Making Connections: Transforming MAEIA Assessments into Arts-Integrated Learning Opportunities

By Karenanna Boyle Creps

In this series of 4 blog posts, I will share ideas inspired by MAEIA assessments for arts curriculum integration across K-12 school subjects. These arts integration ideas are intended to foster interconnection across school subject areas that could lead to longer-term interdisciplinary collaborations between certified arts educators and certified non-arts educators in schools across the State of Michigan. Student learning deepens across subject areas with the insight cross-disciplinary teaching and learning can provide.


Arts Subject Area: Music

Grade Level: 3rd
MAEIA Assessment:
M.E232 Evaluating a Performance Using a Rubric

NCAS Anchor Standard: M:Re9: Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work.

Non-Arts Subject Area to Integrate: English Language Arts

ELA Content Standard: 3rd Grade Reading Standard 1: Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.


The MAEIA description of the assessment, Evaluative a Performance Using a Rubric reads: students will evaluate a performance using the criteria provided. Students will be evaluated based on the depth and accuracy of their evaluation and reflection. It is suggested that the performance to be evaluated by the students be a performance of the students themselves or of another school group. This will allow for the most thorough and applicable evaluation.

This MAEIA assessment for grades 3, 4, and 5 is ideal for arts integrated learning, because it is a performance evaluation that focuses exclusively on technical elements of a performance, including pitch accuracy, rhythm accuracy, dynamics, expressive elements, and preparedness.  The rubric for this assessment does not specify the type of music performance the students review, just that they watch a music performance and use a rubric (provided by the MAEIA assessment) to evaluate technical qualities of a performance.  This means that a music teacher has the freedom to choose any type of music they feel would work well for their students, and that music can be performed by students or by other musicians. Technical arts subject area assessments leave the content open to the opportunity of incorporating content from any other discipline.  For example, an arts-integrated collaboration between the music teacher and a 3rd grade teacher could result in combining the music content and English Language Arts (ELA) content standards to meet learning objects in both.

One easy way to incorporate arts-integrated learning into technical assessments like this is to add a new context of analysis, like an examination of the lyrics during a choral performance.  The 3rd grade reading standard listed above focuses on reading, understanding, and referencing a text.  Both the music and ELA content standards are asking for a type of subject-specific analysis, so students could come to the performance they analyze with a rubric for both the music and ELA content.  This is a helpful and direct way to reveal the inherent interdisciplinarity of the content that they might not otherwise notice.

When preparing to teach students a unit that culminates in students’ assessment of a music performance, a music teacher could work with an ELA teacher to find a song that aligns with both the music and ELA content they want to teach.  In this case, the ELA content is about comprehension of a text by referencing the text, itself.  Students can learn about song lyrics as poetry, narrative, storytelling, or another literary form, referencing the lyrics, themselves, to support their understanding of them.  This would deepen their connection with the lyrics to meet the expectations of the ELA standard.  The ELA teacher could incorporate an examination of the song lyrics into their lessons before the music teacher introduces the song to their shared 3rd graders (or vice versa).  Then, when the students go to music class (or ELA class), they will experience the delight of encountering a new (but familiar!) text.  The music teacher can connect technical elements of the music, such as the expressive elements of the song, to the meanings of the words of the song the students have already studied.  The collaborating teachers could then decide if it makes more sense for their students to assess a performance with the addition of ELA content in the rubric, or if the ELA teacher will provide their own assessment that is informed by the arts-integrated learning experiences students have had with both teachers.

This integration allows for instructional differentiation that could broaden and deepen students’ understandings of the connections between technical elements of music performance and the meanings embedded within song lyrics. Success in this approach can also boost self-confidence thus making other content learning easier for a student and quite possibly increasing students’ interest towards learning further content.

Learning about the lyrics through an examination of performance and technique could allow students who might be struggling in ELA class to have AHA! moments learning about the song to support their ELA learning in new and helpful ways.  In the end, the students and teachers both stand to benefit from this kind of collaboration, because teachers work to help students learn and grow and students learn and grow better when they are given multiple opportunities to encounter knowledge through multiple disciplines and approaches.


Karenanna Boyle Creps, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Teacher Education at Michigan State University. She is the Subject Area Leader of Arts Integration and the Licensure Area Leader for K-12 Visual Arts Education. Her research interests are in arts education, experiential learning, intercultural education abroad, the ethics of education research, and arts-based research methodologies. 

 Images provided by Getty Images/iStockphoto and  sheetmusicplus.

Click here for a Printer friendly version of this article.

Leave a Reply