The second article, Re-Placing the Arts in Elementary School Curricula: An Intersdisciplinary, Collaborative Action Research Project (Trent & Riley, 2009), describes a collaborative effort to create and implement an art-integrated unit. The unit chosen was “Privacy: Foundations of Democracy” (published by the Center for Civic Education, 1997), and included integrated lessons aligned with Social Studies, Language Art, and Visual Arts standards. Students were able to demonstrate their understanding of the content in a variety of ways (drawings, cut-paper artwork, poems, etc.). The study displayed many positive findings, including: increased student enjoyment, engagement, and student learning across all areas of content. I like that this study proved something that I have felt strongly about. I have a very difficult time demonstrating understanding and putting my thoughts in words (which is the most commonly used style in my experience), so I really like the use of a variety of response styles. I believe more of an effort should be made to integrate disciplines, especially when it provides various methods and opportunities for demonstrating understanding.
These two articles provide good insight into the benefits of interdisciplinary teaching. The following Venn diagram shows some of the main similarities/differences: