Integrating VAPA


Marina Abramović, The Artist Is Present, 2010

I lead the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Committee in LHCSD and am always looking for inspirational articles to share.  This week I focused my search on the arts and was pleased to find several motivational articles about integrating VAPA in the classroom.

When integrating arts with the common core, Yarnes (2015) suggests six steps.  1)  Find a theme or focus  2)  Find the art 3)  Close read the art 4)  Create an art project 5)  Write and discus  6)  Reflect.  For example, perhaps the theme from your literature is taking a stand.  Use the search feature at the Getty Art Museum to find art with that theme.  Select a piece of art to close read with your students. Decide on an art project using whatever materials are easily available, such as crayons, pencils or construction.  After the students have created their art, write about it.  Finally, reflect on the lesson to make it even better next time.

When selecting art, Goodman (2015) reminds us to find current artists to inspire students.  We need to remind students that art is a form of communication beyond the walls of a museum.  For example, El Anatsui is a Ghanian sculptor who uses everyday “trash” to create works that remind us that materials have inherent beauty and to be mindful of human consumption and ecology.  Ai Weiwei, a Chinese sculptor, designed the Nest for the Beijing Olympics and has since been imprisoned for his art that criticizes the anti-democratic nature of the Chinese government.  JR is a French street artist and photographer who uses grand scale projects in public places to bring attention to the disenfranchised.  To see a sample of their work, click below.   Through these examples, students may come to see art as more than an expression of beauty and awaken their artistic voice.

Current Artists

Lenz (2015) highlights an example of VAPA integration in San Rafael, CA through an initiative called  Classroom Connections.  In this school-wide effort, classroom teachers and VAPA specialists collaborate to explore shared concepts and parallel processes.  The classroom teachers share the essential topics to be understood and the VAPA specialists share  studio habits of mind to help deepen understanding.  Together they create units that give students opportunities to share their understanding artistically.

I hope you find these short articles useful in thinking about VAPA integration at your school!

Goodman, S. (2015, November 10). 8 Living Artists Every Educator Should   Know. Retrieved November 22, 2015, from /blog/8-living-artists-every-educator-should-know-stacey-goodman

Lenz, B. (2015, July 10). Classroom Connections: Arts Integration Up Close. Retrieved November 22, 2015, from

Yarnes, L. (2015, October 13). 6 Steps Toward Arts Integration. Retrieved November 22, 2015, from


3 thoughts on “Integrating VAPA

  1. I was reading an article about how our current educational system is still following the industrial model, to control, to do, not think. Creativity, innovation, and the arts are not a goal- high tests scores are. On a typical day, how much time do students spend creating, innovating, and using art a medium to express their learning? In my two decades of teaching, with all the imposed curriculum, teachers are overwhelmed and have no valuable time to spend on the arts. The ideas you posted are great and simple for teachers to integrate into their daily curriculum. We must allow our students to use their creativity…. We can test how much they know how to create, simply by walking into a classroom, providing students a piece of paper, and asking them to create something. The eyes and responses will shock any educator that values creativity.

    Liked by 1 person

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