Hello, my friends, and welcome back to another episode of Artworks for Teachers. I’m your host, Susan Riley. And if you’re listening to this in real time, it is the week after Thanksgiving. So I can officially say happy holidays, Merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah. It is a joy-filled season. It’s also a season of a lot of stress, right? And so no matter where you are, or if you celebrate, if you don’t celebrate, if you’re an educator, this time of year has so many highs and so many lows. We are, we are trying to get everything put together before winter break. We’re trying to keep the kids all corralled. You know, trying to keep the tiny humans alive is a real thing. So my heart is with you. And I’m cheering you on in the season of gratitude, I guess we’ll say, right. So this week’s episode.
I’m actually going to dig into a process that I usually share in our paid programs. So in our certification program, in our paid workshops, or when I go out to consult. And I decided to share this portion of this work in the podcast because I think it’s essential. I think it is something that everybody needs to understand in order to see true success with Arts Integration. I’ve also seen so many light bulbs go off when I share this simple framework we call the continuum. And I think you’re going to find it super helpful as well. Now, I’ve shared bits and pieces of the Arts Integration Continuum over the years publicly, but today I’m actually gonna dig into the full continuum and give you examples of what that looks like in each area so that you have a very tangible understanding of what each area of the continuum looks like and I’m going to help you understand how do you move from one stage to the next. So like I said this is typically I share this isn’t a paid program it’s very technical it’s very practical but I think if you are someone who is interested in arts integration or using arts integration or excited about creative approaches to learning for our students, you fit somewhere on this continuum and I think it’s essential that you know where so that you can take action that is the best fit for you. Okay so let’s dive in I’m gonna actually share my screen here so if you are watching on video you’ll be able to follow along if you are not on video then I’m going to suggest that you go over to our episode over at artsintegration.com forward slash artworks and download today’s freebie, which is the arts integration continuum card so that you can have exactly what I’m talking about in front of you and kind of move through it. Like I said, tactical guide today. So here’s the deal about arts integration. When I first started decades ago, it’s weird to put an S on that decades ago. It was my understanding that arts integration was all or nothing. And that was really difficult for our teachers in our school to be quite honest. I mean like I was gung-ho to do it and I’m a person who is an all-or-nothing girl. But when you’re working with other humans who operate differently than you do, all or nothing can be really scary.
Because if you do not have the capacity at that moment to take everything in and do it as the Bible says, as the plan says, then you feel like a failure. And so what happened was that as I worked with more schools, more teachers, more districts, as the Institute grew and I started to kind of really dig into the research of this work.
What I discovered was that arts integration really lives on a continuum. It is not a ladder because one is not better than the other. I used to call it a ladder. I think when I first started presenting the research, I put it as a ladder, a step-by-step ladder that you could climb. It’s not really a ladder because a ladder indicates that the bottom and the top rung is the highest or the best, right? And that’s not really true about arts integration. It’s more of a sliding scale. It’s more of a continuum, which is what we call it, because the arts integration continuum has flavors that get more intense as you go along the scale. So if you kind of think of it as a value scale, or like if you were looking at paint colors at your local, hardware store and you start with that, you know, light, soft buttercup yellow and you go all the way to like highlighter yellow. You have different shades and they become more intense the further that you go across the continuum. Does that mean that highlighter yellow is better than that soft buttercup yellow? No. It just means that one is more intense than the other.
So think of it that way. The continuum does slide from left to right, and depending on what you’re doing, it might be more appropriate to be at one side of the scale versus the other. So for example, the scale starts with arts enhancement, and on the far right side, on the other side, it’s arts integration. Sometimes arts integration is not the best fit for a lesson.
Sometimes it really does need to be arts enhancement. And so what the continuum allows us to do is it kind of gives us permission to understand what would be the best fit for what you’re trying to accomplish with your students. And then go from there. It also allows us to self-identify as educators, where are we spending most of our time in the world of arts integration? Which means this is where we’re most comfortable. Now, this is important.
Because if you are an advocate for arts integration, I don’t want you to make the same mistake that I made when I was starting out. Again, I brought it to staff. This is how we have to do it, and this is how everything’s structured, and this is all the things. And my staff just wasn’t ready for it. And so I didn’t take into account where they were, and I didn’t honor that.
