The Arts Integration and STEAM Implementation Model is a 9-step framework that provides schools with a sustainable and scalable solution for results-based integration efforts. When used with fidelity, this framework provides schools with a way to authentically connect the arts and content areas with naturally-aligned standards, personalized support for teacher professional development, and high-quality resources that can be used in for teaching and learning.

The Arts Integration and STEAM Implementation Model Overview

Since 2011, The Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM has been providing support for K-12 educators interested in using arts integration and STEAM in their classrooms, schools, and districts. In this capacity, we have worked in hundreds of schools around the globe in both in-person consultation and virtual online professional development.

Over this past decade, schools and teachers have told us they need a variety of supports to make these integration efforts possible, including:

  • Curriculum (lesson plans, curricular supplements, assessments, and standards-alignment resources)
  • Personalized Professional Development (opportunities for teachers with a variety of experience levels in arts integration and STEAM) and
  • Resources (high-quality materials, frameworks, classroom handouts, posters, etc. that align to lessons and standards).

Often, we found that districts were piecing these components together without success. In an attempt to better support these needs, as well as provide a cohesive framework for leveraging each area, we created this Arts Integration and STEAM Implementation Model:

Arts Integration Implementation Wheel 2023


We began using this implementation model with schools in 2019 through our Accelerator platform, and the preliminary results so far have been outstanding. Of the schools using this implementation model, we’re seeing an increase in teacher efficacy, student achievement, and in how the arts are embedded within the school community.

Schools who participate in the Accelerator and utilize this model of implementation with the help of one of our complimentary Support Guides, find the process of using arts integration more sustainable and scalable over the long term.

Since research shows that arts integration efforts are most effective if used for 3 years or more, this model can help ensure schools get to that 3-year mark.

Why We Created This Model

There are already several high-quality national and state-level networks and consortiums doing incredible work in arts integration implementation, some of which include:

The A+ Schools Network

Turnaround Arts Program/CETA from The Kennedy Center

Creativity at the Core

NJPSA Arts Integration Guide

The Implementation Wheel we’ve developed builds on the work these organizations have done over the past several decades. For example, the A+ Essentials from the A+ Schools Network are a fantastic set of commitments schools can use as checkpoints to the structural integrity of their arts integration efforts. The Turnaround Arts Program and CETA offer schools with an opportunity to learn strategies and foundational understandings surrounding arts integration, as well as teaching artist visits who provide real-world context to the relevance of arts education and integration. And Creativity at the Core and NJPSA both offer educators practical resources and tools to help understand and practice arts integration theory.

Our Implementation Wheel is designed to connect all three of these areas – Curriculum, Professional Development, and Resources – in a way that honors where schools currently are and where they desire to be in the future.

The wheel also follows the research of the Concerns-Based Adoption Model through all three dimensions: Innovation Configurations, Stages of Concern, and Levels of Use. The Wheel is meant to provide a context for understanding where an arts integration or STEAM effort is, as well as content for moving it to the next level.

By understanding that all three areas are necessary to see the student achievement, teacher efficacy, and improved social-emotional learning outcomes associated with integrating the arts, as well as providing a framework for implementing these areas, schools can make their arts integration efforts much more successful over the long-term.

How the Wheel Works

The wheel has 3 phases: Curriculum, Professional Development, and Resources. If you look, you’ll find the wheel has an Entry Point for each phase. That’s because each school has a different background in using arts integration or STEAM and may need different things to begin.

For example, a school may already have had teaching artists come to their school and provide professional development opportunities with staff. But the school may not have very many resources developed or tools to begin using the PD on a regular basis. So their entry point would be at Step 7: Resources.

On the other hand, another school may be in need of lessons and assessments to begin using arts integration or STEAM. So their entry point would be Step 1: Lessons.

Once you enter the wheel, the sequential steps help you focus on specific tasks and items to complete and build upon as you move around the wheel. These steps help build an arts integration or STEAM effort intentionally, without overwhelming staff, and ensures the integrity of both the content and the arts areas are being addressed.

The Steps: In-Depth

Below is an overview of each step within each phase. Included are some examples of how you could go through this step. Please note that these are just a few of the possibilities within each step, and it is not an all-inclusive list.



  • Look at model lessons and see how the standards are connected
  • Look for standards that are challenging in your curriculum as a possible opportunity for arts integration
  • Begin connecting standards for your own arts integration lessons.


