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Connecting With the Arts: A Workshop for Middle Grades Teachers

Middle school teachers discover how to integrate the arts - dance and music - with core academic subjects in this video workshop.

See Companion Library:

A Teaching Practices Library, 6-8

A video workshop for grades 6-8 teachers; 8 one-hour video programs, workshop guide, and website.

Connecting With the Arts: A Workshop for Middle Grades Teachers is a video workshop for middle school teachers of the arts and other subjects. The workshop includes eight hour-long video programs and a companion workshop guide and Web site. The workshop shows middle school teachers why and how to integrate the arts (dance, music, theatre, and visual art) with other subjects (language arts, social studies, science, and math). Extensive classroom examples present teachers working together to create rich integrated learning experiences for their students. A roundtable panel of arts educators discusses each of the classroom examples and shares their own experiences with arts integration. The eight programs guide viewers in discussing key elements of arts integration, enabling them to begin integrating the arts more effectively in their own schools. Participants define what arts integration means, plan collaborations with colleagues, clarify student roles in the artistic process, work on designing instruction that helps students explore connecting concepts and big ideas, and examine assessments to determine what students are learning. The workshop provides a stimulating learning experience for individual teachers and professional development groups.

About This Workshop

This video workshop shows middle school teachers why and how to integrate the arts with other subjects, including language arts, social studies, science, and math. Extensive classroom examples present teachers working together to create rich integrated learning experiences for their students. A roundtable panel of arts educators discusses each of the classroom examples and shares their own experiences with arts integration.

The eight programs guide viewers in discussing key elements of arts integration, enabling them to begin integrating the arts more effectively in their own schools. Participants define what arts integration means, plan collaborations with colleagues, clarify student roles in the artistic process, work on designing instruction that helps students explore big ideas, and examine assessments to determine what students are learning.

With this companion website and support materials, Connecting With the Arts: A Workshop for Middle Grades Teachers provides a stimulating learning experience for individual teachers and professional development groups.

Using the Videos and Web Site

Connecting With the Arts: A Workshop for Middle Grades Teachers can be used for individual or group professional development. Together, the video, web activities, and print materials form a vigorous professional development opportunity for teachers. The videos provide examples of arts integration in practice and present provocative discussions by master teachers; the print guide offers questions to guide group discussion, and the online activities help you reflect on your practice.

Watch each one-hour video in its entirety before you begin, or watch it in segments as you take the workshop. The sessions are designed to stand alone or to be completed in sequence. Take one, several, or all eight, depending on your professional development needs and goals.

The guide for each workshop session consists of the following sections:

Title Page and Learning Goals
An overview of the session outlines what you will do and what you can expect to learn by the end of the session.

Getting Ready
A warm-up activity or question for discussion.

Watching the Program
Questions to discuss as you watch the program. Note – pausing the video is recommended!

Activities and Materials
Activities and discussions to engage in after watching the programs. Readings, forms, and charts are listed here as well.

Additional Resources
Web and print references of interest are listed here, with a short description for each.

Technical Notes

To use the Connecting With the Arts Web site, 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.


To print the forms and readings provided, or to print a hard-copy version of the guide, you will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader plug-in.

Facilitator Tips

You can use the workshop to provide professional development activities for teachers in a variety of settings:

  • with seasoned arts and non-arts teachers interested in cross-curricular collaborations
  • with new teachers who are trying to broaden their range of teaching methods
  • in a district or school workshop
  • for individual teacher study of a specific topic, method, or grade level
  • in professional development mentoring programs

The following facilitator tips can enhance the professional development experience:

Designate Responsibilities

Each week, someone should be responsible for facilitating the course sessions. This may be a professional facilitator or a volunteer from among the participants, or you may choose to divide and rotate duties among several participants.

Prepare for the Session and Bring the Necessary Materials

The facilitator should review the entire session in this guide prior to arriving for the session, as well as reviewing the Materials Needed for that session. The facilitator will be responsible for bringing enough materials for all the participants. If you are viewing the video programs on videocassette, the facilitator may want to preview the programs.

