What spoke to me the most was the difference between arts enhancement and arts integration. While arts enhancement involves using the arts to support other content area standards, arts integration is finding two naturally complementary standards—one general content and one arts—and teaching them together, assessing each equally.
I think both types of lessons offer benefits in the classroom. Arts enhancement allows teachers to differentiate based on student interests, learning styles, and talents. Arts integration adds depth to a lesson by making it truly cross-curricular. Personally, I can see myself doing both within the classroom. Within a unit on geometric shapes, for instance, visual arts standards could easily be integrated and assessed throughout the lessons. Enhancing lessons through offering the arts as content or a means to express learning is still important though. Offering choice in product, process, and content is a key strategy in differentiation and achieving student engagement from a diverse group of kids.
I also felt the article on visual literacy was important and accurate. The author wrote about the various levels of visual literacy necessary to interpret images from the simple (street sign) to the complex (advertisement), and discussed how like reading, visual literacy is something that is gained through a process. This is something that is learned through time and is valuable not only in student’s ability to understand and interpret art, but their ability to process media, illustrations, photographs, etc. I can see this being an area that is grown through conversations that include thoughtfully prepared questions that address various levels of Bloom’s/DOK to illicit critical thinking and different opinions regarding photographs, pictures, illustrations, etc. that tie to the curriculum.
In past classes I have often enhanced lessons by incorporating artwork, drama, and music into the content or including them as an option for demonstrating students’ learning. I have also tried to grow students’ visual literacy in reading lessons by leading conversations about book illustrations and how they help enhance the text. With very young children, this is a critical component of reading comprehension so it has always naturally fit into the curriculum. When I taught art for a year, our school had initiatives to incorporate reading and writing across the curriculum. I actually had “reverse arts integration” lessons, where I chose reading and writing standards to integrate into my visual arts lessons and both content area standards were assessed.