What is Arts Infusion?
Arts infusion is an approach to teaching and learning that integrates skills and content from an art form (dance, music, theater, visual arts, creative writing) with another subject area (mathematics, science, language arts, social studies, etc.). By having instructional objectives in both areas, the goal of this blending is to deepen student understanding in the subject area as well as the art form, allowing both disciplines to mutually support and strengthen each other.
For more information about Arts Infusion, please email Beth Radford , Arts Coordinator, or call 864-594-4470
Imagine these classrooms
History comes alive as a third-grade class creates costumes, props, scenery, and a script to re-enact Revolutionary War battles they are studying.
Geometry connections are made as kindergarten students use famous pieces of artwork to find different shapes and lines. Then, the students create their own masterpiece using various shapes and lines they have studied.
A fifth-grade class uses musical selections and artwork to have a better understanding of the word tone and how it applies to literature.
A group of second-graders create dances to learn about the life cycle of a butterfly. Instead of simply talking about the phases, these students actually become the phases with their bodies.
Why Arts Infusion?
“When well planned and implemented, arts integration is one of the most effective ways for a wide range of students with a wide range or interests, aptitudes, styles, and experiences to form a community of active learners taking responsibility for and ownership of their own learning.”
Arts infusion has many benefits
Arts infusion engages and motivates students by emphasizing active learning rather than passive learning. Understanding that students have different learning styles and various multiple intelligences, the arts generate numerous ways for students to construct and demonstrate their understanding of subject matter.
This approach to teaching gives greater context to students’ learning and makes their educational experiences more meaningful. Instead of seeing each subject in isolation, students discover natural connections among disciplines, while deepening their understandings and synthesizing ideas.
Arts infusion builds a community of learners who discover ways to work purposely and productively in groups.
Arts infusion builds creativity and problem-solving skills where students learn to think “out of the box”. The arts provide multiple modes for students to create, which is the highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy, a multilayered model of classifying thinking according to levels of complexity.
“I liked creating the dance because we got to use our bodies to show magnets. Before the dance, I was confused about like poles and how they are really repelling. The dance helped me learn.”
“I liked making the dance because I got to work with other friends. When I watched other groups’ dances, I pictured the people as actual magnets attracting and repelling. Repelling makes me think of being lonely, and attracting makes me think of happiness because the people are together.”
“In the dance, repelling felt like the other person was an enemy to me, and my facial expression was like there was something nasty beside me. Attracting felt like I was best friends with the other person since I was beside them.”
These are a few thoughts from fourth-graders after experiencing two days of using creative movement to show their understanding of magnets. Earlier, Mrs. Salway’s students learned about magnets through various science experiments. Then, she looked to see if they could apply their knowledge by creating a dance showing properties of magnets. Students began by showing attraction and repulsion individually using two of their body parts. The classroom was full of students in their personal space showing attraction between knees and elbows, hands and heads, etc.
Each time Mrs. Salway gave a different direction, she gave students a 4-count beat to show that property with their bodies. Then, students worked with partners showing attraction, repulsion, and how the attraction strength is strongest at the poles. Students had to show like poles, unlike poles, and how they respond to one another. Finally, students worked in small groups to create a 16-count dance. Every 4-counts had to show something different about magnets. Students were challenged in using their entire body to show creativity in the dance. Each group performed two times. For the second performance, the audience was responsible for holding cards that read either ‘like poles’ or ‘unlike poles’ to demonstrate their understanding of the dance when the performers seemed to attract or repel.