  • Look at model lessons and see how the assessments are created
  • Review current assessments in both areas to see how they may be used
  • Begin creating assessments for your own arts integration lessons.


  • Begin selecting and using model arts integration lessons 
  • Review model lessons for how they are constructed
  • Begin designing your own arts integration lessons.



  • Bring in a teaching artist and observe their lessons
  • Attend a conference on arts integration or STEAM
  • Observe a peer who is using arts integration or STEAM


  • Take an online foundational arts integration or STEAM course 
  • Attend a course or certification program in AI/STEAM methods
  • Create a course or PD day for others in AI/STEAM practices


  • Attend a PD day or meeting at school on AI/STEAM strategies 
  • Watch workshops online in arts techniques or AI/STEAM content connections
  • Design a survey for teachers to assess their current PD needs and then create/find the PD they request



  • Begin exploring high-quality arts integration and STEAM resources
  • Create a library for all resources and provide access to all educators in your school
  • Create AI/STEAM resources and add to your library


  • Compare resources with current lessons and match ones that align
  • Look through arts integration lessons and make a list of resources needed to support them
  • Create resources to support upcoming arts-integrated lessons


  • Review and use resources and handouts from previous AI/STEAM conferences or PD days
  • Look for and use resources to support planning and assessment efforts
  • Create resources that support upcoming or previous PD

Using the Arts Integration and STEAM Scorecard

Want to know how you’re doing in your implementation efforts? Use this arts integration and STEAM implementation scorecard:


  1. For each of the 9 sections in the outer circles on the Venn diagram, look at the corresponding boxes below.
  2. Read each of the characteristics in the box. Red = basic level. Yellow = intermediate level. Green = Advanced level.
  3. For each color/level, consider which statement is happening for you on a consistent basis (more than 85% of the time).
  4. Select your level (red, yellow, or green) and then place that color in the blank box in the corresponding section in the Venn diagram.
  5. Do this for each section around the Venn diagram.
  6. Use your reds and yellows to identify where your immediate needs are for arts integration and STEAM implementation. Greens show you areas where you are excelling and should continue to support.

Expanding the Implementation Model

The Wheel doesn’t stop once you get through all 9 steps. It can be expanded for another spin around each step. Think of the wheel as a 3-D model, with the first rotation being the base level. After going around the wheel one full rotation, you “level up” as they say in gaming culture and start a new rotation. This time, you’ll go through each step with a different intention.

For example, let’s say you start through the Wheel at step one and you don’t have any previous experience with arts integration or STEAM. Your focus in the Curriculum phase will probably be looking at example lessons, assessments, and finding ones that fit into your current curriculum.

During the second rotation around the wheel, you’ll level up and instead of simply looking at model lessons, you be focused on creating your own. That will mean finding standards alignments, creating your own assessments, and pulling them together in your own lesson plan template. That’s definitely more advanced than in your first rotation, but it makes sense now because you’ve had the experience from the first time around to guide you and expand your thinking.

By the third rotation, you’ll begin creating model lessons and assessments in the Curriculum phase, and sharing those with colleagues – perhaps even modeling them for others.

This same expansion can be done in Phase 2 and Phase 3 as well. This cycle keeps going, helping you dig deeper and make more meaningful progress along the way, without overwhelm.

How We Put this Into Practice

Once we created this implementation model, we created an entire digital platform to put it into practice. The Accelerator is a digital platform for K-12 educators that provides curriculum, professional development, and aligned resources in one space.

This platform has been built from the ground-up to support this model of implementation. All members receive access to 300+ teacher-created lesson plans, accredited online courses, conferences, and workshops for unlimited personalized PD, and over 200+ aligned premium resources that help you take what you’ve learned and put it into action. It’s the only platform of its kind, and we’re so excited by the 2,000 teachers who are currently using it to bring creativity to their classrooms.

More than that, this platform is proof that the model works. Our users are sharing that this framework of arts-integrated curriculum, PD, and resource connections are having positive impacts on student achievement, classroom behaviors, and social-emotional learning. While we work to gather formal data on this model, we’re excited by the positive reception its had so far from K-12 educators and look forward to continuing to work with more schools using this framework in the future.

Additional Support

Looking for more ways to use this Implementation Model? Explore these areas for more support:

The Accelerator for K-12 Teachers
Creative CPR for Teachers Class
Using CBAM to Support Change Efforts