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Indicators of Quality Arts Integration

In speaking with another educator today, our conversation turned to how we would know that a quality arts integration program was being implemented in schools. Some of the indicators of quality are the level of professional expertise used in the training of teachers to integrate the arts in their classrooms and the purpose of the integration. The following example in Georgia caught my blogging eye as on track to provide a quality professional development experience based on these indicators:

Teachers will be given the tools to thoroughly integrate the fine arts (namely dance/movement, theater/drama, visual arts, and music) into their "everyday" classroom teaching as a creative, imaginative way to help students master (as a method for conveying the important concepts contained in the GPS for math, science, social studies and English language arts) the Georgia Performance Standards, in turn raising standardized test scores. (Read the whole story in the Barrow County News )

Using the arts by integrating them into and across the curriculum as a means to improve test scores may be important, but not essential. What is an essential indicator is the purpose of helping students master the Georgia Performance Standards. Arts integration can do this well, but not without some really good professional development teachers:

ArtsNow/Creating Pride, Inc., based in Atlanta, through funding provided by the Harrison Foundation, will import a staff of world-class professionals to provide the teacher training. ArtsNow, in a partnership established with the Auburn and Bethlehem schools in the summer of 2008, will have widely renowned staff teacher-trainers at the January event from a variety of professional and collegiate-level fine arts organizations, including: the Atlanta Ballet, the High Museum Atlanta, Synchronicity Theater’s Playmaking for Girls Program and nationally-recognized music consultant Maribeth Yoder-White.

So the chance that arts integration will be successful rests squarely on the quality of those who are delivering that professional development, their expertise in their art and the instructional leadership of arts integration examples, such as:

Teachers will explore how various fine and performing arts can convey the GPS content to their young students of varying learning styles. Break-out sessions will focus on arts media like printmaking and additive sculpture as a process not unlike creative writing, or addition/subtraction in math; dramatic engagement and non-verbal communication in theater as a way to demonstrate social studies concepts related to culture; music composition and found-sound instrument making that parallels mathematic process and discovering patterns.

It should be easier to tell or predict the outcome of these activities by the indicators of purpose and leadership in professional developmen. There is lots of research to say why this is so important and the key is to get it done right in order to prepare students for the 21st Century:

Research has confirmed time and again that the arts teach children the skills necessary and valuable for the 21st century workforce: collaboration, creativity, imagination and communication.


Liz Harvey

Glad to know about your blog, Rob. We at SF Bay Visual Thinking Strategies are active in 30 schools, and I also do Arts Integration Coaching at the high school level in visual art. Will be checking in - and when time allows, sharing the work we do!

Best, Liz

Comments are closed. Please see Classroom Solutions, our new blog for the 2009-2010 school year. And stay tuned for Teaching Matters with Angela Bunyi and Beth Newingham.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Strategies for Arts Integration are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.