an Immersive Arts-Integration Model for Middle Schools

ArtCore is a 4-year model development and research initiative that joins community-based teaching artists and creative professionals with middle school teachers to develop arts-based teaching and learning customized to meet the needs and goals of the school. 

ArtCore is based on the notion that we are all inherently creative. We each have something significant to contribute, in a way that uniquely defines us. This is exactly the type of transformative work that will engage students in learning.
— Liora Sponko, Executive Director of Lane Arts Council

Many previous arts integration initiatives have been short-term or challenging to sustain. To establish an evolving but comprehensive approach, distinct innovations of the ArtCore model include: 

  • Staged implementation for gradual schoolwide transformation
  • Technology-driven access for professional growth and personal inquiry
  • Key motivational factors to sustain individual and institutional innovation
  • Intentional integration of creative disciplines, academic domains, and standards
  • Backwards mapping design that builds skill and understanding towards a convergent key concept
  • Art and creativity as a process of experiencing and contributing to the world, uniquely, and a key step to engaged learning
  • Prototyped learning modules developed and documented for expansion and replication 
  • Rigorous research design and broad dissemination of insights and challenges to move education forward


For schools seeking creative engagement, grit, and growth-oriented mindset as key outcomes of success, the resulting outcome accelerates fragmented arts integration towards a comprehensive, sustainable, and cohesive schoolwide change model. Guided by a staged implementation, the model contextualizes to fit each unique school community and their existing infrastructure.

Teaching artists from the community participate to generate unique arts integration learning modules, driven by standards and guided by expertise in music, dance, theater, and visual arts disciplines. With guidance, training, and curated resources, teaching artists and classroom teachers will develop and facilitate multi-week modules that integrate academic learning objectives, creative inquiry skills, and familiarity and skill in different art disciplines. These efforts to make teaching and learning come alive through exploration and creation in the arts are captured in professionally produced video vignettes. 

Students of all ages are innately driven to learn. They want to understand, to relate, and to re-imagine their world. Learning models that promote arts-integrated inquiry reconnect students to their intrinsic drive.
— Ross Anderson, Project Director & Principal Investigator

Given the current educational policy environment driven by test-based accountability, this research agenda will provide schools with valid, actionable, alternative measures that reflect the growth of their students’ skills and dispositions, critical to success. These data will provide the means to tell a new story about student readiness and achievement for participating middle schools. This more comprehensive and inclusive depiction of student skills, knowledge, and talent and educator innovation and collaboration will be meaningful to the broad community that holds the school accountable for impact and improvement. 

As the project evolves, unique integrative teaching approaches, dynamic training experiences, and customized school design strategies and implementation will be thoroughly documented for school leaders in the future who wish to replicate the model for their school community.