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Arts Integration Speech

This is how Arts Edge defines arts integration: 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 (Arts Edge). Students learn just
as much about different art forms as they do the curriculum. Both subjects reinforce
and expand upon each other. Teachers who have not experienced arts integration
worry that learning about the arts will take more time, and thus take away from the
required curriculum. However, there are many studies that can assure these
teachers that arts integration will actually give more to the curriculum. It will
enhance the subject, as well as motivate students to learn. Arts integration benefits
all students, but it benefits teachers too. When using the arts as a method for
teaching and learning, both teachers and students become more motivated, more
engaged, and more excited to be in school (Arts Edge).
The benefits that arts integration gives students are tremendous. It makes it
possible for teachers to reach students who might be falling through the cracks by
giving them a reason to be engaged in their learning, as well as by giving them
different ways to learn (Fiske). As we have learned, over and over in our studies,
there are multiple intelligences. Students learn in a variety of ways, and as
teachers, we are expected to teach to all of them. Arts integration makes this
possible by allowing students a more hands-on way of experiencing the curriculum
(Fiske). Students become better connected, not only to others, but also to
themselves. They become invested in their learning, and have the opportunity to
really discover who they are (Fiske). School becomes a place to discover, rather
than to sit and listen. Arts integration breaks down the walls in students brains.
They become actively engaged in their learning through the creative process
(Fiske). The creative process begins with creating something. Students then reflect
upon their creation, assess their work, and revise it. It gives students the sense that
learning is dynamic. Students dont learn one fact and just stick with the one fact.
They study it. What they learn evolves over time (Arts Edge). This method of
education teaches students the qualities needed to become successful, such as
flow, self-regulation, identity, and resilience (Fiske). It teaches social skills and
problem solving. Students learn collaboration and communication skills (Arts Edge).
Art offers constant challenges. Those who easily grasp concepts and then become
bored and disinterested are able to find new ways to challenge themselves within
the same topic. They can expand their learning as far as they want to (Fiske).
In her foreword to Into the Story, Alison Preece writes
It works. Ive seen it work. With classes of six year olds; with students in
grade three, and five, and high school; with young adults nervous in a second
language; with student teachers; with the confident; with the cautious.
and Ive been captivated, moved, and surprised, at the responses
generated, at the largeness of what is unleashed, at the sense of satisfaction and
accomplishment that lingers after. At what the dramas make possible. This works.
- Alison Preece (Miller)
She speaks only of drama as an art form here, but I have seen similar responses to
visual and musical arts in the classroom. During the school year of 2015-16 I
participated in the River Rouge Visual Arts Integration Project. We received a grant
to bring pre-service teachers into the elementary and middle school in the River
Rouge school district to teach arts integrated ELA and math lessons to the students.
I worked with 2nd and 3rd grade students, and did ELA the first semester, then math
the second. When we first started, students were all over the place. Many did not
possess the vocabulary to talk through their thoughts or feelings. It was extremely
common for something as simple as one student borrowing a pencil without asking
to end in kicks in the face and black eyes. In fact, our first day there, two kids got in
such an awful fight that other students were throwing up because they were afraid.
We showed the classes pieces of art and worked through artful thinking routines at
the beginning of each lesson. At first it felt like pulling teeth. We would ask
questions like, What do you think is going on in this picture? and receive a list of
colors in response. Students would talk about only what they could clearly see, what
was fact. Slowly, as we added to student responses and pushed towards more in
depth thinking, we received more creative responses. For one unit we asked
students to assign punctuation marks to this picture and explain why. A lot of
students said, Exclamation point because I love fruit! or Comma because when
you name off each fruit you make a list. One student, who normally just listened,
offered, Quotation marks because the oranges might be talking to each other. We
were very excited about the creativity in the response. This student now has a LOT
to say every time we are in the classroom. It is clear to me that not only has arts
integration and artful thinking really improved the students vocabulary, but as they
realize that they can really be creative with their responses, it also boosts their
There was one particular lesson we did that displayed how many connections
students can make when they think about the arts. We started class as usual, by
showing these three pieces of art. We followed an artful thinking routine called
Beginning, Middle, and End. This routine was mentioned in the movie we watched
last class. We asked students to think about where this illustration would fall in a
storythe beginning, the middle, or the end? After they chose, we asked why. Then
we asked what would happen before or after the picture. The students struggled
with this. Many of them connected the picture with a TV show theyd seen, and
when we asked what came before the picture, they told us what show usually came
on before the show they attached to the picture. After talking about the art, each
student received a paper headband, and we taped clocks to them. They had to go
around and ask questions about their time. Other students could show the time with
their hands, or they could say or act out things that happened at that time of day.
Once a student guessed his or her time, we gave them a new one. After each
student had gone through about 5-7 different times, we had them sit down and
listen to some classical music that imitate sounds from clocks. The students ended
up connecting the songs back to the pictures from the beginning of the lesson. They
said, This song reminds me of the picture with the clock tower! It was really
empowering to see this kind of engagement.
That lesson shows that visual arts and drama are not the only useful art
forms in education. Music can be just as engaging for students. There was a study
done on German elementary students. For 18 months, they received 40 minutes of
instrumental music education every week. By the end, they had improved
significantly in verbal learning, verbal delayed recall, and verbal recognition
(Americans for the Arts). In another study Canadian students between 4 and 6 years
of age received daily training in different musical concepts. After 4 weeks, 90% of
them had improved their ability to understand words, as well as explain their
definitions (Americans for the Arts). It has also been shown that learning an
instrument enhances attention, memory, motor skills, and listening skills in young
children (Americans for the Arts).
Arts integrated education is not, however, beneficial only to students. It is
very important to note that teachers also benefit from teaching through the arts.
This methodology provides teachers with a heightened professional satisfaction.
Many teachers have expressed that arts integration reminds them why they were
excited to teach in the first place. Teachers start feeling more efficient in their
lessons, and it motivates them just as much as it does their students.
Arts integration is important and effective. It engages and motivates teachers
and children alike. This way of teaching and learning benefits both parties
intellectually and socially, as well as emotionally. There is not a single subject that
cant be integrated with the arts. There are many possibilities to be explored in the
realm of arts integrated education, and I cant wait to see how it grows as more
schools realize the advantages to building the curriculum this way.

- Arts Edge. "The Kennedy Center: ARTSEDGE - the National Arts and Education

Network." Web.
- Americans for the Arts. "Early Childhood Arts Education Improves Vocabulary,

Communication, and Memory in Young Children." Web.

- Fiske, Edward B. "Champions of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning." Web.
- Miller, Carole S., and Juliana Saxton. Into the Story: Language in Action through

Drama. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2004. Print.