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A review of related literature has established some evidence of mirrored practice reflecting similar composing processes between visual art and the writing process. There has not been, however, an actual descriptive process of the connections, similarities and relationships between the writing process and the making of visual art nor the influence and impact of other arts areas such as music, drama, and dance integrated into the creative process. Current research
and literature present art and writing integration models but appear to favor one medium
over the other. There is also expressed concern in the area of rural school populations and the associated risk for lack of art education due to limited funds, resources, access to arts exposure or arts opportunity programs. Further research addressing these concerns is needed.
The problem statement is; How does arts integration impact student achievement in the area of writing? This study has the potential to contribute to the body of knowledge supporting a relationship between the arts and increased student outcomes. Research question one is "What is the impact on the participants' composing experiences in an art-infused writing curriculum?" This first and second research questions have two parts: a) What are the elements of students' composing processes in art? and b) What are the elements of students' composing processes in writing? Research question two investigates a) What is the relationship between the two composing processes of art and writing and b) How does the addition of integrated arts opportunities give students positive experiences that transfer to the writing process?
This literature review on arts integration and writing will focus on six broad areas of arts
integrated teaching and learning: the definition of arts integration, the historical context of
arts integration, the role of arts integration in the classroom, the implementation of arts
integrated teaching and learning (models, practices, and approaches), the influence of arts integration on the aspect of creative writing, and the reflective mirroring of the creative processes of writing and visual arts. The review will offer empirical support of arts integration and writing collaboration through the SmartArts model for integrating the arts in the elementary classroom-specifically, that learning is actively constructed, experiential, reflective, evolving, collaborative, and problem-solving. Various arts integration definitions and concepts have been extracted from these descriptions.
Definition and Purpose of Arts Integration
In order to make synthesis of the research for the topic it is necessary to have a clear idea of the definition of arts integration. The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (2010) offers a definition that interprets the concept from the perspective of an approach to teaching rather than the culmination of an art based product. This version encompasses a value for the connecting process of the arts to the transfer of knowledge to another subject area and the demonstration through art forms. Students engage in a creative process making connections between an art form to other subject content areas, thereby meeting evolving objectives in both areas. The concept of arts integration practice is based on the work of prominent theorists and practitioners such as Catterall, Eisner, and Gardner, they seem to agree that the arts are integral to the education of the "whole child" (Catterall, 1998; Eisner, 1998; Gardner, 1999). These noted theorists have recognized and continue to support the lifelong benefits that the arts provide students. Arts-integrated programs are associated with academic gains across the curriculum and are reflected in standardized test scores when measured with appropriate instruments. J. Davis (1999) identifies important insight with his work and explores a variety of ways that the arts are included in the present U.S. school setting. First, arts- based arts content areas are now identified as required core subjects. As an indirect reaction to No Child Left Behind legislation, policy further tightens the hand on educational budgets and reminds educational planners to remember to consistently plan for the arts as an avenue to enhance teaching and learning. The district and school budget must be protected for the arts through conscious and methodological monitoring. The arts are competing for existence within the curriculum of many schools. Learning through the arts provides students the opportunity for building meaning of content related material through the use of the visual, dramatic, and musical arts while learning in the arts gives students the exposure to specific skills gained through instruction in these art forms. This resource is useful to my review in the research that identifies points to plan for a productive arts program and supports the over-all school mission for student success. The best practice methods and lessons are especially helpful because they are supported by research and experience.
Historical Context of Arts Integration
The arts have not always benefited from a solid foundational place in educational curriculum. Art education has traditionally been considered as an outsider force with serious concerns and questions of validity. The early 1920's and 1930' enjoyed a brief burst of funding and appreciation when they were funded by philanthropists and entrepreneurs as a means of inquiry into the artistic process and programs to prepare teachers of the arts.
In the 1930-1940's the classroom teacher held the primary responsibility for implementing art and music into the school curriculum with the rare exception of an occasional arts specialist, or certified secondary teacher. Dance instruction, if available at all, was included with physical education while drama opportunities were sometimes provided through theatre experiences through the English and Literature curriculum (Remer, 2003).
Later during the middle of the 20th century, museums, libraries, and symphony organizations began to implement, as part of their missions, regularly scheduled educational activities. A student of the 1950's experienced brief and singular encounters with the arts through field trips, specialty music programs, or school assembly demonstrations. President Roosevelt's New Deal of 1933-1936, in response to the Great Depression's economic national disaster, provided public support of the arts and created jobs for artists to work with schools. The arts however were considered as enrichment activities and were still considered primarily for the talented and wealthy.
During the 1960's education favored the sciences which left the arts and humanities seriously underfunded. President J.F. Kennedy and his administration took a leading role in developing and funding public support for the arts although establishing art education as a core curriculum subject had not yet been achieved. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) led and supported efforts for artists and schools to work together. These collaborations contributed to an interest in arts integration and for partnership opportunities for artists, teachers, and performers to work together as instructional educators. NEA initiated a program called Artists-in-Schools and included classroom and student projects, teacher workshop training opportunities and community performances (Remer, 2003).
A large break through for arts education came in 2002 with the federally legislated No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). This act affirmed the arts as a core academic subject. The arts became federally legislated to be taught in the schools but the extent of arts integration seemed to have different levels of priority at the local levels.
