Arts Integration: Fusing Fine Arts and All Other Learning
Arts integration is simply the fusing of the fine arts and all other learning. Through its simplicity, it provides endless opportunities to breathe life into the daily rituals of school, bridging content that is often siloed in individual classrooms and providing opportunities for students to see how the world is interconnected.
In practice, arts integration is often a term that is used loosely to describe varying approaches to merging the fine arts and foundation curricula. To build a shared understanding, the HISD Fine Arts Department has built on a few of the strongest definitions across the region and the country by defining arts integration as:
A holistic approach to teaching that intentionally fuses learning in the arts with all other content areas, creating a dynamic learning environment that leads to a well-rounded, engaging education in support of the whole child.
High-quality arts integration:
- Is quality teaching, aligning with the characteristics articulated in HISD’s Effective Practices;
- Is intentionally cross curricular, cultivating content mastery in both the foundation and fine arts subjects increasingly over time; and
- Creates a dynamic learning environment that promotes rigor and engagement through:
- Support of the whole child,
- Frequent and consistent cultivation,
- Range of scope (large-scale projects to smaller lesson elements),
- Holistic fine arts engagement (students create, investigate, and witness),
- Embrace of all four fine arts disciplines, and
- Support from arts specialists, including fine arts teachers and teaching artists.
Arts Integration is an approach to teaching that can be used by any educator in their field of expertise and is not limited to a certain grade level or subject. When educators establish a fully-integration classroom, they create a dynamic and engaging learning environment that fuels new discoveries and an ever-growing awareness of the connections between subjects while generating opportunities for students to create and express themselves.
Additional benefits include:
- A safe and supportive classroom environment that encourages creative risk taking
- Engaging activities that promote language acquisition
- Natural development of Social and Emotional Learning competencies
- Developing trust by establishing peer-to-peer relationships between students and teachers as each party shares artistic ideas and includes the other in their creative process within a safe space
- Participatory classroom-management tools
- Opportunities for formative and summative assessment
Arts Integration is most successful when foundation and fine arts teachers work in close coordination with the support of campus leaders and district support. Outside arts organizations and teaching artists also play a crucial role in providing unique expertise through partnerships with professional and collegiate artists. (See Arts-Rich Ecosystem for more information.)
 Explore “The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)” for more information, casel.org.