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Connecting with the Arts: A Teaching Practices Library, 6-8

This video library features a variety of approaches to integrating the arts in middle school classrooms nationwide.

See Companion Workshop:

A Workshop for Middle Grades Teachers

A video library for grades 6-8 teachers; 12 half-hour video programs, library guide, and website.

Connecting With the Arts: A Teaching Practices Library, 6-8 includes 12 half-hour programs that feature a variety of meaningful arts integration approaches taking place in middle school classrooms around the country. The programs provide windows into classrooms around the country where teachers have already incorporated arts integration strategies into their work. Programs feature extensive classroom sequences and teachers telling their own stories. In each program, arts specialists and subject-area teachers will find ideas and projects they can take back to their own classrooms, as well as insights into planning and implementing an integrated curriculum.

About this Video Library

This teaching practices library is a resource for teachers interested in integrating the arts into their curriculum. Through the library’s programs, viewers visit classrooms around the country where arts specialists and other subject-area teachers are collaborating to make student learning more meaningful. In each program, participating teachers tell their own arts integration stories, providing ideas, activities, and insights that viewers can take back to their own classrooms.

Using the Videos and Website

This teaching practices library presents successful approaches to arts integration being pursued by middle school educators around the United States. The video programs, along with this Web site and the print guide, provide a wealth of practical strategies and examples of arts integration that viewers can adapt to their own settings.

You can watch the video programs online on this site. Print materials can be downloaded from this site.

Viewing Suggestions

Who Should Watch

  • Teachers – to aid in curriculum planning or professional development.
  • Preservice teachers – to observe actual classroom events.
  • Teacher educators and professional development providers — to enhance their instruction, introducing preservice teachers to the realities of middle school arts integration. Each program could be used as a case study to examine and assess teacher planning and implementation, teacher and student attitudes, and the ways in which each lesson succeeds or could be improved.
  • Administrators – including supervisors, principals, and group or team leaders.
  • Community educators – to disseminate to parents and community members as examples of what successful arts integration can look like in middle school.
Here are some of the ways you can use these programs:
  • For professional development — Districts, schools, or teacher teams that want to integrate the arts with other areas of study can use the library programs to build instructional skills in various aspects of arts integration. Use one or more programs for inservice courses or workshop sessions, watch a program as part of a team or department meeting, and make individual programs available for teachers to view on their own.
  • For parent and community information — By highlighting middle schools that have greatly enhanced students’ experiences through the arts, these library programs make strong statements about the value of arts integration that can speak powerfully to parents and community members.
  • As a supplement to the companion workshop — These library programs illustrate in greater detail the concepts and lessons explored in the companion workshop programs.

Tips for Facilitators

The library programs can be viewed on their own or in combination with other programs. The half-hour length of the programs makes them easy to use as a discussion starter or as the heart of a presentation. Here are some suggestions for making your presentation successful:

  • Set your objectives. Why are you showing this program to this audience? What is the insight, information, or skills that you want viewers to come away with?
  • Know your audience. What are participants’ interests, goals, and biases? Anticipate how they might react to the program, and plan how you would answer possible questions.
  • Build a presentation. Plan how you will use the library program to achieve your objectives. Identify aspects of the program that you especially want the audience to see, and draw their attention to these things before you watch the program. You may wish to distribute in advance discussion questions (those provided in the print guide or your own) that the audience can consider while viewing the program. After the program has ended, take a few minutes to discuss it before you move on.
  • Know the topic. Use this Web site to learn more about the schools, teachers, and lessons in these programs. The site offers additional resources, including Web links, for each program.
  • Prepare the audience. Provide participants with information that can help them get the most out of the program. For example, you might distribute profiles of the featured teachers or schools. This information is available in the print guide and on this Web site.

Materials Needed

To use these library programs for professional development, you will need the following materials:

  • The appropriate videotapes/DVDs
  • A television monitor and videocassette/DVD player or computer
  • The library print guide
  • Background information about the program, available in the print guide and also provided on this Web site

For professional development, team-building sessions, or facilitated discussions, you also may need:

  • Copies of your own learning objectives and the discussion questions listed in the print guide
  • Flip chart and markers
  • Pads and pens for individual notes and reflections

Technical Notes To use the Connecting With the Arts teaching practices library, we recommend the following:

Web Browser Javascript should be enabled, if your browser allows you to disable it. Text fonts and colors may not be displayed correctly in older browsers.

Plug-insTo print the resources provided, or to print a hard-copy version of this guide, you will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader plug-in.  Adobe Acrobat Reader

Program Summaries

Program 1: Revealing Character
A language arts teacher and a visual art teacher ask eighth-graders to demonstrate their understanding of a novel’s characters by creating unusual ceramic place settings.

Program 2: Breathing Life Into Myths
Puppetry provides a lively way for a language arts teacher to engage her sixth-graders in exploring Greek myths.   For help with puppetry techniques, she draws on the expertise of her school’s theatre teacher.

Program 3: Two Dance Collaborations
In a first-time collaboration, a dance teacher and a science teacher combine forces to explore the laws of motion with a seventh- and eighth grade dance class.   At another school, a dance teacher and a math teacher work with sixth-graders on imaginative interpretations of the idea of circles.

Program 4: Constructing a Community
A visual art teacher and a social studies teacher use the distinctive architecture and history of their school’s neighborhood to help eighth-graders see their community in a new light.

Program 5: Making Connections
Teachers of music, visual art, and theatre build thoughtful connections to topics their seventh-graders are working on in social studies and language arts.

Program 6: Exploring Our Town
Seventh- and eighth-grade students explore Thornton Wilder’s classic play Our Town from the perspectives of theatre, visual art, music, language arts, and social studies.

Program 7: Creating a Culture – The Story Begins
Sixth-graders develop their own cultures, complete with language, clothing, artwork, and rituals.   Weeks of hard work culminate in a surprising twist.   This program is the first of two parts.

Program 8: Analyzing a Culture – The Story Continues
Students become archeologists, analyzing artifacts from other student-created cultures.   They then design a museum exhibit from those artifacts.   This program is the second of two parts.

Program 9: Folk Tales Transformed
A visiting theatre artist works with a language arts teacher and a visual art teacher to help eighth-graders transform folk tales into original scenes that the students perform.

Program 10: Preserving a Place for the Arts
When faced with budget cuts, the staff of a rural middle school finds innovative ways to keep the arts a viable part of the curriculum.

Program 11: Can Frogs Dance?
A dance teacher and a science teacher ask seventh-graders to compare the anatomy of frogs and humans.   Then a language arts teacher coaches the students in a lively debate about whether a frog should be allowed to join a ballet company.

Program 12: Finding Your Voice
Drawing on themes of conflict and genocide that eighth-graders are studying in their World Cultures class, four arts teachers organize an interdisciplinary unit that encourages students to use their artwork as a form of protest.

What is Arts Integration?

Arts integration combines curriculum and teaching among dance, music, theatre, and visual art, and interconnects the arts with non-arts subjects.

Integration takes many forms as teachers from different subject areas collaborate for rich curricular connections.

Table showing forms of arts integation

 

Forms of arts integration definitions

INSTRUCTIONAL MODELS

  • Independent: Teachers in different disciplines teach in their own classrooms.
  • Team Teaching: Two or more teachers plan and teach together.
  • Community Resources: Teachers work with artists, educators, and other resources from the community.

CURRICULAR CONNECTIONS

  • Informal: Connections are informal, with the arts sometimes supplementing learning in other subjects.
  • Complementary: There are links between the arts and other subjects. One area may be emphasized more than another.
  • Interdependent: All subjects receive equal attention, with each discipline supporting the others.

Why Integrate With the Arts?

As many teachers know, meaningful integration of the arts with other subjects is a valuable key to student engagement and success in the middle grades. Teaching the arts in conjunction with other subjects helps create flexible thinkers, and encourages students to synthesize new relationships between ideas. It also reinforces the arts as core subjects in their own right.

Arts integration enables students to:

  • Discover natural connections among subject areas
  • Deepen understanding of important concepts that transcend individual disciplines
  • Engage in the artistic processes of creating, performing, and responding
  • Think and work using aural, visual, and kinetic modalities Communicate using various media and symbol systems
  • Combine knowledge and methods from different disciplines
  • Apply what they learn in one area to challenges encountered in another.

