Home > Practitioner's Corner > Including the Arts in All Lessons

Including the Arts in All Lessons

Including arts activities in any subject and at any grade level can be simple and fun. It doesn’t need to be additional work and may substitute for some other activity you usually do.

Visual Arts. Are there components of the lesson that students can draw, sketch, color, or paint? Would a visual arts project be acceptable as an alternative assessment to measure student understanding?

Example: A science teacher has a student draw a chart to illustrate the important steps in an experiment.

Music.Is there an appropriate song or other musical composition that could be incorporated into the lesson or unit? Remember that music is a very effective memory device. Is there a familiar tune that would help students remember important facts about the unit?

Example: A social studies teacher has students put important facts about the Revolutionary War to a familiar melody.

Literary Device. Could students write a poem, limerick, or play to illustrate major points in the unit? Rhyming is also an excellent memory tool: “In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue . . .”

Example: A mathematics teacher has students devise limericks to help them remember the mathematical order of operations.

Dance and Theater. Is there a dance that could help students remember some critical events or information? Can students act out a play that other students wrote?

Example: An English teacher has students write and act out a different but plausible ending to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

Community Artists. Are there community artists who can demonstrate their skills in the classroom? Teachers working with artists receive on-the-job training and learn techniques that they can use later on their own.

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  1. luz
    March 26, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Art is the steps the help our brain, I like the idea to including the arts in my spanish class.

  2. March 29, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Hi Dr. Sousa:

    Sorry if this seem like an obtuse method to contact you.

    I have a question I hope you can help me with. In your book, How the Brain Learns, Page 95 you use the “Retention Pyramid. In the text you site a report by Moore (2005). I am trying to pull the thread on that research and have obtained a copy of K. D. Moore’s book and have failed to find any reference to the report. I was hoping you could help me identify the source.

    Thanks in advance,

    Chris

    • Dr. David Sousa
      March 30, 2012 at 6:59 pm

      Hi Chris,

      Thank you for your inquiry. When I wrote the fourth edition of “How the Brain Learns,” which was published in 2011, I deleted the learning pyramid. My reason for eliminating it was that the original research for it was done by the Batell Laboratories in the 1960s. Although the study had been replicated in various forms over the years — mainly by graduate students — the reported results were increasingly mixed and often contradictory. Plus, given how much technology has changed our environment, and given the brain’s plasticity, I decided the percentages associated with the original pyramid were probably not accurate in today’s world. To my knowledge, there is no other recent study looking into the exact components of the original pyramid. My advice is to not use the pyramid percentages because they would most likely not stand the scrutiny of current research practice.

      That is not to say that the conceptual intent of the pyramid is completely invalid. There is sufficient research evidence showing that retention of learning is very high when individuals learn in a multi-modality environment, and when they apply and reteach others what they have learned. This rehearsal process is key to long-term memory consolidation. The problem comes in assigning percentages.

      I hope this helps.

      David A. Sousa

  3. April 2, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Thank you for your reply. I have researched the topic over the years and your book was the only one that ever gave a source for the pyramid. As other authors if have contacted (like Bob Pike) they have all dropped the pyramid. I heartily agree that a multi-modality environment will enhance retention. I believe spaced review events are our best asset.

    Best regards,

    Cj

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