“As we started working with the dances, I realized that students were unclear of the meanings of like and unlike poles even though we had already covered this standard. For example, many groups were associating like poles with “I like you,” so I am attracted to you. This is opposite of magnetic properties. Like poles actually repel. By doing the dance, this helped me assess their understanding and clarify any misunderstandings about magnetic properties.” Mrs. Salway
Do you ever remember sitting in math class and thinking, “This is so…boring.” Well, then you haven’t experienced Mrs. Stoddard and Ms. Heath’s fifth-grade math class. In their geometry unit, students were expected to explore concepts like angle measurement, properties of polygons, rotational symmetry, and transformations. To give context to their learning, the teachers used artwork to teach many of these concepts. Students studied the works from artists like Matisse and Kandinsky to see how they used geometry. Ms. Heath read to students how artists used certain types of lines or shapes to communicate. Students learned how to use protractors and worked in small groups to measure angles and find certain geometric features in the artwork. Throughout the unit, students created ABC books based on the concepts they studied. As a culmination of their studies, students created their own piece of art using what they learned from the unit.
“This unit was so fun. We can discover more things by using artwork rather than just using the textbook. It was a creative experience for students that grabs our attention and allows us to draw and find shapes even in our own art.”
5th grade student
Reading + Music + Math + Visual Art = Meaningful Learning
Mrs. Burchfield & Mrs. McCain’s kindergarten class infused music and art into their reading and math lessons by creating musical chants and artwork as they learned about characters, setting, plot, and geometry. To begin the lesson, the class read the book The Great Gracie Chase by Cynthia Rylant several times. Then, the students created a 3-part musical chant to demonstrate their comprehension of the story. After summarizing the story and revising their work, this is their end product. The students even added motions to their chant to match the text.
Take a few minutes to read the thoughts of some of the teachers, parents, and students to discover how arts infusion has had an impact at Pine Street School.
Shre Srivastava, Parent
Arts infusion has brought out a new side of my child, a creative side that he did not think he possessed. He is more cognizant of how bringing information to life through the arts helps him retain and recall it long after the subject has been studied. Sometimes a boring subject becomes more exciting after seeing it come alive through action. He also has a better appreciation of other people’s learning styles. He is more confident in his ability to speak in front of his class.
My son has learned that sometimes he needs to step up to the plate and become the leader of the group and other times when it is better for him to step back and let someone else take the lead. He has expressed that the class as a whole has bonded like no other class he has ever been a part of and they have become their own community and support system for each other.
Martha Harris, First Grade Teacher
Art infusion allows students to express thoughts, ideas, and concepts in creative ways. It requires students to think, to cooperate, and to lead. I see endless possibilities an art-infused curriculum can offer students. There is a new kind of energy in the building. Students are not burning out – but catching on fire!
Mandy Phillips, Parent
The impact to my son has been noticeable in a number of ways. For such a rules-oriented child, I think it’s been great that he can see there’s not one set way of expressing ideas - that answers don’t always have to come from the teacher’s manual. He has shown remarkable improvement in his ability to think and express himself creatively, and I think he is doing a better job of retaining information he learns in school. Another great result is that his cooperation skills seem to have improved. This teaching approach involves all the students, and they not only learn to work in teams but learn to embrace each other’s strengths and support their weaknesses.
Mac Barrett, Student
Using the arts helps us learn in a fun way, makes the class a team, allows us to be better listeners to our group members as we learn from each other, and makes us excited because we know we’re going to enjoy creating something.
Cathy Burchfield, Kindergarten Teacher
Our students are so engaged in the learning process when they are singing, chanting, and moving. The look on our little ones’ faces tells it all. Arts infusion makes learning fun!
Kathryn Reichwald, Parent
I see great benefits from the arts infusion approach. I see that the playing field is leveled for all students without sacrificing content. This approach reaches students who would not normally benefit from a traditional teaching style because it gives voice to their inner creativity and non-traditional thinking. At the same time, students who have always ‘gotten it’ are challenged to think creatively, critically, and globally. I have seen that this approach can also give an enormous amount of energy and freedom to teachers. It gives them a broad spectrum of tools to use in teaching sometimes difficult ideas.
Alicia Fulmer, Second Grade Teacher
This journey through arts infusion has been an exciting experience for teachers and students. It provides students with a sense of ownership of their work, and teachers with many ways to implement the standards in a more creative and hands-on way.