In just a few years, art education has gone from the easiest thing to cut in a school budget to an increasingly utilized teaching technique to increase student engagement and deepen understanding. Arts organizations with an education mission are teaming up with classroom teachers to develop lessons that use drama, music, visual art and dance to help students understand concepts that can be abstract and complex.
In a Washington Post article, Moriah Balingit details one such program in Fairfax County, VA. Grade level teachers said they learned a lot from the trained arts-integration specialists and have tried to incorporate some of the strategies on their own as well. Balingit writes that an external evaluation of the program found it to be success at improving achievement as well:
“Researcher Mengli Song said the students in the program did not necessarily learn additional math content but they did demonstrate a better grasp of the material. And the effect was comparable to other early-childhood interventions. ‘It’s not a huge effect, but it’s a non-trivial, notable effect,’ Song said.”
The children puffed out their chests and mimicked drama teacher Melissa Richardson, rehearsing their big, booming “rhino voices.” “Giant steps, giant steps, big and bold!” the kindergartners yelled in unison in a classroom at Westlawn Elementary in Fairfax County.