Before the First Session

You may want to photocopy this guide for all participants so they may follow along, refer back to ideas covered in the session, or have discussion materials handy. Or, you may direct them to this site to print the guide themselves (direct them to “Support Materials”). Either way, you will want participants to have the guide prior to the first session, so they will come prepared.

Keep an Eye on the Time

We have suggested the amount of time you should spend on each question or activity. These estimates assume a two-hour workshop session – one hour spent watching the video program, and one spent in activities and discussions before, during and after the viewing.

Record Your Discussions

We recommend that someone take notes during each discussion, or even better, that you tape-record the discussions. The notes or audiotapes can serve as make-up materials in case anyone misses a session.

Materials Needed

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

  • A computer or projection display with internet access
  • This workshop print guide
  • Background information about the program, available on the Web site and also in this print guide

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

  • Copies of any handouts for the workshop sessions (available at the end of each set of program materials in this guide)
  • Copies of the discussion questions listed for each workshop session
  • Flip chart and markers
  • Pads and pens for individual notes and reflections

Workshop Program Summaries

1  What Is Arts Integration?
This program presents three instructional models: independent instruction, team teaching, and collaborations with community resources. You’ll explore informal, complementary, and interdependent curricular connections and see examples of what arts integrated instruction looks like in the classroom.

2  Why Integrate the Arts?
This program looks at how integrating the arts with other subjects increases student engagement, addresses diverse learning styles by exploring content in many ways, establishes the relevance of learning for the student, and provides the student alternative ways to communicate.

3  How Do We Collaborate?
This program illustrates a variety of teaching partnerships. You’ll see how teachers integrating the arts can benefit from collaborating with fellow teachers, visiting artists, and community resources.

4  What Roles Do Students Take On?
This program examines the artistic process of creating, performing, and responding. You’ll see students assuming various roles as they research, write, plan, design, direct, create, perform, and critique.

5  What Are Connecting Concepts?
This program presents strategies for planning lessons that integrate the arts with other subjects. You’ll see how teachers organize instruction around themes and through concepts.

6  What’s the Big Idea?
This program is about planning and teaching toward big ideas. You’ll see how arts integrated instruction enables students to make deeply personal connections to what they are learning.

7  Identifying What Students are Learning
This program investigates ways to identify what students have learned in and through the arts. You’ll see teachers using arts-based performance tasks to assess student understanding.

8  Reflecting on Our Practice
This program examines methods for assessing instructional practice. You’ll see teachers reflecting alone and interacting with colleagues to evaluate and refine their planning and teaching.

Related Standards

The classroom examples of arts integration that appear in these workshop programs have been keyed to the McREL Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks, a synthesis of national standards in each of the disciplines. A chart showing these connections can be found on the Standards page of the companion Web site for Connecting With the Arts: A Teaching Practices Library, 6-8.

In addition, helpful guidelines for arts integration are gathered in Authentic Connections: Interdisciplinary Work in the Arts (PDF) . These guidelines were produced in 2002 by the Consortium of National Arts Education Associations, a group that included the American Alliance For Theatre & Education, Music Educators National Conference, National Art Education Association, and the National Dance Education Organization.

Meet the Teachers

Discussion Leaders

Joel Baxley
Director of Visual Art,
Southeast Center for Education in the Arts

Joel is in charge of designing and teaching the visual art components of the professional development programs at SCEA. He also co-teaches a course in arts integration for education majors at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Prior to joining SCEA, Joel was a teaching principal at a facility for adolescents in state custody in Jackson, Tennessee. He also established and taught a visual art program at West Elementary School in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. Joel’s artwork has been recognized in national and local exhibitions, and he has produced illustration and design in print and electronic media for clients in Florida and Tennessee. He has also designed stage sets and scenery for numerous productions with college and community theatre groups.

Joel holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in visual art and English, and a Master of Education in curriculum and instruction from Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tennessee.


