Communication refers to the literacy aspect of Arts Integration. This is an area where you likely may already be integrating the arts. Since the appearance of Multiple Intelligence theory, many teachers have been expanding the repertoire of formats for students to demonstrate their learning beyond the written essay. Many have been disappointed by lackluster results. This stems from the fact that the thinking skills for communicating visually, or through song or performance, have been given little to no emphasis in the curriculum, whereas writing has been given the utmost attention on a daily basis.

Utilizing Arts Integration in this area would involve explicitly teaching the communication principles and processes involved in the chosen area – for example, teaching concepts such as the effective use of foreground and background space, discerning use of color or typeface to achieve the intended mood, and strategies for emphasizing the most important visual information. With creative attention to these skills, formats that have been abandoned for being “not creative” – such as the lowly poster or PowerPoint slideshow can become masterful jewels of visual communication.

This is also an area where Arts Integration and Tech Integration can work together very well – with Tech providing the tools, the Arts providing the communication skills, and the subject area providing the content.

Each of the arts disciplines has its own “language” system for communicating. Each consists of a number of basic elements (the “vocabulary”), and a number of principles or concepts (the “syntax”) for organizing those elements in a composition. 

Just as in the case of writing, it is important for students to become familiar with the language system and the nuances of meaning that are created by adjusting them one way or another. When students become more fluent in these languages, we will be moving towards 360° literacy!

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