ArtCore: The Development of an Immersive Arts-Integration Model for Middle Schools


 ArtCore is a 4-year model development and research initiative that joins community creatives and middle school teachers to develop arts-based teaching and learning customized to meet the needs and goals of the school. Partners include the U.S. Department of Education, the Oregon Community Foundation, the Educational Policy Improvement Center, Springfield School District, Lane Arts Council, the University of Oregon, Media Arts Institute,  and other Lane County school districts.

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The ArtCore Model

  • Staged implementation for school-wide transformation
  • Technology-driven access for professional and personal growth
  • A focus on motivational factors of learning and change
  • Integration of creative disciplines and academic domains through an inquiry-based and standards-based instructional model
  • Collaborative development between creative professionals and classroom teachers using an Essential Question of the Week to build towards a convergent Big Idea integrated with Studio Habits of Mind.
  • Representation of ‘art’ as a process of experiencing and contributing to the world creatively and personally
  • Video vignettes depicting the stories, insights, and creative work of community members, students, and educators

Teaching artists from the community will participate to generate unique arts integration learning modules, driven by standards and guided by expertise in music, dance, theater, and visual arts disciplines. With guidance, training, and curated resources, teaching artists and classroom teachers will develop and facilitate 10-week modules that integrate academic learning objectives, creative inquiry skills, and familiarity with different art disciplines. These efforts to make teaching and learning come alive through exploration and creation in the arts will be captured in professionally produced video vignettes.

Where is ArtCore?

Starting in April 2015, ArtCore will unfold in 5 middle schools across Lane County supported by 5 innovative and talented artists. In the Bethel School District, Cascade Middle School 7th grade science and social studies teachers are collaborating with artist Michele Sinclair. In Springfield, Hamlin Middle School 7th grade language arts teachers are co-creating writing, improv, and performance curriculum with Nate Beard. 4J School District’s Kelly Middle School 7th grade math, social studies, and leadership instructors are creating with artist Jessica Land. 7th and 8th grade math and social studies instructors Network Charter School  are working with artist and musician Mari Livie. In Junction City, Oaklea Middle School continues to work through 7th grade social studies and language arts with public artist and ceramicist, Betsy Wolfston.

 ArtCore Research and Assessment

The project team will collect and analyze data on implementation and student outcomes. Over the course of the project, several research studies will inform the development and evaluate the impact of the ArtCore model. The early phase of the research will look at the usability of the model and how students and teachers respond to the different research and implementation tools. The later phases of the research plan will investigate changes in attitude, behavior, skill, and knowledge of both teachers and students and the levers that make this change most durable. Additionally, schoolwide indicators, such as attendance and discipline reports, will show what, if any, shifts may occur as a result of the project.

In order for the project and supporting research to initiate and sustain a shift in school-wide practices, the model generates transformative professional learning experiences, comprehensive resources for teaching and learning, and new assessments that measure the breadth of the student experience. Because it is a new initiative, data collection and research will be conducted to understand the impact and how to make improvements.

The Future of ArtCore 

As the project evolves, unique integrative teaching approaches, dynamic training experiences, and customized school implementation will be thoroughly documented for school leaders in the future who wish to replicate the model for their school community.