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The Arts In Every Classroom: A Workshop for Elementary School Teachers

Building on New Ideas

More documentary segments show further work by the team members with their students, among themselves, and with colleagues. The end-of-year discussions continue, with team members reflecting on how their new initiatives in the arts have affected them and their schools, and offering advice for other teachers who want to bring the arts into their own classrooms.

An original multi-arts performance gave second-graders the chance to explore metamorphosis at Ridgeway Elementary School in White Plains, New York.

In this program, you will see how the Learner Teams implemented new ideas and expanded arts instruction into the general curriculum at their schools.

  • At Ridgeway Elementary School in White Plains, New York, Learner Team members replicate some of the activities they had experienced in the summer workshop as a first step toward broadening the role of the arts in their curriculum.
  • At Kingsbury Elementary School in Memphis, Tennessee, Learner Team members use several approaches to engage students, including an introduction to costume design, visits from a local dance artist, and analysis of a passage of music.
  • At Drew Model School in Arlington, Virginia, Learner Team members create connections between the arts and other subjects.

In conversations with workshop leader Susanne Burgess, Learner Team members reflect on instructional changes and consider where they’ll go next with the arts.

In this session, you will take on roles from the school community to debate the importance of arts to education. You also will work in pairs to create a work of art that communicates your vision of arts in your classroom.

Key Concepts/Vocabulary

These definitions will help you as you watch these lessons.

  • Constructivism: the belief that learners create their own knowledge structures rather than merely receiving them from others; that knowledge is not simply transmitted from teacher to student, but instead is constructed in the mind of the learner
  • Differentiated instruction: teaching that is adapted to the needs of individual children



When you began your journey exploring the role of the arts in every classroom, you were asked to complete a survey and save a copy of your responses.

Return to the survey and answer the questions again. Compare your initial responses to your current understandings about the arts.


Reading Assignment

The following required readings will support your understanding of Program 8 for the for-credit workshop:

Read the Introduction to the National Standards for Arts Education to learn more about the benefits an arts education can provide.

Learn about how arts education has improved student learning and changed the culture of many schools. Look at these readings:

The following articles can add to your understanding of this material:

  • “Helping Students Ask the Right Questions” by Cynthia Richetti and James Sheerin, Educational Leadership, Volume 57, November 1999. Four strategies help students grapple with complex situations, make decisions, solve problems, and implement solutions. By learning question-based, problem-solving strategies, students become more effective thinkers and learners.
  • “Reconcilable Differences? Standards-Based Teaching and Differentiation” by Carol Ann Tomlinson, Educational Leadership, Volume 58, September 2000. Can addressing students’ individual needs help prepare them to meet high standards? Standards-based instruction and differentiated learning can be compatible approaches in today’s classrooms.


Ongoing Activities

Other enrichment activities can significantly boost your learning. Consider the recommended activities below and choose those that best meet your needs. Time permitting, you might share what you have learned with other participants.

  • Work with your colleagues to develop and implement strategies for achieving your shared vision of the arts in every classroom.
  • Teach the Quidam multi-arts unit of study that was the focus of Programs 1–4. You can download the complete lesson plans from The Arts in Every Classroomworkshop Web site.

Develop your own multi-arts unit of study. Use the following criteria to assist you in your planning:

Criteria for Planning Multi-Arts Instruction
Does the instruction you have planned around a particular subject include:

    • enduring ideas/understandings?
    • measurable learning objectives?
    • correlation with national, state, and local standards?
    • clearly defined formative and summative assessment strategies?
    • appropriate use and introduction of arts vocabulary?
    • developmentally and sequentially appropriate knowledge, skills, and materials?

The following organizations are national voices for arts education in the United States. They have been involved with the development of the National Standards for Arts Education and the Model Standards for Licensing Classroom Teachers and Specialists in the Arts developed by the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium, a program of the Council of Chief State School Officers. To learn more, visit the Web sites of these organizations: