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All too often art teachers feel as though they are on an island: they are the only teachers of their content in the building and it can be isolating. But who is creating that island? Sometimes we isolate ourselves, and this can result in missing out on some powerful opportunities to work with colleagues and impact student achievement outside of our own classrooms.
Arts integration can be a scary concept for art teachers. We all know that art for art’s sake is important and that what we teach doesn’t always need to be a support for learning math or reading. However, a truly integrated arts lesson is defined by the Kennedy Center as “… an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Students engage in a creative process which connects an art form and another subject area and meets evolving objectives in both.”
In other words, the art concepts and objectives have equal weight as the other content area objectives.
Recently I collaborated with my building’s second grade team to create 3-D landscapes using Model Magic. Their social studies objectives were studied and met in their classroom, then I came in and supported their sculpting, requiring students to meet visual arts objectives in their final project. Does it take time? Yes. Does it cement learning in both content areas into the students’ brains in a way that other strategies can’t? Absolutely! Is it an highly engaging way to teach that will wow administrators, teachers, and students? I think one of our second-graders said it best, “We’re doing art!? In social studies!? AWESOME!!”
If you are looking for more ideas to collaborate with your colleagues in other diciplines, consider the class ‘Connecting Art to the Common Core,’ running for the first time this summer.
What is one successful collaboration you’ve done? Tell us about it.
What is your opinion on ‘Art for Arts Sake’?