Arts Integration

Peeno, M. Pasley, P

first published in MAEA magazine Winter 2020-2021

Integrating Art in 2020

Margaret Peeno & Phyllis Pasley

Art education in Missouri has been in an unprecedented period of change even before COVID-19 arrived six months ago. The field of art education has been an essential

partner in the new vision for education as part of the national goals for education that support

students understanding their role in an increasingly global culture and wanting them to be

able to adapt themselves to the quickly changing demands in today’s economic, cultural, and social environment. Interdisciplinary studies have taken shape in K-12 core curriculum, integrated arts, the humanities, interrelated arts programs, STEAM, contemporary social

issues, design and new technologies, have proved a path for future curriculum development.

But what is in the future for our classrooms? How do we construct curriculum or even lessons that relate ideas and concepts from the arts, history, communication arts, math and science to focus on themes and problems of life experience? One answer to these questions might be ARTS INTEGRATION. With a focus on collaborative design, where arts specialists and classroom teachers equally share the responsibilities for lesson design, implementation and student assessment models 21st century skills for students, resulting in lessons with greater impact on student learning. A poorly designed lesson is somewhat like two people having a conversation without communicating with each other. Related ideas are presented but not connected to each other in ways that make sense and lead to a fuller and deeper understanding. With Arts Integration, the opportunity for deeper understanding, greater student retention, and renewed joy in learning help teachers and learners reach common goals.

There are several reasons for an increased interest in an interdisciplinary approach to the

Arts. First the combined efforts of the Kennedy Center”s Changing Education Through the Arts

(CETA) Program,the National Endowment for the Arts, national and state arts organizations, and state education departments are leading the movement toward a more comprehensive approach to arts education. Both arts specialists and classroom teachers have been encouraged to work toward this balance with virtual, hybrid, and face-to-face platforms combining performance and production in the classroom and in the music room or studio. As a

result, teachers who are committed to the interdisciplinary approach have found a variety of

creative ways to move towards a more comprehensive art education by expanding their own programs and by introducing arts content into science, social studies, and communication

arts lessons. Teachers using a commitment to cultural and social studies thematic units find

exciting ways to introduce students to the rituals, beliefs, celebrations, and values of other

cultures through the arts.

We have become increasingly aware that many models for schools are based on the concept that subjects are taught separately and learners are grouped by age and teaching practices. Many educators have discovered that one solution to moving beyond the traditional approach to learning is to embrace arts integration, as seen in several school districts in Missouri, e.g. Liberty Public Schools and Springfield Missouri Public Schools. Aaron Money, Fine Arts Coordinator for Liberty Public Schools entered into the John F. Kennedy Center for the Arts National Partnership, along with Johnson County Community College, Kansas City Young Audiences, and Shawnee Mission School District. This KS/MO Kennedy Center Partners in Education Team recently published their results of a comparison study among twelve elementary classrooms matched by grade level. Results showed the arts integration teaching methods significantly improved educational outcomes in the area of core subject content, enjoyment of learning, engagement and creativity. The finding provides evidence that arts integration teaching methods can produce a significant, positive impact on the educational development of elementary students.

At A.D. Stowell School in Hannibal, Missouri the approach to Arts Integration is very different. In this setting, arts specialists push into the regular classroom for a defined period of time, and with administrative support and dedicated collaboration time, both non-arts and arts educators work together to meet the needs of students they serve. You can meet the husband-wife team of Katie and Steve Schisler who are the art and music specialists on staff there. Join us on October 5, 2020 at 4pm to learn more about this unique approach to arts integration in a FREE one-hour webinar sponsored by the Missouri Alliance for Arts Education. This is part of a series of interactive sessions of the Missouri Arts Integration Network (M.A.I.N.) These MAIN EVENT sessions are held once each month and feature opportunities to learn more about Arts Integration and to get inspired! Email to register.


With modified instructional practices being piloted across the state, many include narrowing of instructional minutes or utilization of shared space and collaboration. Learning about successful models of arts integration may be another tool to help you and your partner teachers attain student achievement goals and build student success, while decreasing the sense of isolation that many arts specialists experience under the “old normal.” Another reason involves the concerns faced by many arts educators that in times of a lean economy and shrinking budgets, that arts programming may suffer. By strengthening the involvement of the arts in other aspects of school life, stakeholders are more likely to become your advocates for the future continuation of arts education.

In subsequent issues of Show-Me-Art we plan to share strategies and suggestions establishing a firm place for the arts in Missouri’s schools. We hope to present convincing cases from schools across the state that have implemented evidence-based arts integration programs preK-through higher education. Our premise focuses on the the value of the arts for their own sake and their unique usefulness in other fields through kindling the interest in learning of students throughout our schools, alongside the idea of leveraging the power of the arts, teaching in a more holistic way, honoring all subjects and practitioners and providing another means of effectively reaching desired learning outcomes.

Maggie Peeno has taught art in Columbia, University City, and Clayton School Districts and

at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She is past-president of MAEA, a past vice-president of NAEA, and has served as a trustee for the National Art Education Foundation.

She is a Distinguished Fellow of the NAEA. Contact:

Phyllis Pasley is the executive director of the Missouri Alliance for Arts Education, a non-profit service organization connecting Missouri's arts education communities in DANCE, MUSIC, THEATRE and VISUAL ARTS. MAAE unites allies from Missouri's professional arts education organizations, community arts organizations, teaching artists and arts agencies to promote high quality arts education at all levels. The MAAE executive board has placed Arts Integration as a high priority to promote its positive impact on teaching and learning across the state. To learn more, visit To register for our free monthly MAIN EVENT sessions email