In this last week before the holiday break, we’ll be focusing short posts on the elements of good Arts Integration lesson design. It is highly recommended that you reference all three posts from this week when working through your next Arts Integration collaborative planning session.
When we start to plan for Arts Integration lessons, it is sometimes difficult to know just where to begin. Finding objectives that naturally align can be a struggle and compounded when attempting to find those fits either individually or as a group. If you are trying to do this alone, you may not have a clear understanding of the standards you are aligning. If you are working at this with a collaborative group, it can sometimes be challenging to arrive at a conscensus that is focused and authentic.
I recommend a few things as you begin your writing process that may help find the elegant fit between the standards:
1. Think Broadly.
Begin by looking at broad topics or practices. A good place to start as an example are within the math practices. By focusing on one broad mathematical practice, it’s much easier to find a natural alignment to one of the artistic elements or standards. You can always narrow and refine your standard as you work through your lesson idea, but starting big helps to get over the initial frustration of where to start.
2. Don’t Let Time Trap You.
Don’t try to find a natural fit within a specific timeframe when you first start out. This will only lead you to try and force something to work because the music teacher happens to be teaching a skill that you could use in your reading class. Instead, understand that many arts standards spiral and repeat throughout the year because they are based on practices which need time and repetition to develop. When you keep this in mind, it frees you to consider some other possibilities throughout the year.
3. Write it Down!
As you begin to find standards that make natural connections, write them down side-by-side and keep a list. You don’t need to write a lesson or a lesson seed for every connection the minute you find it. Instead, if you create a list of aligned objectives and then come back to them throughout the year, you may find it easier to write the lesson because the context leading up to that lesson will be fresh in your mind.
Thinking broadly, taking your time, and writing things down, sets you on the path to creating some authentic and inspiring arts integration lessons!
Susan Riley is the founder and CEO of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and STEAM education.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.