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Arts Integration--Spring Lake Park Elementary School

Best Practice Summary

Start-Up Profile/Structures to Support Learning

Spring Lake Park Elementary School (SLPES) (Grades PreK–5)/Texarkana Independent School District (Texarkana ISD)

Accountability Rating:
Recognized (2008–09)

BPC Year of Recognition:

BPC Evidence Type:
Practice With Theory Based Evidence

Purpose of Program:
To increase student engagement and achievement, improve student behavior and social skills, and heighten understanding of the importance of the arts through integration of fine arts and subject-area instruction

Targeted Populations:
All students

Key Strategies/Approaches:

  • Introductory and ongoing workshops focused on building teacher knowledge of arts techniques and activities
  • Site-specific professional development for teachers focused on fine arts curricular integration across subject areas
  • Monthly collaborative grade-level work with professional development providers to design art-focused activities in foundation subject-area lessons and cross-disciplinary projects
  • Ongoing visiting artist programming and student access to community arts performances
  • Art-focused events to engage families and the community in school activities

Implementation Highlights:

Implementation Highlights:  2006-07: Intro ArtsSmart training, Site-based training every 6 weeks, Focus on visual art. 2007-08: Focus on drama added, Site-based training every 6 weeks. 2008-09: Focus on music/movement added, Site-based training every month

Supporting Evidence

Overview of Evidence:

Staff reported that the campus had not yet formally collected evidence of program impact and that the primary source of evidence was observational and anecdotal. The principal reported that the program provided an opportunity to develop the whole child (academic, mental, physical, social, and aesthetic). Teachers reported higher levels of student engagement and observed that students often grasped new material more quickly when instruction was delivered using visual or experiential techniques. The campus also reported substantial growth in teacher design and delivery of arts-based activities. Teachers moved from the simple use of art prints to illustrate key vocabulary to the development by teacher teams of thematic, cross-disciplinary units that have become part of the curriculum.

Since implementation, teacher use of arts-based strategies also expanded across grade levels and the school calendar. The principal reported that initially kindergarten teachers were more likely than other teachers to implement arts-integration strategies but that upper grade-level teachers were increasingly doing so as well. Additionally, the principal said teachers initially only tried new arts-based projects and activities in the fall or after TAKS but now incorporated arts-based lessons into their instruction year-round. Finally, staff reported that the execution and sophistication of student art work had improved dramatically.



  • The district has a contract with the Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council (TRAHC) to provide access to fine arts programming to all campuses in the district through TRAHC’s ArtsSmart Institute for Learning (for details, see TRAHC works primarily with schools in Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Florida to support arts integration in education. Key components for Texarkana ISD schools include access to grade-level appropriate performances at Texarkana’s Perot Theatre as well as artist-in-residence programming through which artists visit campuses and provide grade-appropriate performances, demonstrations, or workshops at the request of campus principals.  
  • The TRAHC contract also allows for more intensive technical assistance and professional development for interested campuses.
  • In 2006–07, the district superintendent asked all elementary campuses to identify a theme for their campus aligned with the district’s middle school academy structure. (For example, middle school academies included arts, leadership, community, and science and technology.) Because the SLPES principal had a background in arts and movement, she chose an arts focus for the campus theme, with the goals of improving achievement, providing character development activities, developing student social skills, and enhancing creativity and higher level thinking skills. SLPES participated in the TRAHC program as an ArtsSmart Intensive Model (AIM) campus with professional development, technical assistance, and access to arts programming provided by TRAHC.
Demographics (2008-09)

Demographics 2008-09. Grade levels served: PK-05. Campus enrollment: 385. Ethnic Distribution: African American 166, 43.1%. Hispanic 25, 6.5%. White 171, 44.4%. Asian/Pacific Islander 20, 5.2%. Economically Disadvantaged 244, 63.4%. Limited English Proficient (LEP) 11, 2.9%. At-risk 198, 51.4%. Mobilility 2007-08 69, 20.3%.
Source: Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS)


  • ArtsSmart training through TRAHC

Referral Process:



  • The campus principal reported that she polled all staff about implementing the ArtsSmart program and received “100% approval” to adopt an arts infusion model for the campus that integrated arts instruction into foundation subject-area teaching.
  • The principal, a teacher representing each grade level, and the former district arts specialist traveled to Mississippi to observe other ArtsSmart schools and see firsthand how arts could be integrated into instruction at the classroom level in all subject areas.
  • TRAHC provided a three-person ArtSmart team representing the arts areas of visual arts, drama, and music/movement to work with the campus’ foundation subject-area teachers and provide site-specific professional development in integration strategies.
  • At the beginning of each year, the ArtsSmart team provided an intensive workshop for teachers focused on one of the three fine arts areas: visual art, drama, and music/movement. During this session, teachers practiced arts techniques and discussed ways to introduce these techniques into classroom teaching activities. A TRAHC team member then came to the campus on an ongoing basis every six weeks for collaborative work with teachers on developing and integrating new activities. Sessions were scheduled for all grade-level teams during their common planning period in collaborative design of art activities to integrate into subject-area lessons for the month.
  • The first year, arts integration focused on visual arts. As an introduction, teachers painted their own over-sized self-portraits and hung them in their classrooms as models for student self-portrait activities. The focus was on abstract self-expression to emphasize that everyone could be successful, and there was not only one “right” way to produce a self-portrait. Teachers then used student self-portraits in a variety of academic activities. For example, some teachers focused work on identifying parts of speech (i.e., adjectives, nouns) using self-portraits, and third grade classes wrote paragraphs describing portraits. Staff also reported that the portraits were useful in building relationships by providing teachers and students with an opportunity to tell the class about themselves. As an extension of this activity, one class made self-portrait baseball cards stating student goals for the future.
  • Another key strategy introduced in the first year was the use of art prints in classroom teaching. Drawings and written reflections on visual art were common techniques that were incorporated into classroom instruction. Examples of sources for arts resources included Crystal Productions (for details, see and School Specialty (for details, see
  • During the second year, professional development focused on the introduction of drama-based activities. Teachers learned about and practiced improvisational techniques. One activity used in the classroom involved students responding to works of art by improvising the scenes depicted in the image. Another involved improvisation activities after reading a story. In another popular activity, called “tableau,” teachers showed students a work of art, and students responded with an interpretation through body language. Students were asked to be in contact/touching another student to provide a whole-class response to the image.
  • The focus of the third year of teacher training was on music and movement. Activities focused on the use of music as stimulus for writing. To increase teacher comfort with using movement in class, the principal and a TRAHC representative taught teachers movements to several songs with learning themes, also introducing the use of instruments.
  • Teachers also participated in additional workshops and training sessions throughout the year provided by TRAHC-sponsored artists and the ArtsSmart team. Examples of workshops included the following:
    • Teaching Curriculum through Art Prints
    • Poetry as Performance
    • Drumming as Storyteller and Music Maker
  • All professional development emphasized hands-on teacher exploration of art techniques and media and teacher-designed art projects.
  • Each year, TRAHC also provided a list of visiting artists from which the campus chose 3-4 for on-site programs. Some of this programming was provided through assemblies to all students; other artists worked directly with students in the classroom through grade-level focused projects. Examples included the following:
    • A “singing zoologist” who provided a presentation on animals and ecology
    • A Shakespearean performer who introduced a play with individual and audience roles
    • A puppeteer who worked with students to make puppets and present a story
  • The campus established an annual arts night event for families that featured “gallery” exhibitions of student work, slide show demonstrations of classroom projects, or performances.
  • The campus also incorporated displays of arts-based work at other family school events, such as the Thanksgiving Feast.
  • Teachers also created an annual history of music event in which they dressed up to represent performers of a particular decade or time period of musical trends, and students performed popular dances associated with the era. Students also studied historical events corresponding to the time period during class.
  • Each year, TRAHC sponsored a best practices workshop with featured speakers and additional professional development. As an AIM campus, SLPES was able to take up to eight staff to the event, while other district campuses could only take two or three staff members.
  • At the end of each year, the principal met with the TRAHC team to discuss the previous year’s activities and growth and to plan for the next year of implementation.
  • Through a TRAHC partnership with the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the district’s Director for Curriculum and Instruction, a TRAHC representative, and a team of additional staff representing school districts in the area traveled to the Kennedy Center in May 2010 to participate in professional development. One purpose of the visit was to explore ways the TRAHC partnership with the Kennedy Center would help further arts integration in the area. In the future, SLPES staff will have access to Kennedy Center professional development at a reduced rate.

Resources, Cost Components, and Sources of Funding:

The district supported the TRAHC programming with local district funds. Cost components at SLPES included the following:

  • Professional development and on-site support
  • Resources such as arts prints
  • Consumable supplies for arts-based projects

Literature Base:

  • Center for Educator Development in Fine Arts, Fine Arts Research (Program Support), for details, see
  • Deasy, R.J. (Ed.) (2002). Critical links: Learning in the arts and student academic and social development. Washington, DC: Arts Education Partnership. Retrieved from
  • Dennison, P.E., & Dennison, G.E. (2010). Brain Gym: Teacher’s edition. Ventura, CA: Edu-Kinesthetics, Inc.
  • Fiske, E. B. (Ed.) (1999). Champions of change: The impact of arts on learning. Washington, DC: Arts Education Partnership and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. Retrieved from
  • Jenson, E. (2001). Arts with the brain in mind. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

A profile of TRAHC’s ArtsSmart Institute for Learning is included in Designing the arts learning community: A handbook for K-12 professional development planners, which can be accessedat:

Lessons Learned


  • In the three years since the project was first implemented, the campus principal reported substantial growth in teacher comfort and innovation in integrating arts-based strategies.
  • Despite initial buy-in, the principal reported some hesitation and reluctance to begin introducing arts instruction from subject-area teachers. She reported that many staff needed instruction and practice in the arts techniques themselves before they felt comfortable modeling and using techniques in classroom projects.
  • Initially, some teachers were also afraid of losing control of their classrooms. The principal purposely opted for a slow implementation of arts infusion activities so that teachers did not become overwhelmed or resistant to the program.
  • The principal reported that the fine arts programming was easily integrated with the implementation of a new program to improve campus culture, Kids at Hope, implemented at SLPES in 2009–10 (for details, see

Contact Information


Spring Lake Park Elementary School
Texarkana Independent School District
4324 Ghio-Fish Boulevard
Texarkana, TX 75503

(903) 794-7525

Page last modified on 8/11/2011 10:13:39 AM.