So I want you to avoid that mistake. I want you to think about, okay, if I wanna bring this to my staff, if I’m building buy-in, if I’m interested in moving this along and I don’t want it to just be me, I gotta know where are other people in this building comfortable? Do they have previous experience that maybe I don’t know about? Or is this brand new to them? Or are they already doing some of these things and live in one of the pockets of this continuum and maybe they don’t even know it?
That’s really powerful when you can bring this to a staff and use this as a starting spot Okay, so now that I’ve given you a little bit of background, let’s talk about the continuum itself So the continuum has five stages and I want you to think about this left to right if you’re if you’re listening and you’re Not watching. Okay. So on the left on the far left side is arts enhancement This is our basic level. It is our light buttercup shade, right? And so arts enhancement is when you’re using one arts area to support or service another in a lesson. I’m gonna get back to that in a second. On the far right side of the continuum, on the opposite side is arts integration. And this is when a lesson is co-planned by two content teachers and is grounded in equitably teaching and assessing standards in both areas.
Now, do you see what a huge leap it is from arts enhancement to arts integration just by those two definitions, right? It’s a huge jump. And if someone on your team is starting in arts enhancement, or if you are starting in arts enhancement, and then somebody else says, let’s go all the way to arts integration, and you have no stepping stones between them, it’s gonna feel really overwhelming. It’s gonna feel like a stretch, going to feel frustrating because you don’t have the background knowledge to help and scaffold that information. And so what happens is that there’s actually a couple of other steps to help along the way. So after we have arts enhancement, there’s theme-based learning, which is followed by inquiry-driven learning, followed by co-taught learning, and then finally we head back over to arts integration. So the five steps, if you’re following along, are arts enhancement, theme-based instruction, inquiry-driven learning, co-taught instruction, and arts integration. Okay, so those are our five levels. So let’s talk about what each of these levels means, what this effectively means for each of these components. So as I said, arts enhancement is when one…
You’re using one area to service or support another in a lesson. So for example, I always use this example, 50 Nifty United States, I love the song. It helps all of us learn the 50 state names, right? To this day, when I think about the 50 state names, I will go through the song Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, right? I’ll go through the whole song in order to understand or remember the names of the states, which is wonderful, right? I’m using that music piece to help me understand another content area. I’m using the music in service of the real objective, which is to memorize the 50 state names. It’s true when we use our rap to remember our math facts. It’s true when we’re using a shadow box to demonstrate the planets and the order of the planets, right? In these instances, in all of these instances, I’m using the art piece to service the real objective, which is the content piece, the thing that I want the students to know, which is, you know, I want them to memorize their math facts, or I want them to remember the order of the planets, or I want them to remember all 50 statements.
There’s another way that we describe this is to be thinking about a muffin, a blueberry muffin and a cupcake. Um, a cupcake, right? Think about a vanilla cupcake with, um, strawberry icing on the top. Okay. And it’s buttercream icing. It’s the good kind. Um, if you’re like me and my daughter, we will scrape off the icing off the top of the cupcake so that we can save it to the end and eat it by itself. Cause that’s the good stuff, right? Maybe that’s weird to you, but that’s what we do. But when we do that, if we scrape off the icing to save that good stuff for the end, right? The cupcake stays a cake, right? It could stay right where it is. I could put it on my desk. It wouldn’t collapse. It works just on its own, right? Just as a cake. And the icing was just on top of it, which just happened to make it a lot
If I try to take the blueberries out of the muffin, like I took the icing off of the cupcake, what happens to the muffin? It becomes crumbly, it’s a mess, it goes everywhere because the blueberries are baked in. I can’t separate them without destroying the whole muffin. So arts enhancement is like the cupcake. Arts enhancement has the icing on top. If you can separate,
one of those areas from your content. So if you can separate the art from your content and the lesson pretty much stays the same, you can still do the lesson without the artwork or without the music or without the dance, that’s arts enhancement. But if you are doing a lesson and if you take out the artwork or the music or the dance and the whole lesson collapses because it really dependent on that arts component in order to work, then you’ve got an arts integration lesson, then you’ve got a muffin, right? You got a blueberry muffin because it works together. That’s what we mean when we’re saying in service of something that cupcake is a visual illustration of what we mean by in service. You know, the icing is being used in service of delivering that cupcake, right? And it could go either way. If you’re doing an arts lesson,
My arts teachers, if you’re doing a visual art lesson or a music lesson, a theater lesson, and you are integrating with literacy or integrating with math, if you were to take the math or the literacy out of your lesson, would it be able to still stand on its own? Many times the case is yes, because we’re sprinkling on, right? Or we’re layering on a layer of icing with the content area that we’re hooking in with.