Major Subjects and Standards Addressed in the Programs

Select a program to see standards addressed in each discipline.

All standards are taken from the McREL Compendium of Standards and Benchmarksa synthesis of national standards in each of the disciplines.

Arts Standards Non-Arts Standards
Program Titles Dance Music Theatre Visual Arts Language Arts Math Science Social Studies*
Revealing
Character
X X
Breathing
Life Into Myths
X X
Two
Dance Collaborations
X X X
Making
Connections
X X X X X
Constructing a Community X X
Exploring
Our Town
X X X X X
Creating
a Culture—The Story Begins
X X X X X X
Analyzing a Culture—The Story Continues X X X
Folk
Tales Transformed
X X X
Preserving
a Place for the Arts
X X X X
Can
Frogs Dance?
X X X
Finding
Your Voice
X X X X X X

* Includes Geography, World History and Behavioral Studies standards

REVEALING CHARACTER
Visual Arts
Standard 2: Knows how to use structures (e.g., sensory qualities, organizational principles, expressive features) and functions of art

Language Arts
Standard 6: Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of literary texts

 

BREATHING LIFE INTO MYTHS
Theatre
Standard 1: Demonstrates competence in writing scripts

Language Arts
Standard 6: Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of literary texts

 

TWO DANCE COLLABORATIONS
Dance
Standard 2: Understands choreographic principles, processes, and structures

Mathematics
Standard 5: Understands and applies basic and advanced properties of the concepts of geometry

Physical Science
Standard 10: Understands forces and motion

 

MAKING CONNECTIONS
Music
Standard 7: Understands the relationship between music and history and culture

Theatre
Standard 6: Understands the context in which theatre, film, television, and electronic media are performed today as well as in the past

Visual Arts
Standard 3: Knows a range of subject matter, symbols, and potential ideas in the visual arts

Language Arts
Standard 5: Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process

World History
Standard 41: Understands the causes and global consequences of World War II

 

CONSTRUCTING A COMMUNITY
Visual Arts
Standard 4: Understands the visual arts in relation to history and cultures

Geography
Standard 6: Understands that culture and experience influence people’s perceptions of places and regions

 

EXPLORING OUR TOWN
Music
Standard 7: Understands the relationship between music and history and culture

Theatre
Standard 2: Uses acting skills

Visual Arts
Standard 1: Understands and applies media, techniques, and processes related to the visual arts

Language Arts
Standard 6: Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of literary texts

Behavioral Studies
Standard 1: Understands that group and cultural influences contribute to human development, identity, and behavior

 

CREATING A CULTURE – THE STORY BEGINS
Music
Standard 7: Understands the relationship between music and history and culture

Theatre
Standard 6: Understands the context in which theatre, film, television, and electronic media are performed today as well as in the past

Visual Arts
Standard 2: Knows how to use structures (e.g., sensory qualities, organizational principles, expressive features) and functions of art

Language Arts
Standard 8: Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes

Math
Standard 4: Understands and applies basic and advanced properties of the concepts of measurement

Behavioral Studies
Standard 2: Understands various meanings of social group, general implications of group membership, and different ways that groups function

 

ANALYZING A CULTURE – THE STORY CONTINUES
Visual Arts
Standard 4: Understands the visual arts in relation to history and cultures

Language Arts
Standard 9: Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media

World History
Standard 1 [World History]: Understands the biological and cultural processes that shaped the earliest human communities

 

FOLK TALES TRANSFORMED
Theatre
Standard 2: Uses acting skills

Visual Arts
Standard 1: Understands and applies media, techniques, and processes related to the visual arts

Language Arts
Standard 1: Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process

 

PRESERVING A PLACE FOR THE ARTS
Dance
Standard 1: Identifies and demonstrates movement elements and skills in performing dance.

