5 Ways to Infuse the Arts with Learning
Guest post by Jeanine from Third Grade Giggles
Do you want to motivate and engage your students while sparking their curiosity for learning? Of course you do, that is the mission of every teacher! Infusing the arts within content area lessons is a great way to accomplish this.
Being a classroom teacher in a HOTS public school where arts infused learning is highly valued, gives me the opportunity to achieve this each day. HOTS (higher order thinking) schools follow the belief that students learn through strong arts integration across disciplines. Through an integrated teaching approach, students are motivated and engaged in lessons that are strategically designed to reach all learners, targeting the three main cognitive learning styles-visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Through teacher collaboration and co-teaching between classroom teachers and specialists during weekly HOTS periods, students are knee-deep in learning, practice higher order thinking skills, and are making meaningful connections between classroom curriculum and the arts in creative ways. Here are some ways that I have incorporated the arts into content specific lessons to enhance student learning.
Music and Grammar
What better way to remember what a homophone is, and to learn tricky word meanings, than through a song! During this collaboration, students learned about beats through body rondos and the steps to lyric writing through the expertise of our music teacher. Using what they learned about homophones, students worked in groups to create different lyrical lines to contribute to our class song. Children worked together to decide which sets of tricky homophones should be included. After learning, writing, and singing the students presented their song to other classes to teach them about homophones, too.
Art and Reading Strategies
Getting struggling readers excited about reading can be difficult, but this unit enticed even my most reluctant readers. During this collaborative unit, students learned how to visualize as a reader by using specific words from the text. Next, they learned how to create simple, yet specific, artistic sketches as an artist. Combining what they learned from reading and art, students collected text clues as they read and created sketches representing the most important parts of the text. Students reflected on their work by explaining how their visualization sketch helped them to understand the text more deeply. This simple, yet high level activity truly brought books alive for my struggling readers and visual learners.
Physical Education and Map Skills
Map skills can be tricky to understand when learning from a flat book. Connecting physical education to map skills helped all my students, not just the kinesthetic learners. Students learned about cardinal and intermediate directions during social studies. To practice these directions in action, students played a few rounds of “North Star Scramble” in the gym and were then ready to take what they learned from both settings to navigate through a life sized map, hunting for a “buried treasure.” Using different colored rubber spot markers, the gym was transformed into a map grid. Working in teams, students were given specific directions to follow to find the “buried treasure” hidden under one of the spots. Students headed in all directions, from north, to southwest, hunting for the treasure. They checked their progress with map key clues at different spots. After participating in different variations of treasure hunts, students were experts at cardinal directions and reading maps!
Art and Geometry
Geometry and art are naturally connected, making it easy to infuse art and mathematics together. During this collaboration, students learned how to draw, identify, and distinguish between different polygons based on specific geometric characteristics. Students worked in pairs to create Geometric Riddles and Polygon Wanted Posters, tying both art and mathematics together. One main objective of this unit was for students to differentiate between different quadrilaterals. To show what they learned, students independently created their own Quad Robots. Student robots were drawn using only quadrilaterals, and had to include at least one of each of the different four sided shapes. Students used large paper, rulers, markers and crayons to construct their robot, outlining each shape with black marker. Using a gallery walk, students analyzed each other’s robots, identifying the shapes in each, and using mathematical explanations to support their reasoning. These visual representations were true works of art!
Media and Persuasive Writing
Good writers write about what they know! During this collaboration, students were engaged in a persuasive writing and marketing project about a popular educational website. Students were learning about persuasive writing during writer’s workshop and website evaluation during media class. Combing the two topics, the students worked in cooperative groups to assess a given website and were then tasked with writing and filming a commercial-ad persuading viewers to use that website. This project combined persuasive writing and marketing elements with technology and teamwork. Students worked in collaborative settings to create their commercials using Ipads. The children connected their commercials to art and music by creating artistic props and catchy jingles. This project had all students engaged and learning the ins and outs of persuasive writing!
The benefits of infusing the arts into your lessons are endless! Students are highly motivated, engaged, and are active learners. Through this approach, a strong sense of community develops among the teachers and students involved, improving classroom community, climate, and culture. You don’t have to work at a HOTS school to reap these rewards. You can start in simple ways. Start your mornings off by sharing an image of an art piece to spark meaningful discourse among students. During writing, give students time to illustrate a seasonal scene as inspiration for descriptive writing. And grab my Visualizing Freebie to get started infusing art into your reading lessons today!
Jeanine has worked as a third grade classroom teacher for the past 16 years. She is married to her elementary school crush and has two children, a daughter and son. Together they love to be active outdoors and spend time at the beach. For more resources to engage students in meaningful ways, check out her Teachers Pay Teachers shop, or visit her on Facebook and Pinterest.