Getting "Inuit" with Arts Integration

Mary Ellen Henderson 5th graders kept the beat with Arts Integration as the Husky ENCORE team taught them about Native Americans during the Native American Festival on Tuesday. Drumming was just one of several activities geared toward helping students remember the cultures of tribes from all regions of United States in advance of SOL tests. Others included storytelling, lacrosse, artistic symbols, and a scavenger hunt for artifacts.

Virginia Standards of Learning: US History to 1865

USI.3 The student will demonstrate knowledge of how early cultures developed in North America by
  • b) locating where the American Indians lived, with emphasis on the Arctic (Inuit), Northwest (Kwakiutl), Plains (Lakota), Southwest (Pueblo), and Eastern Woodlands (Iroquois);
  • c) describing how the American Indians used the resources in their environment.

Application to Education

As the Instructional Technology Coach for this school, it was fun for me to really capture the essence of "low-tech" skills that were needed for the Native Americans to survive.  It reminded me that technology can simply be defined as "using our available resources to solve problems and improve the quality of life".  These students are demonstrating (what we call) 21st Century Skills such as communication, collaboration, creativity, and problem-solving via Arts Integration.  I'm pretty sure that Native Americans also needed all of these same skills in order to survive and thrive as a civilization. 


I filmed and edited the video below to demonstrate how my school is successfully integrating the Arts to deepen the learning and understanding of curricular content. 

What is Arts Integration?

"Arts integration is an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Students engage in a creative process which connects an art form and another subject area and meets evolving objectives in both." -Kennedy Center

Why Arts Integration?

Research shows that arts education is crucial in children’s learning process and development. Studies show that children exposed to arts education throughout childhood through primary, secondary and tertiary school show greater scores on academic achievements as well as greater social, cultural, emotional and cognitive development. Some of the measured improvement are greater self-confidence, communicative skills, cultural awareness and sensitivity alongside greater stimulated creativity and overall academic achievement. [1]
  • Arts education is a key to creativity
  • Creativity is an essential component of, and spurs innovation
  • Innovation is, agreed to be necessary to create new industries in the future
  • New industries, with their jobs, are the basis of our future economic well-being.

Many other countries in Asia and Europe, include vigorous Arts curriculum as a national priority in their public school systems and we must do the same. The mission is to make the country, its leader and the funding agencies aware that Arts are not just a “nice” thing to have in the education systems – but rather they are an essential national priority to the future of the US in this rapidly changing global economy. [1]

The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind--creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers. These people--artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers--will now reap society's richest rewards and share its greatest joys. [2]

We are moving from an economy and a society built on the logical, linear, computer-like capabilities of the Information Age to an economy and a society built on the inventive, empathic, big-picture capabilities of what's rising in its place, the Conceptual Age. [2]

Let's continue to integrate the Arts to best prepare our students for their future!

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Leveraging the Strengths of Our Students
I Think We Have Education Backwards ... Don't You?
The 21st Century Learner, Needs a 21st Teacher
STE[A]M Education: Integrating the Arts into STEM


  1. STEAM:
  2. Daniel Pink: A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age


  1. This will bring in more power and concentration in children.


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