This is arts enhancement. Okay, arts enhancement is not bad by the way. Remember, I want you to take that out of your mindset. We’ve been kind of programmed that, oh, that’s low level. That’s not the best that we could do. No, no, no. It’s the light buttercup shade. It’s not good or bad. It’s just, it is what it is, right? Now, here’s what this looks like in terms of teacher planning. In an arts enhancement lesson, there’s little to no discussion between the content on the arts area teachers about the lesson, right? As a music teacher, I could go do this lesson on my own. I don’t have to talk to the math teacher about it. If I am the fourth grade reading teacher, I don’t need to go to the visual art teacher to talk to her about this lesson, because I got it, right? Because I’m writing it on my own, and I’m using it in the art piece in service, okay? So that’s what that looks like in terms of planning.
If I was going to take this in terms of an actual lesson, let’s say I I’m gonna look at building some robotics, right? Or I’m looking at creating something with Legos and I’m thinking ooh, I could work on building a Robot with these Lego pieces and I’m gonna bring in some creativity In terms of the design work and have kids draw their design in order to then make it with the Legos and the circuitry and all that stuff. That is an arts enhancement lesson. Because if I take out the drawing of the design, could they still create their robot? Sure. Could they still just use the Legos? Yeah. So when you start to hear, oh, I’ve done the STEAM lesson or I’ve done an arts integration lesson but all that the arts are a drawing or a sketch or something and that if you took that away, the lesson could stand on its own, that is arts enhancement. Like I said, no shade, no shade, but we gotta call it what it is. Okay, so that’s arts enhancement. Theme-based learning is when you have a lesson that is based upon a theme that’s common into areas.
So a way this could look is that if I was doing a lesson on transformation, okay, I might take a look at transformation in math and take a look at rotation reflections and rotate row. Oh my goodness. I always have this in the top of my mind and I get them confused. Slide to the left. Chris
When I think about these motions in dance, that’s what I’m thinking of. Slide to the left, crisscross, you know, when we do the cha-cha slide. I’m doing translation, rotation, reflection. I had to think about it. See, I used that as a way to jog my own memory. If I’m working on those transformations, okay, rotate, reflect, or rotate reflection, rotation reflection. And then…
Oh my gosh, again, you can tell it’s been a day. But you know what I mean, if you have each of those three pieces, then you understand that’s a piece of transformation, that you are transforming a shape in one of these three ways, right? On the flip side, I could take a look at transformation in dance. What would a transformation in dance look like?
How could I move my body to show a rotation reflection? I could do that in a variety of ways, right? Or if I got a piece of artwork, how could I identify where those transformations occur in the artwork? Or if I look at a science piece, how do we see transformation in the natural world around us perhaps with a cocoon and the butterfly coming out, right?
This idea of transformation is our common theme, and we’re gonna build a lesson around that common theme between two areas. So there might be some discussion surrounding the theme alignment between the content and the arts teacher about the lesson, but not necessarily planning it together just yet.