Scott Rosenow
Director of Theatre,
Southeast Center for Education in the Arts

Scott is in charge of the theatre elements of the professional development that SCEA presents. As part of his responsibilities at SCEA he co-teaches a course in arts integration for education majors at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Scott has taught and directed at Fossil Ridge High School in Texas and at Buckeye Woods Elementary School and Kilbourne Middle School in Ohio. He directed and taught summer drama programs at Omaha Community Playhouse, Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, and the University of Texas at Austin. During his four years in Hawaii he taught at the Honolulu Theatre for Youth, the Hawaii Baptist Academy, Chaminade University, and the University of Hawaii. Scott’s doctoral dissertation is an exploration of educational drama as a framework for concept-based curriculum integration in the elementary classroom.

Scott holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in theatre arts from California State University, Northridge and a Master of Fine Arts in creative drama and children’s theatre from the University of Texas at Austin. He is working on his doctorate in drama/theatre education at The Ohio State University.


Teacher Participants

Noël Grady-Smith
Dance Teacher
Mineral Springs Middle School
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Noël Grady-Smith is passionate about the arts and the impact of mixing quality arts instruction with creative teaching in the classroom. She attended the College of New Rochelle in New York as a performing arts major for two years before receiving a Bachelor of Arts in education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also received a Dance Education Teaching Certification from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Noël owned and operated a dance studio for thirteen years in Chapel Hill before becoming an itinerant dance teacher for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools in 1989. She has been the dance teacher at Mineral Springs Middle School since 1993, and she is lead dance teacher for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. In this capacity she serves as a mentor and coordinator for 12 other dance educators, while providing demonstration lessons and staff development in her own school. Noël is the first teacher in the United States to receive National Board Certification while teaching full time as a dance educator. She was named National Dance Educator of the Year by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, and she is a past-president of the Dance Association for North Carolina Educators.

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Rachael Hoffman-DacheletRachael Hoffman-Dachelet
Visual Art Teacher
FAIR School (Fine Arts Integrated Resource School)
Crystal, Minnesota

Rachael Hoffman-Dachelet studied photography, painting, drawing, art history, and creative writing, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in visual art. Realizing that the best way to merge all these interests was to become a visual art teacher, she returned to college and received a teaching license and eventually a Master of Education in art education. She was renowned early in her teaching career for making her students write as much for visual art as they did in language arts, and for giving vocabulary and history tests while still expecting high quality art work.

Rachael currently teaches at FAIR School, a fine arts, interdisciplinary, desegregation school near Minneapolis that serves grades 4-8. At FAIR she puts her love of music, her theatrical nature, and her interest in science to good use teaching interdisciplinary visual art classes that find connections among all areas of learning. Rachael had the good fortune to help with the architectural planning committee for FAIR School, which opened in 2000, and she has the coolest art room in the world. When not teaching Rachael can be found in her garden, reading a book, making art, training in the martial arts, or cooking with her family.

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Jane PercivalJane Percival
7th- and 8th-Grade Language Arts/Math Teacher
Hilltown Cooperative Charter School
Haydenville, Massachusetts

Jane Percival has taught for more than 30 years in a variety of settings that include public schools (grades 3-12), and private residential schools (grades 6-12). She has worked primarily with middle-schoolers, the age group with which she began her teaching career and one that she thoroughly enjoys. She has taught in self-contained classrooms, on a four-person instructional team as the language arts and/or science teacher, and in departmental settings as the English teacher or literacy specialist. In 2000, Jane left her position as assistant professor in the Education Department of the University of New Hampshire at Keene to join the Hilltown Cooperative Charter School, a public school in western Massachusetts, where she began the school’s middle school program.

Building on students’ strengths has always been a focus of Jane’s. Therefore, it was inevitable that she would make certain that the arts were integrated into her classroom curriculum, along with the traditional academic subjects for which she was responsible. Early in her career, she found integrating theatre a natural way to help students enter worlds foreign to them and then express their understandings of those worlds. At the Hilltown Cooperative Charter School, Jane plans weekly with her team, including the visual art teacher and music teacher, to integrate the arts consistently into the ongoing program of studies. Jane holds a doctorate degree in education.

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Mary Lou SchweickertMary Lou Schweickert
Band Teacher
Hand Middle School
Columbia, South Carolina

Mary Lou Schweickert is in her 23rd year as the band teacher at Hand Middle School in Columbia, South Carolina. Under Mary Lou’s guidance, the band program at Hand has grown to include well over 200 students each year, and has won the South Carolina Band Directors Association Outstanding Performance Award 12 times.

