Best Practices in K-12 Arts Integration: Curricular Connections

Best Practices in K-12 Arts Integration: Curricular Connections

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4065-6.ch004


Arts integration is a necessary part of the STREAMSS (science, technology, reading, engineering, art, math, and social studies) curriculum model. Within an arts integrated curriculum, K-12 students can communicate thoughts and emotions through arts criticism, arts history, aesthetics, and arts production/performance. The goal of arts learning is to better understand the self and others through artistic expression about important topics and themes. The arts provide opportunities for students to think independently and critically, to solve real world problems, and to creatively work for a better future. Arts strategies for students encourage reflection, analysis, synthesis of new and existing knowledge, and creative problem solving. Teaching practices and effective strategies integrating the arts for K-12 students are provided for educators to create curriculum using the STREAMSS approach.
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What is arts integration? What is the purpose of teaching and learning through the arts? Learning across the curriculum or interdisciplinary learning includes learning through the arts. Appropriate standards-based arts activities increase student participation and motivation, deepen understanding and engage students cognitively, socio-emotionally and physically in the learning process (Drake & Burns, 2004). Teaching and learning in and through the arts is often accomplished through an arts integrated curriculum. Arts integration is related to interdisciplinary curriculum through a focus on a topic of study allowing students to explore and understand concepts through a variety of disciplines. The focus on the arts includes dance, drama, music and the visual arts. While arts integration connects concepts through a deeper understanding of the skills and processes that engage students in not only the arts disciplines but other content areas (mathematics, science, language arts, and social studies) as well, interdisciplinary learning is a broader term that may or may not focus on bringing the arts into the curriculum (Goldberg, 2016). In the arts integrated approach to curriculum, students engage in ways of knowing that are inherent in the arts forms. Students use the artistic skills and techniques to assist in further exploration of ideas. Many connections are naturally occurring, as the arts guide students in expressing new ideas through processes, skills, techniques, and unique ways of knowing. Often the arts form cultural foundations that communicate meaningful ideas in creative ways. Arts integration allows for self-expression motivating learners to create innovative methods of demonstrating comprehension. The personal realization of creative goals is individualized. The arts are an outlet for learners to express new ideas that cannot be represented in other disciplines. Students have opportunities to observe, discover, imagine, problem solve, invent, and create. The arts are an integral part of learning and life because the arts involve social, philosophical, psychological, historical and contemporary aspects of one’s inspiration, intellect and expression (cognitive, socio-emotional and physical aspects of self). The arts are not separate from life, but are an integral part of life connecting people through common creative goals (Anderson & Milbrandt, 2005). With the philosophy of art as life in mind, educators can create meaningful arts integrated curriculum that enriches student learning.

The objectives of this chapter are:

  • Distinguish the purpose of arts integrated K-12 teaching and learning.

  • Recognize the issues of K-12 arts integrated curriculum and instruction.

  • Identify the strategies of integrating the arts in the K-12 curriculum.

  • Analyze pedagogical methods in K-12 arts education.

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