Collaborative Planning Framework

By |2018-10-07T11:23:17+00:00April 1st, 2018|

The purpose of collaborative planning in arts integration is to work together across content and arts areas in order to analyze student strengths and challenges. It can also help to develop arts-integrated lessons which address both areas equitably.

This means that educators from both the content-area/grade-level classroom and the arts educator(s) must be present. They must come to the planning table ready to provide insights and possible suggestions for an integrated unit or lesson.  This can be a challenge when there’s little to no context prior to your planning time.



The possibilities for how to set-up collaborative planning are endless. The most ideal situation would be dedicated planning time when both educators can work together face-to-face. But there are other options that can be used to supplement or support this model. Especially due to time-constraints, schedules and staffing, the ideal situation is not always feasible.

If this is a scenario you face, alternatives could be answering the framework questions or standard alignments through email or in an online community (such as Blackboard, Google Docs, etc). This frontloaded planning can help to save time when you are able to meet face-to-face.

We provide the Pre-Planning and Collaborative Planning Matrices to our Accelerator Members.  But I’ll walk you through the process of how you can use these yourself.



Start by filling out the pre-planning matrix individually.  That means that the content teacher and the arts teacher should complete this before coming to the actual collaborative planning meeting.  Agree on a single theme, like “transformation” prior to getting started.   Move from left to right to help you begin to focus on your specific topic for an arts-integrated unit/lesson. Be sure to think about each question from your content perspective.  This gives you a clear understanding on what you can bring to the collaborative planning process.



After completing the pre-planning matrix, then it’s time to come together at the collaborative planning table. Now you can compare your notes with each other, as well as identify any common themes, skills or processes that emerged from your brainstorm. Use that analysis to determine what lesson/unit you will plan, what standards you will align, and the assessments you will use. If at all possible, do this face-to-face.



Now you’re ready to use your collaborative planning matrix to design your lesson. Fill in each of the components, implement the lesson (either together or in the classroom) and use the assessments to drive your next pre-planning session.


This simple framework can save you significant time when it comes to creating arts integration and STEAM lessons.  By making the most of the time you have together, you free yourselves up to be infinitely more creative in the process.





Susan Riley is the founder and President of 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 Arts and the Common Core.

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.

Email Susan


  1. Lucinda Phillippi April 16, 2018 at 6:47 am - Reply

    For high school much more difficult to plan for collaboration.

    • Susan Riley April 17, 2018 at 6:33 am - Reply

      Agreed, Cindy! But I’ve seen this planning framework document used successfully at the high school level, too. Like all things though, this doesn’t live in a bubble. Lots of things factor in like administrator buy-in, community support and a commitment to looking at scheduling differently.

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