So you are an experienced educator who is new to the Arts Integration approach. You are planning an Arts Integration lesson and you want it to be as successful as possible. What is it you need to do? My advice is to go back to the beginning. Remember when you were in college to become a teacher and you had to write those incredibly detailed lesson plans? Chances are if you have been teaching for a while, your daily lesson plans are not developed to this extent but if you are aiming for AI success, this is where you may want to start.
I was talking with an experienced classroom teacher who was new to Arts Integration. She likened the process of learning how to use Arts Integration to learning a new math or science program. It takes lots of time and thoughtful preparation. I couldn’t agree more. As with anything new, you need to do your homework. If you have been teaching the same grade level for a number of years and know your content and the developmental needs of your students well, you may find that a rough outline of a plan is enough to have a successful lesson. You may jot a few notes in your planner and call it a day. However, if you are new to AI, put yourself in newbie mode and get out that old lesson plan template!
What I am about to write may seem completely obvious but when you put yourself in unfamiliar territory, you may find you are less comfortable going with the flow, taking advantage of teachable moments or adapting your plan to the needs of the learners as the lesson progresses. Addressing the following before you teach may help you feel more confident and, therefore, create a more successful experience for yourself and your students.
- Assess prior knowledge. Know your students and the experience they have with the art form you will be teaching so you know where to start.
- Develop clear objectives for both the content and art areas and know how you plan to assess them.
- Create an anticipatory set. How will you create buy-in or establish relevancy?
- Set realistic time-frames. Assume activities will take more time but be prepared if they take less! Know how much time you will give students to complete tasks.
- Determine all the materials, tools, and space you will need. Be sure you and your students know how to use all the tools and materials or have a plan to teach that as well. Have a plan for the distributing and the clean-up of materials and the moving of furniture and people.
- Practice the process yourself so you can anticipate any issues or clarifications that might be needed in instruction.
- Anticipate issues: early finishers, reluctant artists, technology malfunctions, etc.
- Create the rubric you will use to evaluate the students’ level of mastery of the objective. This will help keep you focused on the objectives if you do need to revise the lesson as you go.
If you address all of the above before you begin teaching chances are if the original plan does not proceed quite as you had expected, you’ll be better able to think on your feet and find another way to reach your learners. The best way to have a successful Arts Integration lesson is to be over-prepared so you can relax and enjoy the process.
Deirdre is a teaching artist and AI coach in the San Diego public schools dedicated to helping classroom teachers make arts an integral part of their teaching. Deirdre has an MEd in Arts Integration and over twenty years of classroom and performing arts teaching experience. Email Deirdre.