The Arts and the Common Core State Standards

By serendipitous luck, I found the following blog that focuses on art outcomes in the elementary grades. Author Meg Riley, apart from having students engage in the production of art works, annotates how she connects a lesson to history, aesthetics, and criticism. It is worth a visit if you are looking to bring these important outcomes into your classroom.

Riley’s blog also serves as a reminder that “text” should not be limited to just words on a page. You can get to a number of Common Core standards by understanding that the artistic disposition of careful observation attends to important literary habits. That is, by asking text-dependent questions about a masterpiece, you can have students focusing on what a sculpture, painting, photograph, (aka text) says, how the artists says it and what it means.

Forgotten in all the sturm und drang of the Common Core State Standards is how the CCSS have proven to be an avenue to restore science, history, social studies and the arts in the elementary grades. Too often, in favor of chasing higher test scores, these disciplines were ignored or neglected in elementary schools. The authors of the CCSS clearly understand that teaching content is teaching reading and that student achievement will only increase with a lot of opportunities to work in the content areas. In fact, this is exactly the point CCSS author David Coleman makes in the video here. Coleman encourages us to ask (minute 5:19), “what do the arts do that literacy teachers could learn from?”


About Aaron Grossman

I am a 5th grade teacher at Roy Gomm Elementary in Reno, Nevada. I started working with elementary students as part of the Montana Reads program and AmeriCorps. In 2001, after graduating from the University of Montana and moving to Reno, Nevada, I student taught at Rita Cannan Elementary before receiving a 6th grade position at Veterans Elementary. I moved out of the classroom to be a Literacy Coordinator, then an Instructional Coach, and finally a School Improvement Program Coordinator. In 2011, I began working on the Nevada Academic Content Standards in the district’s Curriculum & Instruction Department. I returned to the classroom for the 2015-2016 school year to teach 4th grade at Huffaker Elementary. Before returning to the classroom, I helped develop the Core Task Project that has been featured by National Public Radio, the Gates Foundation, American Radio Works, Eduwonk, the Fordham Institute, Vox, and the Center for American Progress. In 2014, I received the Leader to Learn From Award for my teacher-centered initiative and work to bring college, career, and civics ready outcomes into Northern Nevada classrooms (here). In 2015, I was appointed by Governor Sandoval serve on the Statewide RPDP Council. The same year, Nevada’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction Steve Canavero placed me on the state’s State Improvement Team. This year I will be part of the National Council on Teacher Quality’s Teacher Advisory Group. I am Google Certified Educator and a Nevada Teacher Ambassador. I believe strongly that teaching content is teaching reading and I make sure my students have ample opportunities to work with social studies, history, science and art outcomes. I do what I can to blend the learning for my students and this blog is part of that effort. You can contact me at
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2 Responses to The Arts and the Common Core State Standards

  1. brcrosby says:

    Not sure about your statement that: “It is worth a visit if you are looking to bring these important outcomes into your classroom.” Shouldn’t it be more about we SHOULD be, must be bringing these important outcomes into your classroom? Along with deep learning about science and social studies and PE and more? Too many teachers are still focused on just language arts and math after years and years of being told that was what is best for students … does this kind of statement support a broad, rich curriculum for ALL students? Maybe I’m being too picky, but I deal with that culture of language arts and math only for “those students” mentality daily.

    • I hope people take the time to read the last paragraph. I tried to make it clear that if we are really going to boost achievement, educators have to be working in all the content areas.

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