Providing time and support for planning gives classroom teachers guided practice in applying new learning.

DEFINITION: What is Planning in an arts integration PD experience?

As teachers plan, the teaching artist asks them to take new learning from the PD experience and to adapt that learning to the specific contexts and challenges of their own classrooms. Frequently this will take the form of developing plans for lessons and units, utilizing structures, strategies and protocols from the PD experience.

PURPOSE: Why is Planning important to an arts integration PD experience?

Providing time and support for planning gives classroom teachers guided practice in applying new learning. While classroom teachers often have a wealth of experience in lesson planning, they will need opportunities to work through the new skills and considerations of creating arts-integrated learning activities for their students. Thoughtful incorporation of a planning phase can also infuse the learning with a sense of immediacy, purpose and relevance. As teachers immerse themselves in arts-integrated experiences and reflect on those experiences, questions of application will inevitably rise to the surface:


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✓  What amount of time will allow participants to develop plans for implementing ideas from the PD experience?
✓  What materials (e.g. templates, books, protocols) might you provide to teachers to help them begin planning practical ways to integrate the arts into their own lessons?
✓  What structures will you use for providing feedback to teachers as they plan?

  • What authentic connections exist between the arts and other content standards?
  • What changes would I need to make in my daily schedule to move from a subject-by-subject approach, to this more integrated approach to content?
  • How do I facilitate and manage the active style of learning that characterizes arts integration?
  • How can I best foster my students’ artistic and creative development?
  • I’m able to gauge where my students are as developing readers, but how can I figure out what is developmentally appropriate in terms of their arts-learning?
  • What sort of culminating artistic project or performance would best help students synthesize and communicate their learning?
  • How can I use student artwork to assess understanding?
  • What background knowledge do my students need to be successful?
  • How will I need to change the classroom environment?
  • What materials will I need?

The planning phase gives teachers an opportunity to start finding answers to these questions, with the assistance and feedback of fellow participants and the teaching artist.

My next step would be to try out one of these strategies in my classroom. We were given a strategies brainstorm worksheet, which I think will help me out tremendously when planning out a lesson. It breaks things down so that I can more easily understand how to plan for it.
-Classroom Teacher

IN PRACTICE: How might Planning be applied to an arts integration PD experience?

There are a range of ways to structure planning time in order to help teachers incorporate principles, techniques and protocols from their training into their own practice. Here are a few ideas:

Whole-group, guided planning: As a group, select a standard from a non-art subject and brainstorm possible connections in the arts. What medium or strategies might help students synthesize learning around this topic? Teachers are able to learn from each other in this process and the teaching artist can help guide the discussion, assessing where participants need more support or resources. This process also gives participants a chance to start to develop a plan and then analyze the possible merits or drawbacks of the approach they’ve chosen.

Arts Discipline Examples

Click on an arts discipline to view example.


During the final meeting of a 3-part workshop, teachers gather in grade-alike groups to brainstorm the use of new dance strategies within Wonders text, to support reading comprehension. Each teacher selects one text and plans the instructional prompts, scaffolding activities to build background knowledge and extend student learning. After 30 minutes of planning, teachers re-mix with teachers from other grade levels to engage in a tuning protocol.

4 minutes – Presenter shares context and planning ideas, without interruption

4 minutes – Participants discuss the presenter’s ideas, without interruption

2 minutes – Presenter discusses what she is thinking now, with open exchange of dialogue

All Dance Examples


During a one-hour in-service PD experience, classroom teachers discuss and plan for how they might apply what they learned during the workshop session to their own curricular needs.  The strategy brainstorm template offers teachers a structure for thinking through the facilitation process in a manner similar to how a teaching artist works.  The template encourages teachers to consider not only what material they will use to integrate a drama strategy, but also how they will guide students to construct and demonstrate understanding by addressing evolving objectives in both the art and the integrated subject.

All Drama Examples


At the end of a weeklong music summer institute, a teaching artist guides participants through lesson planning. The goal is for participants to be prepared to implement strategies with their students. The teaching artist uses a backwards design process by beginning with the end in mind and then progressing through the steps necessary to get there.

  1. The teaching artist first asks classroom teachers to articulate two learning targets (or standards), one in music and one in math.
  2. The teaching artist also guides teachers to create an essential question to deepen the learning target.
  3. Once all of the classroom teachers have accomplished that step, the teaching artist asks them to describe the assessment(s) that they plan to use to know how well students are reaching their goal.
  4. After the classroom teachers have described their assessment(s), the teaching artist asks them to scaffold a series of 2-3 strategies they learned during the institute to obtain the learning objective.

Throughout the planning process the teaching artist may ask teachers to discuss their ideas with each other in pairs or small groups and may also stop for brief large group discussions for teachers to share their steps. This allows the teaching artist to assess teachers’ progress, to provide feedback or reflection, and for teachers to learn from each other.

Once classroom teachers have created a plan to implement what they have learned, they may share in small or large groups what their first steps will be or what their timeline is, to encourage a specific commitment to action.

All Music Examples

Visual Arts

After participating as learners in a thematic unit that integrates art and science, examining the unit structure and reflecting on their own experience in the workshop, classroom teachers form grade-level groups to plan thematic units for their classrooms. They use a unit template and receive support and feedback from the workshop facilitator.

All Visual Arts Examples

Pair-share: Immediately after learning a new technique, strategy or protocol, ask classroom teachers to turn to a partner and talk about one way they might apply this in their classroom.

Grade-level groupings: It is often helpful for classroom teachers who work at similar grade levels to talk about the specific opportunities and challenges for arts integration with their age group. With the support of planning templates (see Resources) and feedback from the teaching artist, participants can collaboratively begin the process of adapting ideas from the workshop for the children in their classes. Grade-level planning can help address some of these questions:

  • Which grade-level standards and benchmarks are best suited for an arts-integrated approach?
  • What kinds of artistic tasks are developmentally appropriate for students at a particular grade level?
  • What management structures and room set-up will help students of a particular grade level to work with the greatest autonomy?

Lesson planning: Providing structured time for individual participants to create lesson plans during the PD experience further supports teachers’ ability to apply their new understanding, creating a critical bridge to future implementation. During this planning phase, it is helpful for teachers to have access to protocols from the PD experience and the internet so they can look up standards, benchmarks and other pertinent information.

A tuning protocol (see Resources) can provide classroom teachers with the feedback they need to insure their lesson plans are “in tune” with their learning objectives (See Learning Targets). As part of this protocol, a classroom teacher presents her/his lesson plan to other participants. The participants ask clarifying questions, examine the work, and provide feedback. The experience can provide a framework for other participants to analyze and make adjustments to their own lesson plans.

In addition to supporting classroom teachers’ initial steps toward application, this type of activity can provide a lasting format for collaboration as teachers implement ideas from the PD experience at their schools.