The Amazing Race: Arts Integration Style

3 Min Read  •  Arts Integration

Recently, I had the opportunity to provide professional development to adult learners.  As the county music resource teacher and a current candidate for administrative certification, I am no stranger to professional development. In my PD experience, I have found that Arts Integration is a natural teaching method for teachers to incorporate into their classrooms.  However, it often becomes convoluted when interlaced with all other PD requirements. For this presentation, I wanted to find a way to make the content relevant. (But I also wanted it to be exciting!)  I found the perfect solution through the use of reality television.

The popular television show, The Amazing Race asks teams to “race” to be the first to solve a series of complex clues and riddles in order to win the game.  Inspired by this show, I formatted my professional development session around this same game concept.  As teachers entered the room, the theme music from the show was being played and the suspense of the unknown could easily be seen.  Placing the adult learners in teams, I handed them a “route information envelope” – similar to the ones participants in the TV show receive.

The teachers looked confused as I calmly walked to my computer, said nothing, and began a timer.  It was apparent that the teachers were not used to this professional development format. Despite that, they quickly adapted to the change.  The teams opened their envelopes and solved riddles to direct them to their first location in the building.

For this professional development experience, I used the following lessons from EducationCloset to serve as tasks in the race:

A Chromebook at each location was set to a student-paced Nearpod lesson.  The task at hand for the teams was to complete two arts integration activities.  The teachers had to document their success by taking videos and pictures using their cell phones and uploading them into a Google Drive. I conveniently set up the tasks in locations in which the rooms had closed-circuit video. Even though there was no sound, the teachers were thoroughly engaged in the activities.  In fact, they began educating themselves about arts integration through hands-on learning.

When the race was complete, the teachers returned to a common space and reflected on their learning experience. It was clear that they enjoyed the new professional development approach and that they acquired new techniques and strategies  that they could immediately put to use in their classrooms.

In fact, two 4th grade teachers found inspiration from the How are Historical Figures and Genres Related portion of the PD.  They allowed their students the opportunity to write raps to report the plot and main idea of the story Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.  Both teachers were excited about how well the activity turned out.  The students were not only engaged but also clearly understood the assignment.  Arts integration was not really being utilized at this particular school.  But since the PD, teachers have been more open to co-planning more AI activities!  They’re even planning enhancement lessons for next year!   Moreover, Arts Integration has helped change the way that I teach and the way the teachers that I work with teach.