A monthly guide to art education

by Anne Pope, Executive Director, Tennessee Arts Commission

New Grant Brings More Art into Tennessee Classrooms

Arts integration is a method of teaching that supports learning both in and through the arts. Teachers of non-arts subjects work alongside arts specialists and teaching artists to create collaborative lesson plans that infuse creativity into learning. The curriculum standards and objectives of arts and non-arts subjects are seamlessly connected to strengthen understanding in multiple content areas.

Kindergarteners watercolor ocean habitats;  Photography by Brandi Self

Kindergarteners watercolor ocean habitats; 
Photography by Brandi Self

Built on the success of previous arts integration initiatives, the Tennessee Arts Commission is proud to offer a new grant program opportunity—Arts360 Arts Integration (AE-AI). It will support schools in implementing arts integration in every classroom to help improve instruction and increase student outcomes.

The grant program will assist Tennessee public schools in transitioning to whole-school arts integration. Program goals include:

• Improve the academic performance and outcomes of students

• Integrate standards-based arts education into the school curriculum

• Nurture collaboration within schools, across districts, and statewide

Schools awarded this grant will be joining an arts education initiative that has existed in Tennessee since 2006 through two previous Arts Commission programs. Both of these programs were funded through the Arts Education Model Development and Dissemination Grant from the U.S. Department of Education—making our agency the first state arts agency to be awarded this grant twice.

Value Plus Schools developed a whole-school reform model in six pilot schools across the state. In these schools, student achievement increased eight points over four years compared to control schools collectively in math, science, reading/language arts, and social studies. The original Value Plus schools included: Bradley Academy, Covington Integrated Arts Academy, Mooreland Heights Elementary School, and Oak Grove Elementary School.

5th grade visual art and planets integration lesson

5th grade visual art and planets integration lesson

In 2010, Arts360 transitioned four schools in Knox County to arts integration as a school-district-wide model. Here, students experienced 3.8% gains above control schools in math scores in 2013 and 2014, and teachers and arts specialists met all project performance standards. The four pilot schools in Arts360 were: Gap Creek Elementary, Green Magnet STEAM Academy, Mount Olive Elementary, and New Hopewell Elementary.

“High-quality arts-integrated lessons allow students to think critically and develop communication and problem-solving skills,” says Brandi Self, Assistant Principal of Mooreland Heights Elementary and former Arts360 Coordinator for Knox County Schools. “Additionally, the collaboration between classroom teachers and arts specialists can be a powerful experience that unites a faculty and results in a more well-rounded educational experience for the students.”

Benefits of an arts education include increasing learning and achievement, developing critical thinking skills for a 21st century workforce, and preparing students to lead meaningful lives. Through arts integration, students are given opportunities to explore and fuse knowledge with their imaginations, and in doing so they imagine the endless possibilities they can achieve.

We encourage teachers, parents, and others in the arts community to explore this new arts integration funding opportunity for your own school or community.

For more information, visit www.tnartscommission.org.

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