Providing an Arts-Rich Education for Every Child
The arts are a natural way for children to learn about themselves and the world around them. When provided play opportunities, children naturally tell stories, role play, sing, dance, and draw to make meaning from their life experiences. Each art form is a unique language children use for expression and developing understanding. From the National Core Arts Standards Handbook:
The arts have always served as the distinctive vehicle for discovering who we are. Providing ways of thinking as disciplined as science or math and as disparate as philosophy or literature, the arts are used by and have shaped every culture and individual on earth. They continue to infuse our lives on nearly all levels—generating a significant part of the creative and intellectual capital that drives our economy. The arts inform our lives with meaning every time we experience them. Source.
Children need experience in all the art forms: dance, drama, literary arts, media arts, music, and visual arts. They need artful experiences every day!
Who sees children every day?
Their classroom teacher.
Many classroom teachers (K-6) have effectively used play, song, dance, gesture, modeling, drawing, and creativity to introduce, explore, and assess topics with children. The arts can be an integral element of the schooling experience, and we believe elementary classroom teachers are key to providing children with access to these benefits.
The Mission of the BYU ARTS Partnership
The mission of the BYU ARTS Partnership is to ensure that all children benefit from an education that provides academic excellence, social confidence, and personal expression through experience with the arts. The greatest impact for change will be accomplished through collaborative efforts involving teachers, parents, schools, districts, departments, and universities.
In 2005, we began creating and implementing professional development for elementary teachers to include the arts in their classrooms every day. Our programs appealed to elementary teachers because the arts bring joy to the classroom.
However, it was critical that we not add expectations to their classrooms, already burdened with high-stakes testing and expectations to teach 11 curricular areas. We sought strategies for these non-artists to use the arts to improve areas of critical need in their classrooms. Three areas of focus were prioritized to meet the immediate needs of teachers and students.
Improve the well-being of teachers and students.
Improve literacy skills across the curriculum.
Align pedagogies and frameworks across the curriculum to streamline instruction.
These priorities remain foundational to the vision for arts-integrated instruction in the BYU ARTS Partnership. Additionally, current feedback from our teachers indicates these are still relevant. These priorities provided the foundation for developing the material in this book and our face-to-face professional development programs. (Read more about these priorities in a blog post here.)
Supporting Experiential Learning in the Arts
This book was designed to supplement and support teacher’s experiential and embodied learning in the arts so they can provide the same for students.
The most important thing for a teacher to know is how it feels to participate and benefit from engagement in the arts. Therefore, this book is not an exhaustive resource, but a tool to supplement teachers' transformational experiences when they engage in hands-on, experiential activities in the arts. We hope this book encourages teachers to seek experiential workshops and hands-on learning in the arts, aesthetics, and arts integration.
This textbook was specifically designed to support the face-to-face learning experiences in the BYU ARTS Partnership professional development programs: Arts Leadership Academy, Arts Integration Endorsement Program, Arts Bridge, and Advancing Arts Leadership. This book is meant to support participants in these programs with resources and references related to what they are experiencing in our programs, providing excellent review material for the future. The book includes more material than we can cover in a few years of experiential workshops; we hope it also serves as a springboard for further learning.
While the textbook was designed to support our professional learning programs, it is a resource for elementary classroom teachers everywhere. The content has been developed since 2005 in collaboration between teaching artists, classroom teachers, university professors, school administrators, and instructional designers, most of whom have served on the BYU ARTS Partnership leadership team. Each experienced contributor has spent hundreds of hours working with children and teachers and shares practical resources and best practices for educators and administrators. We hope you find it useful in your work.
Determining Your Own Learning Priorities
This book was designed to support a variety of learning needs and to differentiate for the widely varied background knowledge of adult learners. Our learning outcomes were designed with the same need in mind. Read more about our philosophy of differentiating arts instruction for adult education in this blog post.
The learning outcomes that inform our programs and this book were created on a grid that interweaves and overlaps the development of basic art skills, arts pedagogy, and leadership skills. See our learning outcomes here. Along the horizontal axis of the grid are personal skills, pedagogical skills, and leadership skills. On the vertical axis is arts learning, learning through the arts, and arts integration. Teachers on the journey to developing an arts-integrated practice will enter from various entry points and self-navigate through the learning. This is the same approach you can use when using this book.
This book will help readers on their journey to master any of the learning outcomes mentioned above. You can use this book as a whole volume to understand the potential of arts integration to serve student learning and classroom culture, or you can use this book in parts to focus attention on what is most relevant to you in the present moment. Whether starting from the top or diving into the middle, this book will provide classroom teachers with practical tips and tricks they can implement today, tomorrow, next month, or next year. The possibilities are endless when you’re an innovative teacher dedicated to artful teaching in the classroom.
We hope this book propels you on your learning journey to recognize the strengths, gifts, and creativity you already possess and encourages you to new paths and pedagogies that will benefit you, your students, and your community.