Written by Patricia Hawke for

Many people understand the importance of exposure to the arts. We love art; it is a necessary part of our society. In fact, for every culture and every society, art in some form or another is critical to how we live. For many, many years, arts programs have been cut in Oklahoma City Schools in efforts to divert funds to “more pressing” subject areas like reading and mathematics. While these are indeed necessary subjects for Oklahoma City Schools students to master, including an arts education in a student’s learning experiences can do nothing but improve their time attending Oklahoma City Schools, as well as contribute to the amount of success they see as a whole.
Most Oklahoma City Public Schools concentrate on teaching students in three ways; by showing them how to do things, by telling them the information they need, or by giving them opportunities to try things themselves (also known as visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles).
There are, in fact, many learning styles as identified by Howard Gardner, psychologist and noted pedagogical theorist:
-          Linguistic – “word-smart”
-          Interpersonal – “people smart”
-          Bodily-kinesthetic – “body smart”
-          Logical-mathematical – “math smart”
-          Naturalist – “nature smart”
-          Spatial – “picture smart”
-          Musical – “music smart”
-          Intrapersonal – “self smart”
More than ever, schools are realizing the importance of addressing all of these learning styles. Students attending certain Oklahoma City Schools are reaping the benefits of the commitment to providing educational experiences via these learning styles.
In efforts to give more and more students an education that addresses their specific learning style(s), some Oklahoma City Schools are integrating the arts into their programs. Following an “A+” model originally begun in North Carolina, Oklahoma City Schools are instituting their own arts integration programs. Originally a project of the
DaVinci Institute, it is currently administered by the University of Central Oklahoma.
The model being used by Oklahoma City Schools looks at 8 different areas to improve arts integration in their schools:
1) Arts;
2) Curriculum;
3) Multiple intelligences;
4) Experiential learning;
5) Enriched assessment;
6) Collaboration;
7) Infrastructure; and
8) Climate
For teachers employed with Oklahoma City Schools, the program has been a godsend. All educators strive to “light the spark” and desperately want to reach all - 100% - of their students. For the instructional staff, of the Oklahoma City Schools using this model, discovering how to appeal to the different ways children learn has been exactly what they have been looking for.
Another impressive aspect of the program is the Oklahoma City Schools professional development that goes along with it. Instead of giving newly trained teaches the manual with the expectation that they follow the model, the A+ model provides extensive and ongoing training and support to all teachers new to the program. Oklahoma City Schools’ teachers focus on learning to work together, using research-based practices to establish curriculum that includes interdisciplinary themes that foster arts integration across classes as well as use Gardner’s various learning styles.
Clearly, Oklahoma City Schools are working to improve learning, one style at a time.