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Connecting With the Arts: A Workshop for Middle Grades Teachers

How Do We Collaborate?

This program illustrates a variety of teaching partnerships. Participants will see how teachers integrating the arts can benefit from collaborating with fellow teachers, partnering with visiting artists, and drawing on community resources.

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Learning Goals

The goals of this workshop are for you to:
  • Understand how collaborative partnerships can aid curriculum planning and instruction
  • Plan ways to incorporate teaching partnerships into your practice

This workshop program focuses on a key element of arts integration: collaborative partnerships between teachers. In the program you’ll see teachers collaborating with fellow teachers, partnering with visiting artists, and drawing on community resources.

See Related Teaching Practices Library Programs:

Revealing Character
Folk Tales Transformed
Analyzing a Culture – The Story Continues

Getting Ready

Read and discuss the following quotation: (10 minutes)

“Properly conceived, the arts constitute a great integrating force in the school curriculum. To achieve such an end they must be viewed as a component of every discipline, for their subject matter is as broad as life itself.”

Charles Flower. Strong Arts, Strong Schools, 1996

Discuss these questions:

  • How true does this statement seem to you?
  • Where have you seen elements of this at your school?
  • Is this a worthwhile and achievable goal to strive for? Why or why not?

Watching the Program

Consider the following questions as you watch the program. If you are part of a professional development group, consider stopping the video to discuss each question with your colleagues.

  • How can you find ways to collaborate with other teachers?
  • How can you collaborate with outside artists?
  • How can resources in your community provide stimulating arts experiences for your students?

Activities and Discussion

Activity: Workshop Discussion

Hold a discussion about what collaboration looks like in participants’ schools. (10 minutes)

Be sure to talk about the challenges, realities, and logistics of collaborative planning and teaching, as well as the benefits.

Apply what you’ve seen in the program to your own teaching. (40 minutes)

Break into discussion groups, with each group concentrating on a particular segment of the program. Have groups report the highlights of their conversations to the group as a whole.

Questions for Segment One:

  • What strengths did you notice about the partnership that exists between the two teachers in the Who’s Coming to Dinner segment? What problems?
  • Describe a teaching partnership you or colleagues have been involved in. What were some similarities and differences between this and the one seen in the Who’s Coming to Dinner segment?

Questions for Segment Two:

  • In this segment, how successful did the collaboration between the teacher and visiting artist appear to be?
  • Describe an experience you have had collaborating with a visiting artist. Was it a positive experience for you? Your students? The Visiting Artist? Why or why not?
  • What skills or preparation or resources that one needs to make a collaboration with a visiting artist successful?

Questions for Segment Three:

  • How can an institution, such as the museum that appears in this segment, extent the learning environment beyond the school?
  • What are some cultural institutions that play a role in your own teaching practices? Do you considered these “collaborations”? Why or why not?
  • There were a lot of teachers working on the project in this segment. What challenges would arise at your school in managing such an extensive collaboration?

Additional Resources

Web Resources

Integrative Curriculum in a Standards-Based World
An article suggesting how middle schools can reap the benefits of genuine student-centered, integrative curriculum and instruction

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
The National Board’s influential teaching standards, including early adolescent generalist standards

What Makes Interdisciplinary Teams Effective?
An article identifying the practices that teams engage in and how this influences instruction and student learning

Print Resources

Buckley, Francis. Team Teaching: What, Why and How? London : Sage Publications, 1999. ISBN: 0761907440

This book covers the nature, purpose, types, history, and evaluation of team teaching, as well as the resources needed and the roles of teachers, students, and administrators.

Burnaford, Gail, Aprill, Arnold, & Weiss, Cynthia. (Eds).Renaissance in the Classroom: Arts Integration and Meaningful Learning. Mahwah , N.J. : Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2001. ISBN: 0805838198

A nuts-and-bolts guide to arts integration across the curriculum in grades K-12, describing how students, teachers, and artists get started with arts integration, and then go beyond the typical “unit” to engage in the arts throughout the school year.

Danielson, Charlotte. Enhancing Student Achievement: A Framework for School Improvement. Alexandria, Va. : Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development; 2002. ISBN: 0871206919

Using the four critical criteria for successful school improvement, Danielson outlines everything that educators have to do to ensure optimum student learning, including school organization, team planning, and teaching practices.


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