So if I’m a science teacher and I’m working on transformation of butterflies and how that whole process works from cocoon to butterfly, well, prior to the cocoon even, but from the point where you have the caterpillar to the butterfly, there’s a transformation process. And then I tie that in to movement and looking at how can we transform our bodies from small and maybe on a lower level on the ground to something that is large and spreads out and moves gracefully, right? We could look at transformation in both of those ways. I’m not connecting to standards at all. I’m not really worried about all of that. I’m thinking about this common theme. That is theme-based instruction. Then we have the next step on the continuum. We go to inquiry-driven instruction. So this is when the lesson is both centering on an essential question in both areas. So if I, let’s take that transformation idea that we had from theme-based learning to bump that up into inquiry-driven instruction, I might take a look at what’s an essential question about transformation that would apply to both dance and science. So how can we demonstrate transformation in the world? Right? Or how could we identify transformation when we see it? We could, there are tons of different ways that we could have that essential question and we could explore that from the science side and from the dance side, right?
So when we have this inquiry driven component, now we might be looking at how to solve a problem or investigating it in a variety of different ways and not just in our set content area. So now we might be asking questions about how can we show transformation over time? That solves a problem and you could do that in a variety of ways. You could do it in science, you can do it in math, you can do it in art.
You could do that in music or in theater or in dance. There’s a lot of different ways you could explore that essential question as an inquiry-based learning. So in this routine teachers, there’s usually discussion and planning surrounding that essential question between both the content and the arts area teachers. And there’s possible lesson collaboration because it takes a little bit more, right? In order to answer that essential question, you really do need to have a basic understanding of the content and the arts areas that you’re trying to pull together. So there’s more discussion, there’s more collaboration, you might even get some co-teaching going on, which is our next step on the continuum. So from there, now we go into co-taught learning. This is when a lesson is co-taught by the content teachers in two or more areas. So, if we take our transformation lesson, now we might be co-teaching this lesson with the dance teacher and the science teacher. So both of them are working on this and that can look a couple of different ways. It could look like both of them are in the same classroom during the same lesson period, doing this together as a co-taught lesson. It could be that
Students are exploring the idea of transformation in the essential question and the theme and all of that in the dance class. And when they go to science, they’re also exploring it. But in both of those classes, the teachers are asking them, how could we do this in the other area? So if I’m in dance, my dance teachers, as we’re exploring transformations, how could we show something from science that we’re learning about in science with our bodies that demonstrates transformation. And if I’m in science and I’m the science teacher, how could we use this idea of transformation from caterpillar to butterfly and demonstrate that with our bodies using the idea of high, medium, and low levels and high energy and low energy? See how that gets a little bit more in depth from just show it with your body because now those two teachers are planning together. They’re working together, they have an understanding of what the other is doing, and they’re bringing that vocabulary, they’re bringing that language in for students to work on it. And so whether they’re doing it in the same classroom or in two separate classrooms that then gets put together into a final project, that’s what co-taught learning looks like. So the planning is occurring certainly between the content and the fine arts teachers about the lesson, portions of that lesson can be taught in each area separately and then pulled together in order for the lesson to then be finalized. So that’s co-taught. And then from there, one step further, we get arts integration. So that’s when the lesson is co-planned by the fine arts teacher and the content area teacher and it’s grounded in equitably teaching and assessing the standards in both areas. So let’s take that lesson that we just talked about that has now morphed from a theme-based lesson to an inquiry-driven lesson to a co-taught lesson to bump it up into arts integration. Now we’re gonna take a look at the standards. We’re gonna take a look at the science standards around transformation. What do my students need to be able to do, learn or understand about transformation based on the science standards for the grade that I’m working on. And we’re gonna look at the dance standards. What dance standards are expected of students when it comes to movement at this grade level? In terms of creating a movement or performing a movement. And there are different standards for each of those kinds of topics. So then we’re gonna take a look at, all right, in the science standards, we’re asking our students need to be able to learn and understand the process of moving from caterpillar to butterfly, the transformation process, and they need to be able to identify each stage. Okay, and in dance, it may be that the standard around creating choreography is that students can create choreography that demonstrates high, medium, and low levels. So,
We’re gonna pair that together because we know those two content areas are gonna go together, those two standards are gonna work together. Now, I’m gonna create a lesson that connects those two, that my students are gonna explore the transformation process from a caterpillar to a butterfly. They’re going to understand each of the stages. They’re going to create a dance that demonstrates each of the stages of transformation that leverages high, medium, and low levels of space, and I’d also like them to showcase with their choreography a transition between each of the stages. Okay? Then, I’m going to assess that lesson, and I have to assess both areas, both of the things that I’m asking students to do. So I’m going to assess my students on their knowledge of each of the stages of transformation from caterpillar butterfly and I’m going to assess them on their process of creating choreography that demonstrates high, medium, and low, and that has a transition movement between each of the stages. Now, that’s as simple as a checklist. You don’t have to get complicated here. If you want to put a rubric to it, you can, but you can keep it as simple as did they use, did students use high, medium, and low levels in their choreography? Yes or no, that’s a check, right?
