The heART of the Core: Why the Arts Bring the Common Core to Life

Posted by Susan Riley, Jul 19, 2013 2 comments

Susan Riley Susan Riley

This summer, many teachers and administrators across the country will be attending conferences and professional development sessions that focus on the Common Core State Standards in preparation for the upcoming school year.  Before many of their toes even touch a sandy beach, these dedicated educators will cross hundreds of miles and spend many hours getting ready for a whole new way of instruction.

But where are the Arts?

What happens to our arts teachers, museum curators, performers, teaching artists and arts administrators?  Are they afforded the same opportunity as their peers for rigorous, relevant professional development in unpacking the Common Core Standards for their subject areas?  As has happened so often in the past, for many the answer is a resounding “no.”

These educators may instead be expected to attend the same sessions as their colleagues from English Language Arts and Math and to “make connections” to what is being presented.  Different program, same delivery.

I think this is a huge problem for a number of reasons.  First, the arts teachers, artists, and administrators need to see that the Common Core is not an “add-on,” but rather a reflection of deeper thinking and building enduring practices that span all content areas.   Not to mention that we would never ask reading and math teachers to attend professional development that wasn’t clearly about their content and then ask them to make connections.  Equity in all contents is the key to building a stronger foundational base of support for any professional development.

Secondly, I believe whole-heartedly that the Arts hold the key to unlocking the potential of the Common Core and bringing them to life.  The Common Core Standards are written in a way which engages students in problem-solving, inquiry, collaboration and critical thinking.  The skills that are taught cannot be singularly tested in a vacuum.  Instead, they are assessed in relationship with each other.  The arts are the pathways between the skills which enable students to build those relationships between concepts.

With this in mind, my team and I set out on a mission to offer professional development this summer that was dedicated to sharing how the arts make these connections, skills and strategies in the arts that can be used to integrate teaching, and to provide a platform of advocacy that showcases the true need for arts as rigorous courses in their own right in the Common Core fabric.

The Connectivity Conference 2013 is an online, Arts Integration conference that provides relevant and engaging professional development to all educators interested in using the arts as an approach to learning.  We have speakers and presenters from all over the nation, including Kristen Engebretsen from Americans for the Arts, who will be sharing their perspectives as teachers and artists with us throughout the day.  I encourage you to explore this opportunity for bringing the Common Core to life through the arts, and extend a personal invitation to welcome you as a collaborator in this journey.

For more information about the intersection of the arts and Common Core, you can read 20 essays right here on ARTSblog that I and others contributed last year.

The conference will take place live on Friday, July 26th, but will also be available on-demand afterwards. To register for the Connectivity Conference, visit

2 responses for The heART of the Core: Why the Arts Bring the Common Core to Life


March 30, 2014 at 9:12 am

Please let me know what on line common core and the arts conference is available Summer 2014. what kind of software is needed support it. I registered for Susan Riley's Common Core and the Arts winter 2013 and lost the money because I didn't have the software to support it.

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elizabeth says
August 26, 2014 at 10:55 am

I was wondering if the lessons in EdCloset will come out soon with the New National Core Art Standards?

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