Role of Arts Integration
As the arts have now been granted core curriculum subject status, the role of arts has undergone a transformational change to a more specific place in student learning and education. . Gullat (2008) identifies important insight with the work of J. Davis (1999) who explores a variety of ways that the arts are included in the present U.S. school setting. First, all arts- based content areas are now identified as required core subjects. As an indirect reaction to No Child Left Behind legislation, policy further tightens the hand on educational budgets and reminds educational planners to remember to consistently plan for the arts as an avenue to enhance teaching and learning. The district and school budget must be protected for the arts through conscious and methodological monitoring. The arts are competing for existence within the curriculum of many schools. Learning through the arts provides students the opportunity for building meaning to content related material through the use of the visual, dramatic, and musical arts while learning in the arts gives students the exposure to specific skills gained through instruction in these art forms. This information is useful as current research supports and identifies student gains as it points to a plan for a productive arts program and supports the over-all school mission for student success. The best practice methods and lessons are especially helpful because they are supported by research and experience to further this goal.
Implementation of Arts Integrated Teaching and Learning:
In this section the concept of arts integration is explored through the models, practice, and approaches of the subject. The concept of connections and "making meaning" is an essential quality and point of alignment in regards to the research questions throughout the study. One unique aspect of this research is found in the examples of lesson design and best practice methodology. Lynch (2008) describes successful arts integration lessons that are specifically designed with the purpose to accomplish one of three things; (1) to introduce and create enthusiasm for a new unit of study; (2) to reinforce concepts already learned; or (3) to enrich content and add another layer of meaning. Several indicators are identified as descriptors of an integrated arts approach. Integration sessions function as social events where collaborative learning promotes community, development of social skills, and cooperative learning events. Implications for Learning offers evidence that this study yields results that integrating the arts with classroom content consistently supports all kinds of learners, a theme that is echoed in current research. The only negative connotation reported by teachers appears to be primarily time-related. Not only in the lack of allowance time for planning and training but in the implementation phase as well. Arts integrations allows for multiple perspectives as students begin operating in higher order thinking activities. Arts integrations helped create a safe atmosphere for taking risks because students and teachers were able to build a community of learners that support itself and each other. Arts integrations demonstrate that learning can be a pleasurable experience and that students can have fun while they learn. Lynch (2008) states that "when the arts become a vehicle for learning classroom content, the whole child is involved. Children are immersed intellectually, emotionally, physically and therefore rigorously, in the learning experience" (2008, p.36 ). This is in direct alignment and comparison with Gullatt (2008) which also speaks to educating the whole child from the work of Catterall, (1998); Eisner, (1998); and Gardner, (1999). Another area of comparison in research is in the mention of No Child Left Behind. NCLB (2002) also expresses concern with restricting the kinds of opportunities students have to encounter in other forms of communication including language arts.
Influence of Arts Integration on the Aspect of Creative Writing
Lynch (2007) offers the following insight and research from the National Council of Teachers of English Elementary Section Steering Committee (1996) and states:
"We define the language arts broadly to include all of the various ways that learners make and share meaning ... (including) art, music, drama, mathematics, and movement as well as the traditional four of language, reading, writing, speaking and listening" (pp.11-12).
Lynch (2007) also states that arts integration opportunities enable students to use their hands, bodies and voices in meaningful ways and continues with a powerful quote. "What we typically 'shush' (voices) or ask to keep still (hands and bodies), become tools for learning in an arts integration lesson" (p.67). Robinson (2001) says that in education, children often learn best by being absorbed in tasks that require the incidental use of skills and ideas, rather than focusing on them in a detached way. The arts provide a powerful way of doing this. "There is growing evidence that standards of achievement rise through a broad and balanced curriculum that includes the arts, in which children are able to play to their strengths and to make connections with what they know" (Robinson, p.1).
Quality research is identified through the Arts Education Partnership (AEP) as it lists
scholarly resources and citations. A review of these resources allows an initial organization of the literature search by (a) large scale arts integration research; (b) meta-analyses of arts and non-arts learning; (c) discrete, small-scale arts integration studies conducted 2003-2007; (d) arts integration dissertations; (e) teacher professional development and arts integration research; and (e) international research and arts integration for a thorough literature search. A closer review of abstracts and study summaries allows accessibility to prioritize and organize resources by categories of arts integration professional development, teacher practice using the arts, and student achievement through the arts.
Reflective Mirroring of the Creative Processes of Writing and Visual Arts
Deasy (1999 ) writes of the involvement in the arts that demands fluency and facility with varieties of oral performances, literacy, and media projections. Through these multiple roles, youth have to produce numerous types of writing as well as oral performances of organizational genres. Young people can and do learn to talk through a set of plans and remain willing to go back to drafts to make their work better. But they also do much writing that is first-draft information-only. The same process is reflected in the process of making art. Deasy (1999) states that "Pupils in arts -intensive settings are also strong in their abilities to express thoughts and ideas, exercise their imaginations and take risks in learning" (p.36).
The initial guiding questions for this study reflect the nature of the partnership between the writing process and the creative art making process. The impact of the collaboration between the arts-teachers and the connections made with other content areas is made stronger and meaning is transferred effectively. Together, the impact of teacher collaboration and creative processes working together is unlimited. The methodology utilized will represent a grounded theory approach. This method allows the author to take the rich data collected from observations, interviews, and artifacts to potentially discover patterns in the interactions between organizations, teachers, students, and the instructional content. The purpose of grounded theory research intentionally uses discoveries from data to generate theories that explain "how" and "why" in a meaningful context, rather than to situate data within the context of known theories.
The Arts Education Partnership provides critical links of research that provide credibility
for arts integration concepts and the benefits they offer the life long learner. Deasy (1999) provides summary of the relationship between the arts and other content areas with the following powerful statement:
"What is critical is not that capacities and dispositions transfer from the arts to other subject areas as has often been argued , but that they are exercised broadly across different knowledge domains. Given this interpretation, no subject has prior rights over any other subject, for to diminish one is to diminish the possibility and promise of them all. If the arts are to help define our path to the future , they need to become curriculum partners with other subject disciplines in ways that will allow them to contribute their own distinctive richness and complexity to the learning process as a whole" (p.45).