Educators Explore Arts Integration During Summer Institute

By Stacey Ray

As an artist and a program manager working within an organization with a heavy focus on arts education, I have a good sense of what arts integration is all about. But even still, I sometimes have trouble visualizing what arts integration actually looks like in action. I imagine this perspective might be heightened if I were a science, math or social studies teacher. What does it actually mean in practice?

This summer I had the fortunate opportunity of participating in the ArtCore Summer Institute, a four-day training for educators. Teachers in varying disciplines from five area middle schools came together to investigate this very question — to discover methods and strategies for how they might practice arts integration in  their own classrooms.

The institute opened with a conversation on story and equity, and continued with collaborative, hands-on workshops. The UO theatre department welcomed teachers to their costume shop, where they experimented with interpreting ideas through costume design. Others investigated possibilities with theatre and movement. Throughout the institute, participants were encouraged to reflect on their experiences in creative ways, such as the collaborative mural that participants added to through the course of the institute, experiencing how the arts are a natural fit for reflective thinking.

 Teachers and Weavers used basic theatre exercises to investigate empathy and cultures of thinking.

Teachers and Weavers used basic theatre exercises to investigate empathy and cultures of thinking.

Intensive "Deep Dive" sessions took teacher groups along a journey of arts integrated learning across four subject areas: 1) Mathematics and Movement, 2) Social Studies and Theatre, 3) Language Arts and Music, and 4) Science and Visual Arts. Each group experienced first-hand how arts integrated curriculum enhances the learning experience and contributed to a final showcase presenting their creative work.

 A group works together on a mandala as part of a "Deep Dive" session.

A group works together on a mandala as part of a "Deep Dive" session.

The “Science and Visual Arts” Deep Dive explored scientific concepts through collaborative sculpture, with plenty of time for research, group discussion, and reflection. I discovered how exploring science in a creative way impacted my learning experience. Our sculpture focused on explaining divergent and convergent evolution. The process gave us the opportunity to analyze, interpret and share the information in our own way, through a process that was both fun and memorable.

The highlight of the institute was seeing participants take risks, work through challenges and end feeling proud and accomplished. Together, we acknowledged that just as some students might be somewhat uncomfortable with movement or visual arts, others might feel more trapped in a textbook and that allowing for multiple pathways for learning better engages everyone.

Punctuated with bursts of unaltered creativity and expression, the four days ebbed and flowed with moments of reflection, risk-taking, achievement and many happy surprises.

 Everyone was invited to reflect on their experience and add to a colorful collaborative mural.

Everyone was invited to reflect on their experience and add to a colorful collaborative mural.

We invite you to these upcoming professional development events:

Winter Institute | February 3, 2018

Discover how art and creativity can enrich your classroom in this one day institute. Open to all current educators across grade levels at ArtCore schools. Learn more

Northwest Arts Integration Conference | April 21, 2018

All artists, educators, and practitioners are invited to the 2nd annual professional development conference focused on arts integration in K-12 education. This year’s theme “Empowering Student Voice” will explore how arts integrated learning opens doors for all students to participate, engage and grow. Learn more