A New Twist on Arts Integration

Collaborating with other teachers and bringing core curriculum into the art room is a wonderful idea.  I love supporting the curriculum and reinforcing student learning in this way.  But I can’t help wondering… what if we took art instruction into the general classroom as well?


Have you ever noticed that classroom “artwork” is no where near the level of artwork that the same students produce in your art room?  Does it bother you to know that they are capable of so much more?

It bothers me!  That’s why I want to suggest bringing art instruction and aesthetic requirements into the general classroom.  I’m talking about collaborating with general classroom and core subject teachers and enhancing what they are teaching.  This does not mean taking on more projects in the art room, it means using your art expertise to enhance projects outside of the art room. 

For example you could:

  • Provide design-based criteria for an upcoming 4th grade Social Studies travel brochure.
  • Put together a short presentation and checklist for students working on a presidential posters in History class.
  • Create a short video that demonstrates and models observational drawing for the Science teacher to play in Science class.
  • Serve as a guest judge for a Family and Consumer Sciences fashion show or food tasting.
  • Design a rubric that the classroom teacher uses to grade the illustrations of a 2nd grade book report.

We are all extremely busy, but consider this: taking the time to include artistic or aesthetic requirements in the general curriculum is a beautiful way to promote the necessity of your program.  This not only supports students and enhances their learning, this is advocacy from the ground up!

Have you ever collaborated with your colleagues in this way? 

If so, what was your experience?  If not, what is holding you back?

Heather Crockett

Heather is AOE’s Project Manager and an expert in differentiation, curriculum development, and assessment. She is a veteran teacher in the art room and at the graduate level.


  • Tracy

    Heather I love your ideas for collaborating in general education classrooms to help the teachers to set higher standards for the artwork they enhance their curriculum with, but the use of the term Arts integration is not used in its correct form. Arts Integration is teaching the fine arts along with a science, math, reading, etc objective, giving equal weight to both and assessing for both. It is teaching with and through the arts, whether their is a finished artifact at the end is inconsequential to the learning process. There are a wealth of web sites out there that you can use for reference. Two of my favorites are Harvard’s Project Zero and The Kennedy Center’s, both are easy to find and navigate through.

    • Agreed. Not all of my examples fit the true definition of “arts integration” as defined by the Kennedy Center. I could have been more selective with my title and thank you for pointing that out. However, my point is more about the importance of including and supporting the arts in the general classroom. In my opinion art doesn’t have to stay in the art room and art teachers shouldn’t feel like they are always implementing core curriculum… it’s a 2 way street.

  • Heather, love the article! This will be my job exactly next year! Most importantly, I think, you added helping design the rubric. It is “arts enhancement” without meeting and assessing both the other content area and the art form, which is great, but not as powerful as true arts integration. Thanks for the great suggestions!

    • Thanks for explaining the distinction. I stand corrected.

      • No correction needed! I think you are right on track!

  • Charmaine Boggs

    I teach in a Catholic school and have collaborated with the junior high religion teacher on a project that required the students to learn about and paint Byzantine icons. She and I developed a rubric that required the students to assess their learning of both the religion and the art objectives for the unit. This was the most closely integrated unit I have ever developed with another teacher. I have worked with other grade level and subject area teachers, but none of these projects were as closely woven together as the icon project. I think that planning time, or the lack of it, is the main reason I haven’t been able to collaborate as closely with most of the other teachers.

  • Alexandra

    A true arts integration is a 2 way a street, so I agree! I work hard with my colleagues to make sure that kid don’t simply bring writing into the art room, but the classroom teachers bring art history, biography and painting and drawing projects into their rooms too so that the children are truly experiencing arts integration at its best.