How I Use It
ArtsEdge is THE resource to use to incorporate the arts into your classroom, no matter what subject you teach.
As an ELA teacher, I strive to incorporate visual arts, as well as music, in my lessons to teach various topics such as mood, imagery, tone, etc. Exploring the arts can teach students to think and write critically and analytically. It would take hours to explore everything on this site, (and I did that), but there is truly something for every teacher, no matter what discipline he or she teaches, who wishes to incorporate the Arts into the classroom.
On this site, the Arts includes: DANCE, (ballet to African to hip-hop), MUSIC (classical to jazz to opera), THEATER (melodramas to musicals), VISUAL ARTS (paintings to photography to sculptures), LITERARY ARTS (haikus to myths to comic strips), and MEDIA ARTS (photographs to videos).
It takes some time to figure out how to navigate the site because it is so vast, but here is a breakdown of what you can find:
LESSONS: As of this writing, there are 187 lessons available spanning all subject areas. While there is a lesson finder filter, I found this to be too limiting. I prefer to scroll through all the lessons. It’s easy to find what you are looking for by grade level, subject, or topic. And if you are not looking for something in particular, you are bound to see something that you will want to try. These lessons are engaging, creative, and extremely thorough. They include everything you need to know and do to execute them, including any images, videos, worksheets and rubrics. The lessons have been aligned to the Common Core State Standards, as well as state and national standards where applicable. By clicking on the standards button and entering your state and grade level information, the standards you are requesting will be displayed. Literally all of the work has been done for you. Most of the lessons are excellent opportunities for interdisciplinary work, but almost all can be conducted by one classroom teacher.
HOW-TO’S: While these aren’t lesson plans, this section provides excellent resources and tips for teachers who want to support teachers in their exploration and development of arts education. I particularly liked the tip sheet on Art Critiques Made Easy.
STANDARDS: This is a list of the National Standards for Arts Education, which outlines what every K-12 student should know and be able to do in the arts. If you click on a standard, you will be given links to the resources and lessons on the site that connect to that standard.
FAMILIES: I was exploring this site primarily from an educator’s perspective, but the section for families is great, giving parents ideas for how to enrich their children’s lives with the arts, including a link to ten classical music pieces all children should hear, creative boredom busters, a parent’s field guide to the symphony, and an article about taking kids to their first live show.
STUDENTS: This is designed for student to explore independently, or directed by a teacher, and contains interesting articles ranging from the story behind famous songs, such as Yankee Doodle, or the hip-hop culture. There are also links to interactive websites, such as one that teaches students music notes. Teachers should explore this section to get ideas for the classroom as well, or for assignments to give students for independent work.
COLLECTIONS: If you want to search by theme or topic, this section is broken down into 47 collections such as “History and Geography,” “Great Composers,” or “Animals.” It will link you to the videos, articles, or lessons found on other parts of the site. There is a finder feature to search for something specific.
MEDIA-Similar to the collections section, this section contains images, audio stories, music, video clips, and interactive websites. There is a finder feature to search for something specific.
I see this primarily as an excellent resource for teachers to find lessons and resources, and not so much as a site that students would be excited to explore independently. The pages may be slightly busy and the articles lengthy, but with the right direction in independent and group work, students will benefit from the materials. The ratings I gave were based on the engagement students have with the lessons, not the website itself.
I know I will find myself going back again and again to this site when planning my lessons. There are connections to nearly every skill and topic taught in the ELA 7/8 curriculum, as well as several connections to all the other disciplines as well.