Back to School: Why You Should Incorporate Art Into Your Curriculum This School Year

Back to School: Why You Should Incorporate Art Into Your Curriculum This School Year

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The skills that the arts develop include creativity, problem solving, critical thinking, communications, self-direction, initiative, and collaboration. All these skills...will be needed by every student in order to survive successfully as an adult in an increasingly complex and technologically driven world.
— From STEM to STEAM; Using Brain-compatible Strategies to Integrate the Arts. David A. Sousa, Tom Pileck

Calling all teachers - this one's for you!

Whether you've been back in class for a couple days or a couple weeks, we have a special call to action for you. While you're busy planning your upcoming units and prepping your curriculum for the new school year, why not find more ways to incorporate art into your school day? Here are three reasons you should add more art into your lesson plans.

1. Help Your Students Develop Critical Thinking Skills

Students can benefit from practicing "reading" multiple kinds of texts - beyond just written texts. By having students analyze visual images, music, even film, you are helping them expand their ability to critically approach various types of media. If students are struggling with written texts, for example, breaking up your unit with some visual analysis can appeal to students who learn in different ways. Adding art into the mix will help students develop cognitive reasoning and analytical skills and improve their learning ability overall.

2. Spark Interest

As mentioned above, we all know that students learn in a variety of ways. Incorporating art history, visual art, or music into your lessons can help spark your students' interest in units that might be hard to digest. Maybe you're looking to add dimension to a particularly dry unit or searching for ways to capture more students' interest - use the arts to create a more well-rounded experience for your students. Studying a particular time period in history? Why not have some popular music from that era/country/culture playing as students file into class? Adding more context to your lessons can help the subject jump off the page and really capture your students' interest and up their investment in what they're learning.

3. Draw Connections Across Disciplines

There are often visual depictions of notable historical events, legends, myths, etc. Including these in your lessons can serve as a helpful visual supplement, but take it a step further - have your students engage with the visual material! Often we simply show students pictures that "illustrate" a historical event, but why not have your students take an extra minute to analyze the image. Who is depicted? Who is left out? Is this consistent with the written history? Whose story is being told - both textually and visually? What can this tell us about how history is constructed and how that reflects societal values? By introducing these kinds of prompting questions, you can help your students engage with the material on a deeper level and draw connections across disciplines.

Beyond history or literature, keep in mind that art, science, and math can also work well together. As Sousa and Pilecki explain, integrating arts-related activities with science, math, and technology (particularly with younger students) can accomplish a great deal, including "[helping] the students to make connections between the arts and sciences and to view these areas as co-equals rather than as any one being more important than the other....when learners see no boundaries limiting fields of study, creativity and genius often flourish."

Intrigued? Keep your eyes on the blog for more posts in the next few weeks with suggestions for tangible ways to add more arts into your school day.

Now, your turn! How do you integrate the arts into your classroom? Comment below and share your stories and advice.

Make sure to take a look at these helpful resources, too!

This is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE blogs! It has amazing resources for art history teachers and teachers of other disciplines alike. http://arthistoryteachingresources.org/

Wonderful books to check out:
From STEM to STEAM: Using Brain-Compatible Strategies to Integrate the Arts by David A. Sousa and Tom Pilecki

Art Education and Human Development by Howard Gardner

A History of Art Education: Intellectual and Social Currents in Teaching the Visual Arts by Arthur D. Efland

"What's So Great About Art, Anyway?" (Teaching for Social Justice) by Rachel Branham

Studio Thinking 2: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education by Lois Hetland, Ellen Winner, Shirley Veenema, Kimberly M. Sheridan

Brand - Artist™

Brand - Artist™

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