When students learn through arts integration, they are engaged in experiences in which they actively build and demonstrate their understanding of both the art form and the other curriculum area.
This quote from ArtsEdge, the Kennedy Center’s free digital resource for arts education, is at the heart of arts integration. The characteristics of effective learning through arts integration include active engagement, challenges that require problem solving and "grit”, reflection and revision, and making connections. These tenets of learning are offered by art experiences. The advances in our understanding of the brain and learning, along with the considerable research showing the positive connection between the arts and student achievement, substantiate the power of arts education and integration. As the 21st century unfolds, the skills required success in the workplace demand a shift in teaching and learning.
In order to give all students the opportunity to access the arts, the Technology Enhanced Arts Learning (TEAL) project uses blended learning (online and in-person) to build capacity in arts education throughout Los Angeles County schools with no-cost professional development. Both K-6 pre-service and in-service educators are served by this project. TEAL seeks to redress the minimal attention that arts education has received in the public school curriculum for many years, by delivering engaging and practical professional development, building the confidence and skills that teachers need to develop and use effective arts integration with their students. TEAL offers experiential learning, tools, and resources that combine in-person interaction with virtual instruction and an online community, thus facilitating peer interaction in tandem with the flexibility and accessibility of no-cost, online learning and networking. This model is designed to reach the teachers and students in the 80 school districts and a number of charter school networks throughout Los Angeles County.
TEAL online and in person resources go beyond the five Visual and Performing Arts disciplines to include a separate module and resources on STEAM learning as well as ways in which the arts benefit the social, emotional, and behavioral growth of students in the Social and Emotional Learning through the Arts module.
What are the overall goals of TEAL?
After decades of being seen as expendable in public school education, the Visual and Performing Arts are being recognized as central to learning. Often the first to go with school budget reductions, the valuable role the arts play in learning is affirmed by substantial research. The important role of the arts in children’s’ learning and outcomes is clear. As the 21st century unfolds, it is certain that the skills needed for success in school and postsecondary jobs, in college and career, and as productive citizens, are grounded in critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. The integration of the arts in the curriculum is a powerful approach that supports these "Four Cs", and can be used at all grade levels. In a recent interview, Christine Marmé Thompson, art education professor at Pennsylvania State University, observes "Because works of art are almost always about ‘something’, they can be the glue that binds the curriculum together and helps kids synthesize all of their learning throughout the day.” The integration of the arts with other subject creates a synergy among them, deepening learning and teaching children the interconnectedness of the disciplines.
Who benefits from arts education and integration?
The arts are languages that reach all people at their deepest and most essential human level. Thus, aesthetic literacy is as basic as linguistic literacy. Art is expression that words can’t convey.
Equitable access to the curriculum is a fundamental right of all students. The arts, as expressed in the quote by E.L. Boyer, provides access to students through all of the human senses, including visual, auditory, and kinesthetic elements. In addition to the academic curriculum, multiple social and emotional benefits are conveyed as students learn appropriate means of expression and interaction. Thus, all students can benefit from arts education and integration.
Authentic arts integration involves aligning the learning objectives of an art form (the visual arts, music, dance, theatre, and media arts) with one or more other content areas, while meeting the objectives in both. The use of virtual resources and in-person professional development extends and reinforces the knowledge and skills that teachers and administrators will use to engage their students in the rich opportunities that arts integration offers. TEAL’s blended learning gives districts and school sites the flexibility needed when planning professional development, based on their unique needs.
"Because works of art are almost always about ‘something’, they can be the glue that binds the curriculum together and helps kids synthesize all of their learning throughout the day."Christine Marmé Thompson
Pennsylvania State University