Jennifer Klyne’s favorite math problem involves a little geometry – and an art lesson.
“We study abstract art for our geometry unit,” says Klyne, a second grade teacher at Brooks Museums Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh, North Carolina. “We talk about different shades of color and foreground and background, and the kids use shapes to describe the art and create their own replicas.”
Thanks to the Arts Integration Institute, Klyne is constantly looking for ways to use the arts to help her students learn.
Designed by the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County, the Arts Integration Institute gives elementary school educators a hands-on opportunity to work with artists to learn how to better incorporate the arts in the classroom.
In addition to various resources, support and seminars, the program offers an annual weeklong workshop that gives teams of teachers and administrators a chance to plan collaboratively and create practical, art-centered lesson plans.
“We believe the arts are an integral part of education and should be found throughout the curriculum,” says Ragen Carlile, United Arts vice president of education and community programs.
Carlile says the goal of the institute is to equip teachers with the skills needed to use the arts to enhance learning across different subjects. For example, participants might explore how to teach history through poetry or demonstrate weather systems through dance.
“The institute is a one-of-a-kind opportunity that gives teachers the tools to re-energize their classrooms and get their students truly engaged in learning,” she says. “Teachers walk away from the institute with ideas, lesson plans and the confidence they need to make learning more fun.”
Klyne, who first attended the institute two years ago, says her students learn differently when the arts are involved.
“I think the biggest value is the engagement and the excitement to learn,” she says. “It’s not just reading a book and answering a question. They don’t even realize they’re learning.”
More importantly, Klyne says, the arts break down barriers in the classroom.
“It really levels the playing field,” she says. “We have kids of varied abilities, but they still feel confident in what they’re doing by integrating the arts.”