As Berkman and Wells Branch elementary schools prepare to open as Arts Integration Academies (AIA) in August, Round Rock ISD administrators and school staff partnered with the Kennedy Center ArtsEdge program for intensive professional development sessions.
The first of three trainings led the group through brainstorming exercises and allowed for collaboration among academic and fine arts subjects.
“The Kennedy Center has been working in an intensive and ongoing way with arts integration since 1999,” Fine Arts Director Lisa Roebuck said. “When we decided to do Arts Integration Academies, they’re the first group we decided to call.”
Arts integration is an approach to teaching based on the belief that learning is actively built, experiential, evolving, collaborative, problem-solving and reflective. Through the Arts Integration Academy model, students at Berkman and Wells Branch will demonstrate their understanding of academics through an art form. Students will engage in a creative process, which connects an art form and another subject area, meeting evolving objectives in both.
Teachers had the opportunity to learn first-hand how students could learn math concepts through making shapes with their bodies or breaking through language arts lessons with speech, said Carla Amacher, executive director of elementary education.
“The training has helped us understand that this transition into an Arts Integration Academy is not about performing or being onstage,” Amacher said. “The transition is about how we can use the arts as a learning and assessment tool and how we can weave the arts into our everyday instruction in the classroom.”
Berkman and Wells Branch staff will participate in future trainings Aug. 15-17 and in October as the Arts Integration Academies continue to progress. Moving forward, the staffs will work on collaborating to ensure the integration is successful.
“During the training we spent time talking about specific ways we can readjust our daily schedule to allow time for planning between teachers,” Roebuck said. “One of the biggest barriers to our integration is that we need to find time to plan together. We’re trying to reconfigure the instructional day so we have time for teachers to collaborate.”