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  • Nicole (Johnson) Williams

Highlights Archive (live)

Updated: Mar 12

Arts Integration


PART TWO: Arts Integration Research & Resources

For this semester's Principles of Teaching Artistry class, I will use this post as a live document to compile any portions, passages, big ideas, and practices I want to cite, develop or expand upon later and carry my learning forward.


In the first module of this course, I chose to take a deeper dive into arts integration. Since arriving here at NMH, I have begun to develop a much deeper understanding for the genres of dance that I teach (ballet, jazz, and modern). Because the school is an academic institution, all of the dance classes that I teach have an academic component that has shifted my priority from production to process. As I worked through the beginning of this module, I spent a lot of time on The Kennedy Center's website, reading what it has to say about the topic. It explains that:


"In Arts-Integrated Curriculum, the arts become the approach to teaching and the vehicle for learning. Students meet dual learning objectives when they engage in the creative process to explore connections between an art form and another subject area to gain greater understanding in both."

Arts integration,

"requires that teachers engage in professional development to learn about arts standards and how to connect the arts to the curriculum they teach.

For this reason, I am looking forward to working with my friend and colleague, Martha Neubert, who is the current Dean of Equity and Inclusion and a seasoned history teacher here at NMH, to continue to evolve the jazz curriculum I've been developing over the past two years.


Evaluation: How Do I Know I'm Doing What I Say I'm Doing?

As my goal is to develop curriculum that is transferable to many different educational environments, I will look to the historical Bloom's Taxonomy, which has continued to evolve over the years, to aid in assessing the efficiency of the program and holding the facilitator and all participants accountable to our goals.


See the image below from Vanderbilt University


Taking a page from Urban Bush Women's curricular playbook, another resource I will use to evaluate this curriculum comes from Animating Democracy.



My goal is to explore the use of dance education to solidify a transferable curriculum that promotes the, "literacy and language, self-identity, social skills, persistence, resilience, group learning, and participation in a democratic society," as suggested by the Arts Integration Frameworks, Research, and Practice: A Literature Review. I want to find ways to offer these tools not only in dance spaces, but through dance to communities of affinity looking to evolve their thinking and understanding, paying special attention to dismantling internalized systems of oppression. In the paper's conclusion, the authors also outline the need for more research regarding, "which content skills, concepts, structures, strategies are most effectively integrated and at which developmental level(s),” as well as teacher development (Burnaford, Brown, Doherty, McLaughlin, 2007).


The The Chicago Guide for Teaching and Resources in the Arts: "Arts Integration" outlines the following as best practices for effective arts integration programming:

  • Establish clear instructional goals

  • Collaborate

  • Take notes

  • Support and enhance sequential learning

  • Assess outcomes for all instructional areas

  • Communicate plans to students

  • Engage educators school-wide in arts integration goals

  • Be flexible

  • Choose an organizing theme or question

  • Emphasize process over product

  • Align instruction with standards and benchmarks

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Part THREE: Integrating the Arts

Although I am privileged to have worked primarily in private institutions that generally support my pedagogical efforts, I understand that not all educational spaces afford the support necessary to engage in critical and reflective dance practices that engage learners with equally valued interdisciplinary rigor and depth. The following notes are derived from a deep read of Kori Wakamatso's 2007 paper, Teacher evaluation and principal perception: How arts integration may be key to elevating dance. In the piece, Wakamatso touches on many hardships dance teaching artists face when implementing interdisciplinary curriculum in their schools. Below are some of my key highlights and takeaways from the article.


Wakamatso, Kori (2007). Teacher evaluation and principal perception: How arts integration may be key to elevating dance


"Principal feedback is a crucial component of teacher evaluation, yet inadequate knowledge of dance may lead to insufficient teacher evaluations and instructional progress."

Dance teaching artists often receive pushback when attempting to elevate dance education in their institutions past the extracurricular and into the academic. In this excerpt, and throughout the paper, the author emphasizes the critical role of administrative feedback and how that feedback can be compromised by a systemic lack of experience with dance education.


Regarding teacher evaluation, the report states, "The teacher evaluation process is not the goal. Rather, it is a tool that when wielded wisely will advance the educational experience of both student and teachers, and positively affect educational reform" (p. 204). The report also highlights the difficulties surrounding a principal/administrator's ability to consistently evaluate a teacher's effectiveness. I am fortunate to presently be developing this curriculum at an institution that shares my educational and pedagogical priorities, and that supports my aims.


"Although dance as a physical activity is undeniable, it is also an artistic endeavor that, unlike sports, is driven by expression and creativity (p. 205)."


"Not surprisingly, principals agreed and strongly agreed that dance fosters creativity, collaboration, and communication skills. Nonetheless, 30% of these principals were neutral about dance fostering critical thinking skills. The neutral responses might imply that greater

advocacy efforts be made about the critical thinking rigor inherent in dance (p. 206)."


"Recent data indicates that the typical public K–12 principal is male and has had little to no

exposure to dance in the school setting. This principal profile was generated from two reports: the Benchmarking Women’s Leadership report that shows that 70% of public K–12 school board members, principals, superintendents, and chief state education officers are men (Lennon 2013) (p. 206)."


"Dance educators can build upon optimistic views of dance by targeting the following issues: linking dance and critical thinking; informing evaluators about national and state dance standards; and offering direct experience with and exposure to dance," (p. 207).


This is important -> "Embodied cognition theory connects physical and mental capabilities and assumes that they work interdependently (Garbarini and Adenzato 2004)."


Cognitive mapping, emotional reactions, and transformative experiences in dance, especially in an interdisciplinary context, will help administrators better understand the critical thinking involved.


These excerpts are a perfect segue to my arts integration project, which I plan to implement in multiple dance spaces over the next year and beyond. As an assignment for my master's program, I have worked with a colleague of my choice to build an arts integration unit. I will continue to develop this interdisciplinary experience as the basis of a 10-week co-curricular course at my school, a 4-day Jazz Dance workshop for beginning dance students at a summer arts camp, a 1-hour conference workshop for educators, and a 5-day artistic residency for professional dance artists/educators in the Detroit area.


Mind Mapping

In this module, I am building a 4-session arts integration unit with a teaching colleague of my choice. I've chosen to work with the Dean of Equity and Inclusion and History teacher here at my school to craft a Jazz Dance + American History = Diversity & Social Justice (DSJ - a required course for 10th graders at Northfield Mount Hermon).

Below is an overview Mind Map of the unit:


Jazz Dance + American History = Diversity & Social Justice
Overview Mind Map

These are the overall objectives for the unit:

  1. Participants will be able to connect key eras/points in American History with their correlating cultural experiences through the medium of Jazz dance

  2. Participants will practice locating themselves within American cultural history

  3. Participants will have a working knowledge of key vocabulary supporting American History, Diversity & Social Justice, and Jazz dance.

Certain aspects of the lesson plan are underdeveloped. As I continue to work with my colleague in brainstorming this unit, these pink boxes will disappear.


Session One: Colonial America + The New Nation (1585-1860)



Session Two: The Civil War + Reconstruction + The Progressive Era (1861-1913)


Session Three: World War I + The Great Depression + World War II (1914-1945)


The Modern Era + Beyond (1945 - The Future)



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PART FOUR: Mindmaps --> Lesson Plans

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