal Moberg

    Amazing article!!!

  • MJFEE

    WHY ISN’T ARTS INTEGRATION MORE POPULAR?… because it isn’t on the test. We have to somehow stop with this test nonsense. Really… if it isn’t on the test teachers are told to stop teaching it. There isn’t time for it 🙁

  • Charles Wagner

    A patented method to draw with typist’s correction fluid (tcf) supports the idea that Art is integral to Education. Black ink, lead pencil, felt tipped markers, color washes, etc., normally are not used for impromptu and spontaneous drawing on paper. The reason is that the ink and lead marks are uncontrollable and do not refine. A new capability to erase, lighten, and an added color white to design with, empowers a student to draw and refine a visual image with simple drawing tools, once useless for fine art. More bang for the buck (drawing power) and the materials are practically free. Drawing (sketching) on PC paper makes a PC more useful for art students than now is the case.

  • LaVonne Limpus

    How can we sign our Art Director up for one of the retreats?

  • nlpnt

    One point the article doesn’t make is that IAA and the other inner-city turned magnet school are maybe half a mile apart, with a Catholic school that closed about the same time the public ones became magnets about halfway between them. Differentiating the schools was the only way to keep both open.

  • For an effective program that involves students directly with music and the performing arts as an instructional methodology, see http://www.rockademix.org.

  • Here are the results from Art and Nutrition .

    I am a retired physician and artist. What a wonderful way to stimulate kids.
    I have a fellowship in integrative medicine and came up with a pilot program based on your info. Many thanks to you for a great forum and idea.

    Here are the results from our pilot:

    http://www.conroeartleague.com/nutrition-and-art.html

    I look forward to any ideas on expanding or improving this program of getting Children to Learn Nutrition thru Art.

    Al Heilman
    http://www.alheilman.com

  • Nancy Kiefer

    Thank you for posting your fascinating article. I feel lucky to teach in a school where the arts are integral across the curriculum I do
    think that planning and collaboration has been the key to this success. Although our planning takes longer, we are able to work with each other and learn from our team members’ strengths. As a Pre-K -5th grade librarian, I have been able to integrate the arts in a number of subjects during our weekly library circle. Visually pursuing ideas in literature has been a way for students to invest more deeply in the books I am sharing and reading out loud. With the collaboration of faculty, we have created collage and employed Readers Theater techniques to illustrate poetry, fiction, and biography as well as a number of non-fiction science books. This year we offered a storytelling club, using tales of constellations. The students used felt, jewels, and, yes, and a little bit of glitter glue to make elaborate constellations to enhance their storytelling. Although I personally felt limited in some of these areas, by carefully watching my students, and learning from my colleagues, I learned so much.

  • duneduder

    Thank you, Katrina, for adding a voice to this necessary conversation.

  • NB

    Many schools public schools now have decent arts programs, but don’t actively make art a requirement or integrate it into students’ learning. Through arts integration, students can use art to help them grasp the concepts they are being taugh. The advantage to this is how universal art is; with arts integration, learning becomes significantly less biased based on younger students’ socioeconomic status. With an increase in focus on early education in recent years, I wonder if arts integration will eventually gain notability. It seems that arts integration provides a significant and reliable improvement to early education for a relatively low cost and amount of effort by educators.

Author

Katrina Schwartz

Katrina Schwartz is a journalist based in San Francisco. She's worked at KPCC public radio in LA and has reported on air and online for KQED since 2010. She's a staff writer for KQED's education blog MindShift.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor