Arts Integration in the PA Distance Curriculum

Posted by PA Distance Learning on 12/10/19 7:00 AM

At PA Distance Learning Charter School, we strive to promote a blended learning curriculum. That means that we integrate various subjects together, allowing teachers to collaborate and bring subjects together in harmony where it benefits the students. All of the PA Distance teachers work in one building in Wexford, Pennsylvania, so working together to integrate their curriculum's is easy and convenient!

Here at PA Distance, we have found that arts integration has proven successful throughout the curriculum and across a variety of subjects.

Ms. Sorce, PA Distance Art teacher, has worked with many PA Distance teachers to integrate art into their curriculum's. Arts integration is known as an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Students engage in a creative process that connects an art form and another subject and meets evolving objectives.

“Arts Integration is important to me because it gives students the chance to have a choice in how they are learning,” Ms. Sorce explained.

“Students who are given arts-integrated options are afforded opportunities to work and think creatively about the concepts that they are learning; this allows them to take an idea that might otherwise be abstract and turn it into something tangible that they can be proud of,” she adds.

Arts integration has been found to benefits students when it comes to their overall success in school. According to Professor John Hattie, researcher and educator, art programs have “the potential to accelerate student achievement”. In his book, Visible Learning, Hattie found 138 influences with positive and negative effects on learning outcomes. (You can watch & listen to his Ted Talk here)

The integration of the arts and other non-creative subjects helps students use a part of their brain that they wouldn’t use otherwise, which helps them retain more information in the work that they do. Students are engaged in a unique and interesting way while completing assignments and demonstrating understanding.

Through arts integration, the arts are a way in which students apply and connect the previously taught content. The arts are not servicing the content but, instead, the content area and the arts area are interconnected.

Most of the teachers at PA Distance have worked with Ms. Sorce to integrate the arts into a lesson or two in their curriculum.

For example, Ms. Hartmann, PA Distance High School social studies teacher, is working on a project where her students learn about art in her classes.

“I am currently adding more music into my lessons to better integrate the arts into my Social Studies classes. Next week I am teaching a lesson on comparing pre and post-World War I music. I have also used music from several Broadway shows and pop music in other classes,” explains Ms. Hartmann.

Students are given the opportunity to vote on a variety of art integration options, Ms. Hartmann explains. Whichever activity gets the most votes is the one that the class will do.

“They liked having the ability to vote on the topic,” Ms. Hartmann said.

Mr. Mysels, PA Distance social studies teacher, is collaborating with Ms. Sorce on a lesson about art and the history of the Holocaust.

“Utilizing art, as a medium to teach, and a way for students to showcase their understanding, puts them in the driver's seat of their own learning. They must analyze, think critically, and oftentimes collaborate to find the meaning and connection behind the piece,” explains Mr. Mysels.

Ms. Colbert, PA Distance High School chemistry teacher, created a lesson where she talked about oxidation and reduction and Ms. Sorce provided pictures of the oxidation and reduction process that is used when firing a soda kiln.

Ms. Pertraglia, PA Distance High School social studies teacher, is currently working on a collaborative lesson involving psychology, perception, and color theory. Ms. Johnston, PA Distance High School English teacher, is working on a ‘Blackout Poetry’ activity that blends art and creative writing for her students.

Ms. Sorce has no shortage of fun and exciting ideas to integrate art into other subjects as well. She hopes to also integrate art with music theory/composition and performance classes once those are added to the PA Distance curriculum down the road.

Arts integration is critical because the approach provides an opportunity to bring back creativity and increase student achievement at the same time.

Check back for more news and updates about art integration in the future!


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