Brianne Gidcumb | May 2016

Driving Questions for Arts-Based Inquiry: Connecting

In our Driving Questions for Arts Based Inquiry series, we’ve been developing frameworks for inquiry-based learning and project-based learning in and through the arts. Each installment of this series focuses on one of the process strands in the National Core Arts Standards. Those being, creating, performing/presenting/producing, responding, connecting. In this installment, we focus on the fourth strand of the National Core Arts Standards: connecting.

“Connecting” for Arts Based Education

The anchor standards in the connecting strand are as follows:

Anchor Standard 10: Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art.

Anchor Standard 11: Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.

This connecting strand of the National Core Arts Standards is the essence of bringing together the arts and other content areas. It can be used naturally as evidence of learning in project and inquiry based learning. The standards themselves ask students to draw meaningful connections between works of art, self, and society. We ask students to view and assign relevance to works of art through a variety of societal, cultural, and historical lenses and contexts.

The essential questions built into the National Core Arts Standards for each arts content area address the relevance of creating a work of art to our personal lives. In addition to, how the lives of people of various cultures, eras, and places influence art itself. There are innumerable connections to be made, particularly in English Language Arts and Social Studies. We can ask students to create works of art to demonstrate their understanding of cultural, societal, or historical lessons. We can even ask students to create works of art to demonstrate their understanding of related informational or literary texts. We can ask students to curate artifacts, and present these artifacts in a classroom museum.

The connections to ELA and Social Studies are somewhat more organic than those to science and math. However, that’s not to say that we cannot forge those connections. We can have students create a multimedia work to demonstrate process learning through an inquiry experience, through a scientific experiment, or through the creation of a work of art that demonstrates a mathematic or scientific principle. We can ask students to relate mathematical and scientific processes to the artistic process, and thereby assign relevance to other content areas.

When it comes to the connecting strand of the arts standards, stretch yourself to your comfort level in terms of connecting content areas with the arts. If your knowledge of arts areas is somewhat limited, this is a really natural, easy place to begin looking to infuse the arts through social studies and ELA. If you are ready to think outside the box, challenge yourself to deepen those connections for your students and explore the vast possibilities in inquiry through the arts.

 Download the essential questions HERE! Driving Questions Connecting 1

About the Author

Brianne is a former music educator from Chicago and current graduate class instructor with EdCloset’s Learning Studios. She earned her Masters degree in Music Education from VanderCook College of Music and has over a decade of experience in the elementary general music classroom. With her experience in the performing arts, Brianne is dedicated to building connections between the arts and Common Core Standards, 21st century learning skills, inquiry and project-based learning. In addition to her work with EducationCloset, Brianne is a yoga instructor in the Chicagoland area. You can also find Brianne here: