Last week, sixty-six elementary school teachers completed the BYU ARTS Partnership’s Arts Integration Endorsement Course. The two-year program provides training in the arts, aesthetics, arts education, and arts integration. Participants expressed pride, joy, and accomplishment as they shared their personal journey in the arts. Excerpts from homework assignments and final sessions (held via Zoom) demonstrate how deepening their experience with the arts changed these teachers’ perspectives and level of engagement, as well as inspired a creative approach to teaching.
“The arts were an absolutely refreshing break from the regurgitated methods of other professional development programs. Because of what I learned in the course, I gained a completely new perspective of my students. My teaching struggled as I followed school-mandated programs. Applying the arts lessons and practices in the classroom gave me a new toolbox and mindset that filled the years-long gaps in my teaching. –Brandon Parks“I felt rejuvenated as I came to class each week. As I applied my learning, I quickly discovered that by adding a little of the arts to my classroom, my students and I were more excited to be there. I enjoyed teaching more and they enjoyed learning more.” –Vanessa Black
Self-Study and Teacher Research
During the last semester, the culminating activity of the course is a self-study project. Self-study is a systematic form of research that allows teachers to deeply examine their own teaching practice. Looking closely at the strategies they use in the classroom helps teachers gain a deeper understanding of daily teaching habits, encourages self-advocacy and develops better teaching. Completing the course and engaging in the process of self-evaluation transforms classroom teachers into more fully-developed, professional educators with an arts-integration endorsement attached to their teaching license.
Below are summaries of a few of the self-studies conducted by the participants of the 2018-2020 Arts Integration Endorsement Course. As you join the journey of these educators by reading the results of their learning, we hope you feel the transformative power of the arts and notice how arts learning deeply impacted their personal lives, classroom perspectives, and professional experience. Find more inspiration for integrating the arts in the links throughout the post!
First Grade, Rock Canyon Elementary School, Provo City School District
Tami Anderson used video, observation, lesson plans, written reflections, and field notes of conversations with her critical friend to answer her self-study question: “What do I know about pantomime and tableau to engage students during vocabulary instruction?” She synthesized her learning to five points:
- Learning how to pantomime is difficult for first graders, but not impossible. Over time and with practice they get very good at it.
- My critical friend suggested making all the words visible to the students during the pantomime performances.
- Observably, one hundred percent of my students were absorbed and excited to use the dramatic arts to express comprehension AND engagement.
- Comprehension and retention of the word meaning was doubled. Students started using the vocabulary words in their conversations and in their writing.
- I heard students cheer and say, “Yay! It’s Tuesday! Time for pantomime!” There were students who asked me if it was time for vocabulary.
Tami concluded her self-study with the following reflection:
“This self-study held great relevance for me personally because I remembered how much fun it can be to teach hard things. I felt reinvigorated in my role as the students’ teacher. I realized that if I am not personally presenting an engaging lesson, then my students are not engaged either. This self-study was significantly relevant on a professional level, because I actually measured (through video, fieldnotes, and review) my improvement as an educator. I’ve added new tools to my professional collection. The self-study was a very beneficial experience and I’d do it again in the future.” Find more drama integration ideas here.
Fourth Grade, Valley View Elementary, Alpine School District
Rita Lewis looked at incorporating the six art forms into her teaching practice for read-alouds. She questioned whether her students would show a measurable increase in literacy achievement. Collecting over a dozen artifacts used as formative assessments during the read-aloud, including video data, student reflections, student journal entries, class and one-on-one interviews, and student surveys, as well as her note-taking, reflections, and a single summative assessment (computer-based comprehension and vocabulary quiz), she discovered the following results:
- Incorporating the arts into my instruction taps into my students’ abilities and different learning styles.
- The arts opened up a whole new world of books to my students who read at different levels.
- The different art forms allow students to make connections to the text and promote higher-level thinking and communication, in contrast to a direct read-aloud.
- Collaboration, communication, citizenship, and creativity naturally surfaced in the class because the students were intrigued and vested in each of the art-infused activities.
As she reflected on her self-study, Rita explains:
“I found new excitement and engagement within myself as I taught. I went out on some uncomfortable limbs with dance and drama as a teacher, and I was surprised at the full involvement and buy-in from my students. I conquered my fears. The day of students sitting at their desks in quiet, orderly rows listening to the teacher giving direct instruction is a thing of the past. Today’s students must be allowed to develop creativity by using communication and collaboration skills during learning. By embedding the arts and the six C’s, teachers can help students succeed on a much deeper level. This study created the intended outcome, but more importantly, my personal growth as a teacher, how I teach, and a newfound love for teaching far exceeded my most significant expectations.”
Academic Support Special Education Teacher, South Jordan Elementary, Jordan School District
Renee Jackson explored the way she taught special-needs students the movements of the Brain Dance. After reading several articles about the importance of movement as a part of learning, she became convinced that mastering the brain dance was essential for her students, because of the crucial connections the dance creates in the brain. Renee took video of her practice teaching the Brain Dance, consulted her critical friend, and recorded personal reflections of her practice. Results of her study included recognition of effective teaching practices that improved engagement, including hand-over-hand assistance and personal invitations. As she worked through the self-study project, Renee noticed students voluntarily becoming more involved and showing more effort without any prompting.
Renee concluded her self-study project with the following reflection:“During the three weeks of data collection, I watched videos of my teaching. Over time, I noticed changes in my teaching and how my kids responded to what they were being asked to do. For me, the most personally rewarding element was how my kids responded to me and to the dance. Students’ behavior transformed from very passive and non-responsive into high levels of engagement and excitement. In turn, their energy inspired me to try new things and helped me remember that teaching is still what I love to do, despite the challenges. Even as I write this, that recognition and resolve is strengthened in my heart.”
Apply for the Arts Integration Endorsement Program
If you are interested in participating in this program, the CITES office at BYU is accepting applications for the 2020-2022 cohort. Space is limited. Participants gain basic skills in six art forms as well as strategies to integrate the arts across the curriculum. The endorsement will be posted on the USBE teaching license. This is a blended learning course with online and in-person components.
The course is funded by the Beverley Taylor Sorenson BYU ARTS Partnership. Participants are responsible to pay for the BYU credit which is forty-three dollars per credit for twelve credits, and credits for elective courses, which vary.