At Narragansett Elementary School (NES), the Integrated Arts curriculum is one in which fine arts are imbedded into existing classroom curricula. Arts and classroom teachers plan together and jointly implement lessons. Our program is aligned with the philosophy of the smART Schools initiative, sponsored by the Education Development Center which is based in Newton , Massachusetts. SmART Schools ( formerly called Spectra RI) is a whole school change model where teaching for understanding through the arts is key.
At the core of the program is the belief that ìwhen individuals frequently engage in acts of creating, performing and responding in the arts, it helps them to achieve academic and social success, understand and celebrate diverse cultures, and build a collaborative and caring school community.î (Spectra Rhode Island: Overview, 1/4/99)
Much of the groundwork in developing this approach has been laid through the work of nationally recognized educators such as Elliot Eisner and Howard Gardner, whose theory of multiple intelligences is well known. Even in a language rich learning environment where many students may be thriving, others still may not be engaged. Infusing the arts into the curriculum can help to widen the learning circle. The definition of language is expanded to include music, poetry, visual art and movement as valid expressions of understanding. (S. Blecher and K. Jaffee,Weaving in the Arts)
of the National Endowment for the Arts spoke eloquently in stating that
"The arts are central to how we see ourselves, what we believe about
and how we present ourselves to each other. The arts are especially
in a complex democracy like ours. Democracy offers the promise of equal
participation to hundreds of cultural traditions that shape our
Native American, Asian, European, Black, and Hispanic and this promise
translates into an endless process of negotiation and accommodation.
represents a place in which borrowing, blending, and sharing can really
A Word about the Planning Process and Assessment
Examples of Lessons