Mary Lou has been involved in the Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) project at Hand since its inception in 1999, including serving as the project director. The goal of the ABC project is to ensure that every child in South Carolina has access to a quality, comprehensive education in the arts, including dance, drama, music, visual art, and creative writing. Mary Lou is an active performer on the trombone, and has been a member of the South Carolina Philharmonic since 1981. She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in music education from the University of South Carolina.

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Rick WrightRick Wright
6th-Grade Teacher
FAIR School (Fine Arts Integrated Resource School)
Crystal, Minnesota

Rick Wright spent part of his childhood in Europe, where his parents dragged him to art museums. He developed a fascination with the Flemish artists Brueghel, Bosch, and van Eyck. After high school in Bath, Maine, he attended the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. It was during a junior year abroad in Nepal, while teaching English to the children of Tibetan refugees, that he discovered a love of teaching. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education from Augsburg College, and has been a teacher for 13 years. He taught first in inner city Minneapolis, and now teaches at FAIR School near Minneapolis. There, he continues to integrate his love of art into the academic curriculum of sixth grade.

During vacations he and his daughter guide kayak trips on Lake Superior, and the whole family sails on their wooden sailboat, Chrysalis.


Instructional Designers

Southeast Center for Education in the Arts (SCEA)

Located at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, the Southeast Center for Education in the Arts conducts innovative research in comprehensive arts education and school reform. SCEA develops and implements professional development programs enabling educators from kindergarten through college level to establish the rigorous study of the arts as an integral component of basic education for all students. As one of six regional institutes established in 1988 by the Getty Center for Education in the Arts, SCEA pioneered research in discipline-based dance, music, theatre, and visual art education. The Tennessee Arts Commission awarded SCEA its 2003 Governor’s Arts Leadership Award for nurturing creative inquiry into teaching and learning.

SCEA collaborated with Lavine Production Group on The Arts in Every Classroom, a teaching practices library and workshop for elementary school teachers, which began airing on the Annenberg Channel in 2003.

Kim Wheetley, Director

Kim Wheetley, who headed the instructional design team for Connecting With the Arts, holds The University of Tennessee Lyndhurst Chair of Excellence in Arts Education. Kim has taught theatre at the high school and college levels, and was the theatre specialist for the Texas Education Agency. He served on the writing committees for the National Standards for Arts Education and the INTASC Model Standards for Licensing Classroom Teachers and Specialists in the Arts.

Joel Baxley, Director of Visual Art
Scott Rosenow, Director of Theatre
Susanne Burgess, Director of Music


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 series for Annenberg Media, including The Arts in Every Classroom, an elementary level series, 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
Claudia Mogel, segment producer
Jacqueline Delibes, post production coordinator
Carl Anderson, logo and series animation design
Elliot Sokolov, theme music
James Krieger, post production sound
Reynelda Muse, workshop host


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
Julia Hermos, researcher and instructional materials developer
Chad Fasca, writer
Laura Henze, programmer
Terry Baker, arts advisor
Cornelia Brunner, design advisor


Annenberg Media

Karen Gallagher, senior project officer



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 (WA) 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, and 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 (CT) 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, and 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, and administrator of an arts-in-education program.

Support Materials

The complete guide to the workshop is available here for download in PDF. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to read these files. You can download it for free from Adobe.


Program 1: What Is Arts Integration?

Program 2: Why Integrate the Arts?

Program 3: How Do We Collaborate?

Program 4: What Roles Do Students Take On?

Program 5: What are Connecting Concepts?

Program 6: What’s the Big Idea?

Program 7: Identifying What Students Are Learning

Program 8: Reflecting on Our Practice




Copyright © 2005 Annenberg Media. All rights reserved. Legal Policy



Produced by Lavine Production Group, Inc. in collaboration with EDC/s Center for Children and Technology and the Southeast Center for Education in the Arts. 2005.
  • Closed Captioning
  • ISBN: 1-57680-754-1