Five Tips for Using the SMART I AM Approach for Inclusive Arts Integration

By A. Helene Robinson, Ed.D.

I developed the SMART I AM approach, standing for Self-Managed, ART Integrated, Active Methods, from years of training practitioners in designing and implementing art integrated activities for students with varying exceptionalities and abilities. Since many students with disabilities have challenges with self-instruction, self-monitoring, and self-evaluation, utilizing methods that will increase their self-management skills will enable them to participate more independently, which could increase their motivation and self-efficacy. Furthermore, a value to the techniques included in the SMART I AM approach is the application across multiple contexts. The tips below will guide practitioners in the how and why of the SMART I AM method, as explained in the May 2018 VSA webinar.

  1. Incorporate task-analysis and self-management strategies in arts instruction. A task analysis sequences the desired steps needed to complete a specific task. Self-management strategies are personally applied behavior change techniques that produce a desired change in behavior, facilitating a strong internal point of control (Garguilo & Metcalf, 2017).
  2. Utilize student rubrics to develop students’ self-evaluation skills. Designing and implementing student task sheets (task analysis) will develop students’ self-instruction (verbally reviewing to oneself the steps of a task) and self-monitoring skills (tracking one’s own behavior while working and making choices to increase productivity).
  3. Design student task sheets by the phases of the creative process. This will ensure that students are engaged in all phases of the artistic process (Silverstein & Layne, 2010). List each step of the process that students need to complete to be ready to share their product or performance with the class, and use the verbs to guide you in creating each step: imagine/examine/perceive, explore/experiment/develop craft, create, reflect/assess/revise, and share.
  4. Direct students to reflect on their art based on rubric criteria, so that they are ready to share and explain how their work demonstrates the artistic and academic concepts. This step is crucial to develop students’ self-evaluation skills and should be more than students just reflecting on ways they may want to revise their art product or performance.
  5. Design student rubrics to include the actual art and academic concepts/skills (vocabulary) that you want students to use to explain each criteria. Emphasis should be on students explaining how their choice of the specific art concepts/skills was used to communicate specific academic concepts/skills (arts integration activities) and specific feelings/thoughts. Write the rubric criteria so that they are quantifiable by levels to ensure that children can “count” and self-evaluate to know which level they are striving for when they explain and share their art.


Photo of Helene Robinson, a woman with short hair standing on a beach at sunsetHelene Robinson, Ed.D., is the Arts Integration Curriculum Coordinator for the School of Education at the University of South Florida Sarasota Manatee campus. Her work includes teaching courses to pre-service teacher candidates in arts integration methods and in special education methods for inclusive classrooms, supporting interns and teachers in the local elementary partnership schools with arts integration methods, mapping arts integration curriculum into the School of Education courses and internships, mentoring pre-service teacher candidates in arts integration research and leadership, and presenting and publishing on arts integration, positive behavior intervention supports, cultural reciprocity, and reading.

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