Did they include a transition between each of the stages? Yes or no, that’s a check. I am assessing the standards that I’ve identified for dance and I am assessing the standards that I’ve set up for science, okay? So in this level of integration, planning occurs between content and fine arts area teachers, for sure, about the lesson. The lesson can be co-taught or it can be individually taught within a single classroom so long as the standards are aligned and we’re assessing the standards we’ve aligned at the top. Okay, now hopefully you can see in this demonstration of each of the stages what this looks like, what a lesson could look like from beginning to end. I think I used a different one for enhancement with Legos and everything. If I were gonna use the butterfly and transformation lesson as an arts enhancement lesson, I bet you could guess.
I would be focused on the transformation from caterpillars to butterflies and students knowing each of the stages and then creating a dance to show each of the stages. That’s very similar to what we ended with, but do you see the nuance, the differences that first part, the dance doesn’t have to be there in order for that lesson to be successful. But in the integration lesson, because I’ve tied those standards together and I need to for that transformation to be shown in a way that leverages all of the space that we have in our room and has a transition between each of them. If I take that out, then the lesson really collapses because then it’s just, I have identified the five things. So again, it’s all about the standards alignment over in the arts integration area. Now, you could see how that evolved over time.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, right? So you can decide what’s the best fit for what I want my students to know. Is it an arts enhancement lesson? Or do they really need to apply their learning in a more rigorous way? Maybe we do introduce it as a full arts integration lesson. Or maybe you just wanna explore the questions around it and deepen their thinking and critical thought about the question that you’re asking and having them solve for a problem. In that case, we should be doing an inquiry driven lesson, right? So it’s really a matter of what you need your students to do, demonstrate, and understand to decide where you want to be on this continuum. And then that makes it really easy to determine how the lesson unfolds. What’s also great about this continuum card is that you have a process by which to extend and stretch yourself in your own teaching. So I want you to think right now, which level do you think you’re in? Are you working in arts enhancement for the most part, theme-based learning, inquiry-driven learning, co-taught learning, or integration? Which of those five? Then think about, okay, if I mostly use arts enhancement,
The next step over, the next shade to the right is theme-based learning, right? So how can I take my arts-enhanced lesson and bump it up a little bit by looking at a common theme around that lesson idea that might connect with another content? Just that one thing bumps your lesson over a shade. And so then you can live there for a while. And then when you’re feeling ready, you can bump it a little bit more with another shade over to inquiry-based learning. And so you can move as quickly or as slowly as you want in exploring the continuum across the board. It gives you a lot of freedom, gives you some flexibility and allows you to go at your pace. It also helps you if you’re working with other teachers in your building and they identify in enhancement, theme-based or inquiry-driven instruction, it helps you to help guide them for the next step that would be most appropriate. Because again, we don’t wanna take that huge leap without having the other shades and exploring those other shades and knowing what that looks like, okay? So I hope that this episode was helpful for you in understanding a little bit more about the flavor of arts integration and how we can all live at different spots at different times, and there’s no right or wrong to it but being able to understand what each stage is and then how to move from one stage to another, I think will help all of us have more opportunities for arts integration in the future. So that’s it for me today. If you have not already gone over to our episode show notes, be sure to go over there so that you can download a copy of the continuum and have it in your teacher toolkit. And…
I think that would be super helpful for all of us to keep thinking about how we can continue to push, continue to grow, and while at the same time acknowledging where we are and being okay with that because right where you are is exactly where you should be. All right, my friend, I hope you have a wonderful week ahead and I will be back next week on another episode of Artworks for Teachers.