Visual Arts
Standard 3: Knows a range of subject matter, symbols, and potential ideas in the visual arts

Language Arts
Standard 1: Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process

Science
Standard 8: Understands the structure and properties of matter

 

CAN FROGS DANCE?
Dance
Standard 1: Identifies and demonstrates movement elements and skills in performing dance

Language Arts
Standard 8: Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes

Science
Standard 7: Understands biological evolution and the diversity of life

 

FINDING YOUR VOICE
Dance
Standard 3: Understands dance as a way to create and communicate meaning

Music
Standard 7: Understands the relationship between music and history and culture

Theatre
Standard 5: Understands how informal and formal theatre, film, television, and electronic media productions create and communicate meaning

Visual Arts
Standard 3: Knows a range of subject matter, symbols, and potential ideas in the visual arts

Language Arts
Standard 9: Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media

Behavioral Studies
Standard 4: Understands conflict, cooperation, and interdependence among individuals, groups, and institutions

Resources for Arts Education

Print Resources

Barrett, J. R., C.W. McCoy, and K. Veblen. Sound Ways Of Knowing:Music In The Interdisciplinary Curriculum. Schirmer Books, 1997 ISBN: 0028645308

Blecher, Sharon, and Kathy Jaffee. Weaving In The Arts: Widening The Learning Circle. Heinemann, 1998 ISBN: 0325000328

Burnaford, Gail, Arnold Aprill, and Cynthia Weiss. Renaissance In The Classroom: Arts Integration And Meaningful Learning. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2001 ISBN: 0805838198

Campbell, Dorothy, and Linda Harris. Collaborative Theme Building: How Teachers Write Integrated Curriculum. Pearson Allyn & Bacon, 2000 ISBN: 0205323545

Clark, Edward. Designing & Implementing an Integrated Curriculum: A Student-Centered Approach. Holistic Education Press 1996 ISBN: 0962723274

Cornett, Claudia. Creating Meaning Through Literature and the Arts: An Integration Resource for Classroom Teachers (2nd Edition). Prentice Hall, 2002 ISBN: 0130977772

Drake, Susan. Creating Integrated Curriculum: Proven Ways to Increase Student Learning. Corwin Press, 1998 ISBN: 0803967179

Erickson, H. Lynn. Concept-Based Curriculum And Instruction: Teaching Beyond The Facts. Corwin Press, 2002 ISBN: 0761946403

Erickson, H. Lynn. Stirring The Head, Heart, And Soul: Redefining Curriculum And Instruction. (2nd ed.). Corwin Press, 2000 ISBN: 080396885X

Flynn, Robert and Eugene McKinney. Paul Baker and the Integration of Abilities. Texas Christian University Press, 2003 ISBN: 0875652719

Garland, Trudi Hammel. Math and Music: Harmonious Connections. Dale Seymour, 1995 ISBN: 0866518290

Greene, Maxine. Releasing The Imagination: Essays On Education, The Arts, And Social Change. Jossey-Bass, 2000 ISBN: 0787952915

Jacobs, Heidi Hayes. Interdisciplinary Curriculum: Design And Implementation. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1989 ISBN: 0871201658

Jacobs, Heidi Hayes. Mapping the Big Picture: Integrating Curriculum & Assessment K-12. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1997 ISBN: 0871202867

Levene, Donna. Music Through Children’s Literature: Theme And Variations.Teachers Ideas Press, 1993 ISBN: 1563080214

Rolheiser, Carol. Beyond Monet: The Artful Science of Instructional Integration. Barrie Bennett, 2002 ISBN: 0969538839

Wolf, Dennie Palmer and Danna Balick. Art Works!: Interdisciplinary Learning Powered By The Arts. Heinemann, 1999 ISBN: 0325001162

Websites

ArtsEdge
http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/
resources to help educators to teach in, through and about the arts

ArtsEdNet
http://www.getty.edu/artsednet/
Getty’s art education web site

Arts Education Partnership
http://aep-arts.org/
a national coalition that promotes the essential role of the arts in the learning

CAREI – Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement
http://education.umn.edu/CAREI/
educational research and evaluation

CET Cincinnati – Arts Initiatives
http://www.cetconnect.org/cet-arts/
resources to help educators integrate the arts across the curricula

Discovery Channel Online
http://www.discovery.com

a guide to the cable channel’s daily programming and instructional materials

Discovery Channel School
http://school.discovery.com/
fresh ideas to enhance learning for parents, teachers and students

Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network
http://kennedy-center.org/education/kcaaen/
an information exchange for arts education policy

Lincoln Center Institute for the Arts in Education
http://www.lcinstitute.org/
an experiential approach that supports broader learning across the curriculum

Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning
http://www.mcrel.org/
field-tested, research-based products and services for PreK-16 education

National Endowment for the Arts
http://www.nea.gov/
information about programs, projects, exhibits and performances


New Horizons for Learning
http://www.newhorizons.org/
an international network of people, programs, and products dedicated to successful, innovative learning

Perpich Center for Arts Education
http://perpich.mn.gov/
innovative public education, centered in the arts

Southeast Center for Education in the Arts
https://www.utc.edu/southeast-center-education-arts/index.php
professional development and instructional materials on discipline-based arts education and arts integration

Credits

Annenberg Media
Karen Gallagher, Senior Project Officer

Project Advisors

Mary Belfi, National Board certified visual art teacher at a public middle school in New York City for 33 years; instructor in art education at Hofstra University

Deborah Brzoska, design coach for the Small Schools Initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; founding principal of the Vancouver (Wash.) School of Arts and Academics; group leader for the arts for the National Assessment of Educational Progress

Richard Deasy, director of the Arts Education Partnership in Washington, D.C.

Stephen Gonzales, Denver Public Schools manager of curriculum and instruction for music education and advanced placement; middle and high school instrumental music specialist

Mac Arthur Goodwin, president of the National Art Education Association; board member of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; middle and high school visual art teacher; Special Consultant in arts education to the South Carolina Department of Education

Joseph Juliano, Jr., director of fine arts for the Hamden (Conn.) School District; past president of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education; chair of the Interdisciplinary Committee of the Consortium of National Arts Education Associations

Donald Killeen, national program manager of the National Arts Education Consortium at The Ohio State University; national project director for the Transforming Education Through the Arts Challenge, a national education reform initiative

Marilyn Stewart, professor of art education at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania; general editor of Davis Publications’ Art Education in Practice series

Hank Troy, professional musician; former social studies teacher; co-founder of a public arts magnet school in Denver; administrator of an arts-in-education program.

 

Production Team

Lavine Production Group
Project Management and Video Production

Lavine Production Group, based in New York City, specializes in documentary films and television programs about education and the arts. LPG has created several professional development programs for Annenberg Media, including The Arts in Every Classroom, an elementary level workshop and library, and The Missing Link, for middle grades math teachers. LPG has also produced programs for PBS, the Arts & Entertainment Network, and Reader’s Digest.

Kaye Lavine, project director and executive producer
Miriam Lewin, series producer
Gary Bradley, supervising editor
Laura Young, editor
David Hogoboom, director of photography
Elizabeth Elson, segment producer, post production supervisor
Shae Isaacs, segment producer
Claudia Mogel, segment producer
Alexandra Pomeroy, segment producer
Jacueline Delibes, post production coordinator
Carl Anderson, logo and series animation design
Eliot Sokolov, theme music
James Krieger, post production sound

Southeast Center for Education in the Arts (SCEA)
Content and Instructional Advisors

Located at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, SCEA is a think tank and laboratory for creative inquiry into teaching and learning via all the arts. SCEA provides professional development for teachers of the arts, including training in arts integration.

Kim Wheetley, director
Joel Baxley, director of visual art
Scott Rosenow, director of theatre
Susanne Burgess, director of music

EDC Center for Children and Technology
Print Materials and Web Development

EDC’s Center for Children and Technology investigates how technology can influence and enhance teaching and learning across a wide range of educational settings. CCT conducts basic, applied and formative research, working in collaboration with educational, corporate, government, and research institutions. CCT also designs and develops prototype software and instructional resources that support engaged, active learning.

Bill Tally, director of research and Web development
John Parris, designer and visual editor
Julia Hermos, researcher and instructional materials developer
Chad Fasca, writer
Michael R. Prince, web developer
Laura Henze, Flash programmer
Terry Baker, arts advisor
Cornelia Brunner, design advisor

Programs