Creating and teaching the arts-infused curriculum: a case study of art, music, and drama in an exemplary elementary classroom

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Wheat, Brenda Michelle

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The purpose of this study was to develop a case study of teaching and learning through an arts-infused curriculum in an exemplary elementary classroom. In particular, the aim was to examine and describe how and why art, music, and drama were used in a self-contained second grade classroom. A qualitative case study methodology was employed to describe the various activities used within the classroom and to investigate the reasons the teacher uses this particular approach to instruction. Data was collected from classroom observations conducted over one semester, multiple interviews with the participant, and documents from the classroom. The teacher was identified as an exemplary educator by her professional recognitions, including Marine Educator of the Year, National Teacher Training Institute Teacher of the Year, Texas Marine Educators Association Educator of the Year, and a Presidential Award for Elementary Science Teaching, as well as special recognition from the Texas Medical Association and the Association for Texas Professional Educators. The classroom was a self-contained second grade classroom located in a suburban, Central Texas district rated as exemplary by the state. The findings conclude that art is used in this classroom to reinforce content learning, to help the children organize their ideas, and to create an experience. Music is used to reinforce thematic units, to help the children memorize information, and as a creative writing activity. Drama is used for expressive communication, as a means of conveying content information, and as a stimulant for critical thinking. Three themes were consistently present in the art, music, and drama activities: 1) the activities were open-ended, 2) the teacher helped the children to pay attention to detail, and 3) all of the activities were grounded in content learning.