Teaching educators how to integrate the arts

Increasing evidence has indicated that students have a more active, motivating and meaningful learning experience when taught through the arts. That’s why the Fox Cities P.A.C. Classroom Connections Teacher Workshops are designed to prepare educators to integrate the arts into their classroom, resulting in more effective and engaging lessons.

As part of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Partners in Education Program, each year the Center and Appleton Area School District provide several workshops to help prepare educators with arts-integration opportunities. Even if participating educators have never been trained in the arts, these hands-on workshops are presented in a way that makes them confident and comfortable to use the arts as an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Students engage in a creative process which connects and art form and another subject to meet evolving objectives. Taught by professional teaching artists who provide practical tools that promote active investment in the curriculum, these workshops give a fresh and exciting approach to teaching.

This year, Karen Erikson, a Kennedy Center Teaching Artist, worked with educators of all grade levels to capture and reflect student success through well-timed evaluations including arts assessments. 

“The arts, like all other subject areas, need to be assessed fairly and accurately,” Erickson explained about her workshop. “I am hoping the teachers see the value of adding arts assessment to their arts integrated lessons and units of study.  I want them to be able to use what they already know about assessment and be bold enough to try it with the arts content they are covering.”

In the bigger picture, however, Erickson says that integrating the arts into the classroom is about so much more.

“Arts integration provides the vehicle to connect subjects in such a way that students acquire knowledge faster, retain information longer, and are able to see correlations between facts, ideas and content from seemingly disparate subjects.  Because the arts act in this way, teachers can actually save instructional time and go deeper into subject explorations,” Erickson said. “The arts are a vehicle for teaching creative thinking and problem based learning, all attributes teachers strive to infuse into their instructional plan.  (In their writing on teaching and human brain, researchers Renate Nummela) Caine and (Geoffrey) Caine tell us that the brain learns best when it feels safe and is having fun; including arts instruction daily can help achieve that end.”

This is the Center’s sixth season as a Kennedy Center Partners in Education participant. Educators will learn about the 2018-19 Season Classroom Connections Teacher Workshops at our Educator Appreciation Event on May 3.

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