EDAR 528: Brains on Fire: Rekindling Imagination in the Classroom

Brains on Fire: How Research on the Brain Can Inform Arts Education

Instructor: Catherine Ring

EDAR 528 Brains on Fire: Rekindling Imagination in the Classroom, K-8

(This course has been approved as one of four courses toward Gifted Talented endorsement 690 K-12 by the Maine Department of Education. This is a hybrid course, meaning it meets in person for two short weekends, with inter-session and post-session work). The course is currently offered for 4.5 CEUs.


This course will take an in-depth look at the significant role the arts can play in learning. Participants will see examples of student learning through visual art, dance, music and drama; learn about the critical evidence of improved academic achievement by students who are regularly exposed to the arts; and participate in practical, hands-on arts integration lessons which can be used immediately in the classroom. Helpful resources, including books, videos, websites, wikis and lesson plans will be shared. Collaborative work between arts teachers and classroom teachers are encouraged. Participants will take away a renewed sense of confidence that they CAN make a difference in their classroom by making room for the arts, and thereby promote engaged students through a rich learning culture.

As William Butler Yeats said, "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." There is no doubt about it, the arts motivate and inspire students. Yet, in our high-stakes testing culture, the arts do not receive as many resources as other disciplines and often are the first to be cut when budgets are tight.  Not only do the arts motivate, they help students attain critical 21st century skills. Creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and problem-solving are all taught through the arts. While countries around the world are beginning to teach these important skills, creativity in the United States is on the decline.  It is up to all of us to ensure that we maximize the arts to support the development of creativity in our schools.


A laptop is required. Please bring to the first session. Internet access is a requirement during the course. If this is problematic for you, please contact the instructor.  Many of the resources for the course will be accessible to participants on a wiki site.  Additional readings will be required.


Upon successful completion of this course, educators will be able to:

  • *  Demonstrate an understanding of the value of arts integration as inspiration for student success based on current research
  • *  Apply many useful resources on specific ideas on the connections between the arts and other content areas
  • *  Design quality arts integrated lesson plans and units using the Understanding by Design model
  • *  Practice immersion in hands-on arts lessons and share with classes
  • *  Utilize integrative technology tools (wikis, digital media) throughout the course
  • *  Apply instructional strategies to Gifted and Talented students