SMARTS Arts Integration (AI)

smarts arts integration graphic (2)

The SMARTS Arts Integration Premier Program is customized for each partnership to teach the whole child and provide a new approach with strategies to bring arts learning to life, connect core content to the arts, and re-imagine the future of teaching and learning.

Arts Integration is a researched approach to teaching the arts and a core subject simultaneously that is heralded by the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts for its track record of improving long term retention of content and engaging students who have underperformed in traditional classrooms. Arts Integration involves teaching a core subject through a creative process to meet state standards in both the arts and the core subject simultaneously.

The SMARTS Arts Integration model also serves as a collaborative, ongoing professional development model that provides classroom teachers with new strategies to reach their students and reinvigorate their passion for teaching as they work with the SMARTS Teacher. SMARTS Teachers will collaborate with classroom teachers to adapt lessons in their curriculum from a traditional instructional approach to an arts-integrated instructional approach and be responsible for teaching all or portions of lessons. The content of the lesson remains the same, but the instructional approach changes to include the arts as a vehicle for the content. The SMARTS teacher is the arts expert and the classroom teacher is the content area expert, and they will meet regularly for planning to determine the best model for co-teaching and to determine how many lessons the SMARTS teacher will be responsible for per unit, according to the partnership’s approved schedule with SMARTS.

SMARTS trains its Community Teaching Artists through professional development to learn best practices for arts integration and then plants them in partner locations as Artists-in-Residence to model, train, and support classroom teachers to utilize the approach. SMARTS then builds and mentors teaching teams of arts teachers and classroom teachers so they may create arts integrated curriculum and teach together in tandem.

All SMARTS teachers demonstrate arts integration methods to students as well as expose students to the careers of working artists and teaching artists.

SMARTS Arts Integration theater improves student vocabulary scores

SMARTS Arts Integration Highlights

SMARTS @ Liberty Local Schools

SMARTS @ Liberty Local Schools

SMARTS Arts Integration music benefited student learning of states of matter in Grade 6 science at Jefferson PK-8 School.

Read Report

SMARTS @ South Side Academy

A SMARTS Artist-in-Residence used theater at South Side Academy to teach vocabulary. After one week of arts integrated lessons, 100% of students in Grade 5 passed vocabulary tests, where 25-50% of the class had failed weekly, and three students that consistently scored a 50% or lower received a score of 18/20 or higher.

Read the full report here.

SMARTS Professional Developments

In 2018-2019, SMARTS hosted three professional developments on arts integration through the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington D.C. that were attended by 33 teachers in Warren City Schools and over 110 teachers from around the state.

SMARTS Beats and Empowers

SMARTS Community Teaching Artist, Ed Davis, uses arts integration at Boardman Elementary through the SMARTS Beats program, where students with special needs drum rhythmic responses to the text they are reading in class.

SMARTS Public Programming

Students in a SMARTS Public Programming summer workshop illustrate the science of weather by smearing and smudging charcoal and pastel to imitate the effects of tornadoes in the atmosphere.

SMARTS @ Any Given Child, Warren

SMARTS led a Dance Arts Integration Day at McGuffey PK-8 School in Warren in May 2019, where Grades 2-8 had an SMARTS Artist in Residence lead dance arts integration lessons in their classrooms to help teach reading, social studies, and music.

SMARTS @ Any Given Child, Warren

SMARTS spear-headed a collaboration with the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra and Warren City Schools to reimagine the fall music and art contest as an arts integration lesson with over 40 students participating.

Read more.

What is Arts Integration?

"Arts Integration is an approach to teaching in which students construct or demonstrate meaning through an art form. Students engage in a creative process which connects an art form and another subject area and meets evolving objectives in both."

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

What does the research say?

The American Institutes for Research found that pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students in arts-integrated classes taught teachers who trained with the Wolf Trap Institute gained about 1.3 months of math learning in the first year over their peers. By the second year, they were 1.7 months ahead.

Read more

Arts Integration promotes long-term retention of academic content in a study conducted in an urban elementary school.

Read more


Arts Integration intervention for disadvantaged students in urban settings demonstrate significant improvement in learning, while advantaged students demonstrate consistent performance.

Read more

Early access to arts education increases cognitive development that improves reading comprehension, critical thinking, student motivation, and community in classrooms.

Read more

Example SMARTS Arts Integrated Lessons

Visual Art

Learn shapes as a component of both geometry and the elements of art, and create a cityscape out of geometric shapes using cut paper.


Use sound recording software to demonstrate understanding of algaebraic relationships.


Learn the principles of dance and apply them to demonstrate understanding of the molecules inside gas, liquids, and solids.


Use tableau, a frozen scene, and pantomime, silent acting, as students characterize and demonstrate the process of the circulatory system in the body.

Creative Writing

Learn about social commentary of the 1960s and write a copy change of song lyrics containing social commentary about present day to reflect instead the issues of the studied time period using metaphor and symbolism.

Arts Integration IS...

-A lesson that teaches arts standards

-A lesson that teaches content area standards

-Students making or practicing art in the lesson

-Inherently student-centered, problem-based, and project-based learning

-An arts teacher and a content area teacher collaborating on a unit in separate classrooms or co-teaching in one classroom

-Increasing the amount of arts education and arts teachers in schools by using the arts in every subject area to reach students who learn best by being creative

Arts Integration IS NOT...

-Arts enrichment

-Arts enhancement

-A field trip to an arts event or arts venue

-Drawing a picture to go with an assignment

-Adding stretches or brain breaks to a lesson to make it "kinesthetic"

-Making content area teachers learn to teach art to cut or eliminate arts teachers or programs in schools


Partner with SMARTS!

Contact SMARTS President Becky Keck,, to inquire about professional developments for teachers, Artists-in-Residence, or having a SMARTS teaching artist at your school all year with SMARTS programming.

About Us

SMARTS, Students Motivated by the Arts, is a community art school that provides classes in visual arts, music, dance, theater, and creative writing for our region's PK-12 youth with a focus on underserved populations.

Address: 25 East Boardman Street, First Floor, Youngstown, Ohio 44503

Phone: 330-574-2787


Our Services

SMARTS hires and prepares community teaching artists with professional training and oversight so that they can provide quality arts-focused teaching and learning with lesson plans that follow state standards. Since 1997, SMARTS classes have been free and open to the public and all students are accepted through a simple application process.

Find Us

Contact Us

Please enter your name.
Please enter a message.