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Connecting With the Arts: A Workshop for Middle Grades Teachers

What is Arts Integration?

This program presents three instructional models for integrating the arts: independent instruction, team-teaching, and collaborations with community resources. Participants will also explore informal, complementary, and interdependent curricular connections, and see examples of what these different types of arts-integrated instruction look like in the classroom.

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Learning Goals

The goals of this workshop are for you to:
  • Deepen your own definition of arts integration
  • Clarify why you think it is important

In this workshop session, you’ll explore different approaches to arts integration, and consider which is the best fit for you and your colleagues. The program presents three instructional models for integrating the arts: independent instruction, team-teaching, and collaborations with community resources. You’ll also explore three types of curricular connections used in integrating the arts: informal, complementary, and interdependent.



Getting Ready

Define what arts integration means to you, then read and discuss the following quotation: (10 minutes)

“Arts integration is …

arts learning that is deeply immersed in other content areas.
a strategy to move the arts off the sidelines of education.
a negotiation between the learner and the community.
a way of thinking about learning and teaching.
a way to teach beyond the standards.
not an island.”

From Renaissance in the Classroom: Arts Integration and Meaningful Learning


  • Which of these definitions resonates most closely with your own? Which is different?
  • How might these definitions expand your own notion of what arts integration is?

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.

  • What experiences have influenced your interest in arts integration?
  • How could you make informal connections with other content areas in your school?
  • How can contact with another subject benefit your instruction?
  • In integrated instruction, when is it best to teach alone, and when could team-teaching be beneficial?
  • How can integration strengthen your instruction and deepen student understanding of the content you teach?

Activities and Discussion

Activity: Inventory Your Integrated Teaching


Participants may be unaware of the ways their teaching already draws on multiple disciplines. This exercise encourages teachers on both sides of the arts and non-arts divide to listen actively to one another, and find connections between the things they care about and do.

Complete a Self-Inventory of Your Integrated Teaching (15 minutes)

Distribute copies of the Integrated Teaching Self-Inventory (PDF) and have each participant fill it out. This is good way for participants to get prepared for the next step.

Describe your integrated teaching to the group. (20 minutes)

Participants should describe for the group an example of the integrated teaching they do. They should identify which of these collaborative approaches they use most often:

Independent Instruction
Teachers in different disciplines teach in their own classrooms.
Two or more teachers plan and teach together.
Community Resources
Teachers work with artists, educators, and other local resources such as museums


Summarize the integrated teaching that the group already does. (15 minutes)

Ask the group to help summarize the kinds of integrated teaching they already do. Consider these questions:

  • What disciplinary interconnections are most common? Why?
  • What types of collaboration are most prevalent – teaching independently, team teaching? Why?
  • What new or surprising things did you learn about your colleagues’ work outside their own discipline? How might you build on this?

Additional Resources

Web Resources

Authentic Connections: Interdisciplinary Work in the Arts (PDF)
A document aimed at assisting and supporting educators in interdisciplinary work, and at clarifying how the arts can be taught through interdisciplinary content standards

Curriculum Integration: Middle School Educators Meeting the Needs of Young Adolescents
A Web site on curriculum integration including concise overviews of major developmental and applied theorists

Learning Through The Arts (PDF)
A guide to arts learning from the National Endowment for the Arts

Print Resources

Beane, James A. Curriculum Integration: Designing the Core of Democratic Education. New York : Teachers College Press, 1997. ISBN: 080773683X

James Beane details the history of curriculum integration and analyzes current critiques to provide a complete theory of curriculum integration.

Eisner, Elliot W. The Arts and the Creation of Mind. New Haven , Conn. : Yale University Press, 2002. ISBN: 0300095236

The author describes how various forms of thinking are evoked, developed, and refined through the arts.


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