Thursday, September 15, 2011

Food for Thought: Integration or Parallel Teaching?

Today I went to a workshop on integrating the arts into the classroom. I thought I was going to be there to learn how to use the core subjects in my art room and the classroom teachers to integrate the arts. I was even a little afraid I'd be bored because hey, I already integrate the core subjects into my art classes. I even teach soon to be teachers, ways to do it when they have their own classes.
But much to my surprise I was wrong----

What I have thought of as integration of arts and core subjects is more like "parallel" teaching. I talk about & do a project about say- Native Americans. I even sometimes, happen to do it at the same time they are covering it in class. But I have now decided that integrating is more than that.

I have long be proud of the fact that I teach so many different things in my art class. But today I was challenged by the fact that maybe I'm not "teaching" the core with my art classes.  I go a long with the core curriculum. I need to add more teaching strategies into my lessons. When we read a story, do we stop and talk about the vocabulary and the meaning of the words for comprehension? Do I have my students write a reflection or artist statement or even a poem or short story? Do we do things like little art science experiments? Could I expand on what I already do and integrate more than one way? Yes.

But there is a catch. I still have to teach my own art standards. So my integration has to come naturally. It also should have significance to the student and you, the teacher. Now this is not my original idea. Our presenters from the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education stressed this idea over and over. By the way I'm glad they did. Because if they hadn't I  might have felt the need to run out and start teaching our math, reading and science curriculum just like the classroom teachers! But I won't, this time. I do think I have a chance to teach or reteach with my own style, topics in my art classes that they also teach in the classroom. Students learn differently and I explain things differently than a lot of classroom teachers. lol

So now I am back to "integrating"or "enhancing" the core curriculum with/in my art classes. Almost but not quite where I started. The difference is that I am rethinking and I have the desire to do more and be a better educator. This old dog is trying out new tricks. I'm doing it to help my students learn. Don't worry I always put Art first.
Now I have some more thinking to do. 



  1. Very interesting post. I had to smile when you were describing how you teach. You were describing how I teach a lesson right down to writing an artist's reflection. The difficulty is, in my opinion, that in order to cover all of those ways of integrating art with core subjects, we have to have more access to our students. I run back to back classes every 45 minutes, 8:45-3:30(with 30 min. for lunch/duty)
    I don't know about you, but my students need to have their creative time and a certain sense of freedom from their regular classroom subjects.If I can sneak in a writing task or a science of art mini-lesson, I will. I just try to make it fun and not stressful. I appreciate your bringing some light to this issue.

  2. I agree with Pat - interesting topic. I guess I do a lot of "parallel" teaching, but the reality is the other is so much more problematic in the art teacher's schedule. The sixth grade teachers do Egypt, and I'll do an Egypt project, but I see the kids once or twice a week and they see them every day. So coordinating so that everything falls together time-wise, and giving time for the stuff that would make it truly integrated would involve time that does not exist. I'd do it if someone would tell me how to stop time! I do teach vocab, but if I spend too much time on this, the kids invariably say "when do we get to paint?" And I agree with what they are feeling. I want their art time to be filled with art-making, experiential learning. I don't so much care that they know the words. Does this make sense?