"I FOUND i COULD SAY THINGS WITH COLOR AND SHAPES THAT i COULDN'T SAY ANY OTHER WAY... THINGS i HAD NO WORDS FOR." - gEORGIA O'KEEFFE

Sometimes there just aren't words to express our thoughts.  Sometimes words just aren't enough.  Our students may feel just that way.  They may need other outlets for expressing their thoughts and feelings.  Arts integration is way of teaching through the arts.  It is not a substitution for teaching the arts.  The arts must be respected as a subject in and of themselves.  Arts integration is a method of teaching that embraces the power of the arts.  The arts of visual art, music, drama and dance have the power to motivate, mediate, and challenge by providing authentic learning experiences.

 

MOTIVATE – The arts are naturally engaging. They require students to participate in a hands-on way.  Any time that a student is asked to express their own ideas through an art form, they must actively participate in the learning process.  In this way, the student becomes a part of his/her learning experience. 

Most people are motivated when they are allowed choices. The arts require choice.  For example, the visual artist must choose which media technique he/she will use.  In this way, the arts motivate learners to engage in the topic being discussed.  The learner must become immersed in the topic.  They begin to own the information.

 

MEDIATE – The arts allow students to engage in meaningful conversations about topics being taught.  In order for a group to successfully present a dramatic presentation, they must first listen, cooperate and support. Through this experience they learn to respect the strengths of others.  Perhaps of even greater importance is the fact that also through this cooperative experience, they learn to respect the different ways of learning and knowing. 

 

CHALLENGE – “Children learn most powerfully from doing, not just hearing about, any subject.” (Zemelman et. al., 2005)  When a student is taught through arts integration, they experience the learning.  They are challenged to meet the expectation of the art form.  For example any time that a student is asked to write a song about a topic, the student must first fully investigate the topic, understand it, and then invent the lyrics and rhythm.  They must fully investigate the topic being taught and it gives them an authentic purpose for learning.

An added bonus of this challenge is that teaching through the arts allows for individualized instruction.  Therefore, many different learning needs and styles can be met within the same classroom walls.

Source:   Zemelman, Daniels, Hyde. 2005. Best Pracitce. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Brandy Terrill

Instructor, Salisbury University

Salisbury, Maryland USA