This week's blog post writer is Barb Istas. Barb is currently a Learners Edge Curriculum and Instruction Specialist. Prior to joining Learners Edge, Barb was a language arts teacher for 25 years in a large suburban Minnesota school district where she integrated the arts in her daily classroom instruction.
Arts-Integration - A Call to Action!
Teachers, Learners Edge has a STEAM engine rolling into the station! I am all fired-up about a new course we created called STEAM Education: Integrating the Arts into your Classroom, and so excited to share it with every teacher I know.
First things first - you don’t have to be a STEM teacher to connect with STEAM because we can break the philosophy down to the basics and call it “Arts-Integration.” Pure and simple, this is a calling to all teachers: recognize the power of arts in teaching and learning, and tap into higher engagement that comes from creativity and collaboration. Even better - research on brain science and academic achievement supports this call to action!
Think about your own responses and personal connections to art - either through creation, appreciation, or interpretation. How does it make you feel when you are in the presence of art - a song, dance, painting, sculpture, poem, architecture, landscape, digital imagery, etc.?
- All of the above?
Each of these answers leads to the next question: what if we could harness this arts engagement and energy and steer it toward positive academic outcomes?
Are you in? Ready to rev up that STEAM engine in your classroom?
In this course you will review research that supports arts-integration for STEM teachers and all educators. David Sousa and Tom Pilecki, our course textbook authors, have spent their careers promoting education reforms to support all learners, especially those at-risk and needing new connections for learning. This text foundation, along with other resources and application opportunities will help you dive into the powerful philosophy of arts-integration right in your own classroom. Get ready for some arts-inspiration - for both you and your students!
Beyond the research, you will investigate important aspects of learning engaged through the arts, specifically creativity and collaboration. Connecting these 21st Century skills to your academic objectives through art expression is a key goal for arts-integration. This doesn’t have to be a school-wide or district initiative; it can start quite simply in every classroom. Teachers drive arts-integration by incorporating various arts opportunities into lesson plans for any specific content and learning target. This course will help you develop an awareness and guide your first steps in the right direction of arts-integration. Once you experience arts energy and passion along with successful academic outcomes, you will want to add more arts engagement into other parts of your instructional day.
In addition to this great new course, Learners Edge also offers a FREE, on-demand webinar, The "A" in STEAM- Adding in the Arts where teacher colleagues share examples of how, when and where the arts have created high engagement and energized learning for all.
Specifically integrating the arts into STEM instruction (STEAM) is a trend that’s taking hold as educators recognize the important role the arts play in reading development, creativity, constructing meaning, imagination, attention to nuance, perception of relationships, collaboration, spatial thinking, kinesthetic perception, etc. STEM - science, technology, engineering, and math - outcomes will be enhanced when the arts are infused in the content. Powerful productivity and learning will also result from transition times and class-starters infused with arts.
During my classroom teaching career, I remember many instances where the arts led students (and me) to beautiful and powerful outcomes. From reader’s theater on social studies content to poetry about fractions, from nature walks and creative writing to group dance demonstrations of the lunar cycle, from postcard water-color images reflecting Minnesota history to public service announcements created from persuasive writing - students engaged in creative expression of learning with incredible enthusiasm. To be honest, this was just luck based on my teaching style and personal arts enjoyment, not professional intention and implementation based on arts-integration awareness. I can only imagine the impact of intentional arts-integration in my instructional planning! Now, of course, I wish it for all teachers everywhere!
At the start of each school day, we want students to arrive with a positive attitude and connect to learning. Engagement is visible, audible, and palpable with arts in action. Learning blasts on the scene and at the end of each day, teachers feel a sense of accomplishment and optimism that sparks of curiosity and creative expression have started a flame of motivation for school success. You might think this sounds “too good to be true,” but I assure you it’s not. Arts-integration and STEAM instructional strategies are worth your valuable teaching time and attention.
Arts bring learning to life. From pre-K all the way through high school, students crave opportunities to express their learning in new and exciting ways. Explore application strategies for creating STEAM education lessons from regular classroom or STEM lessons to motivate and empower learners of all ages by enrolling in Learners Edge Course 5795: STEAM Education: Integrating the Arts into your Classroom and get ready for art sparks to fly!