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P21 Arts Skills Map resources

Suggested Action Steps and Resources


In July 2010, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills unveiled the 21st Century Skills Map for the Arts, which demonstrates how the three Rs and four Cs (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration and creativity and innovation) can be fused within arts curriculum.

The map provides educator-created examples of how art subjects (dance, music, theatre, and visual and media arts) can be fused with skills to create engaging learning experiences that promote 21st century knowledge and skill acquisition. In addition to aligning teaching and learning to the demands of today’s world, the map cites specific student outcomes and provides project examples for grades four, eight and 12.

The following material is designed to support the use of the map and is customized with suggested “action steps” for state policymakers, K-12 practitioners and arts advocates. Please use these suggestions and resources provided to utilize the Arts Skills Map effectively and to learn more about infusing 21st century skills within arts curriculum nationwide.

The 21st Century Skills Map in the Arts can be downloaded here: http://www.p21.org/documents/P21_arts_map_final.pdf

In October 2011, P21, Crayola, NAfME and EdLeader21, hosted a series of webinars to provide more hands on information from educators on the benefits of Arts Skills Map as an educator resource.  The webinars were recorded.  The last webinar took place on October 25th.  View it here, then review our suggested action steps below:


Suggested Action Steps


State Policymakers

If you are a state policymaker, consider using the 21st Century Skills Map in the Arts in some of the following ways:

  • Ensure that professional development professionals at the state level are familiar with the map and how it can be used in schools and districts
  • Use the map as a resource in reviewing standards in the Arts
  • Distribute the map broadly to educators throughout the state
  • Engage with arts advocacy organizations about how the map can support arts and 21st century skills development

K-12 Practitioners

If you are a K-12 practitioner, consider the following action steps:

  • Use the map to help design lessons that focus on arts and 21st century skills
  • Share the map with educators in your department and your school
  • Share the map with your students and engage them in a conversation about 21st century skills in the arts
  • Use the map to start a professional learning community in your school focused on 21st century skills and the arts; include educators from diverse disciplines, such as the sciences, mathematics, history, etc.
  • Engage with arts advocacy leaders with the map as a focal point for the conversation –explore opportunities to partner with these community organizations to support use of the map with students

Arts Advocates

If you are an arts advocate, we suggest you take the following steps:

  • Convene a community meeting with fellow advocates, local education leaders and other partners (such as the business community, higher education leaders, museum and library professionals); use the map to help kick-start community-driven partnerships around learning, 21st century skills and the arts.
  • Engage with local educators to offer support for arts and 21st century skills learning opportunities—for teachers, students and parents.



We strongly suggest you utilize the following resources to learn more about arts-infused education.


The Partnership for 21st Century Skills


P21 is a national organization that advocates for 21st century readiness for every student. As the United States continues to compete in a global economy that demands innovation, P21 and its members provide tools and resources to help the U.S. education system keep up by fusing the 3Rs and 4Cs (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation). While leading districts and schools are already doing this, P21 advocates for local, state and federal policies that support this approach for every school.


National Association for Music Education (NAfME)


NAfME, among the world's largest arts education organizations, marked its centennial in 2007 as the only association that addresses all aspects of music education. Through membership of more than 75,000 active, retired, and preservice music teachers, and with 60,000 honor students and supporters, NAfME serves millions of students nationwide through activities at all teaching levels, from preschool to graduate school.


National Art Education Association (NAEA)


Founded in 1947, The National Art Education Association is the leading professional membership organization exclusively for visual arts educators. Members include elementary, middle and high school art teachers, college and university professors and researchers, administrators and supervisors, museum educators and artists as well as more than 45,000 students who are members of the National Art Honor Society or are university students preparing to be art educators.


American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE)


The American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE) is the best and warmest networking organization for theatre artists and educators. We aim to provide opportunities for idea exchange, leadership, creativity, artistry, mentorship, recognition, advocacy and more to those with a vested interest in the field of theatre and education. Whether you are a theatre teacher, youth theatre director, playwright, education director for a theatre, arts integration specialist, theatre scholar, teaching artist, theatre advocate or an individual who finds theatre arts essential in education we are here to provide services and programming that help you advance our field.


Educational Theatre Association (EdTA)


The Educational Theatre Association is a professional organization for theatre educators. In addition to providing professional development, advocacy, and networking support to its members, EdTA operates the International Thespian Society, an honorary organization for high school and middle school theatre students. It publishes Dramatics, a monthly magazine for students and teachers, and Teaching Theatre, a quarterly journal for theatre education professionals. EdTA’s annual Thespian Festival is the premiere showcase for high school theatre, drawing students and teachers from throughout the United States and abroad.


National Dance Alliance (NDA)


NDA made its official debut in 1976! We are proud to have served many generations of dancers around the world. We move forward each year with innovation and passion for dancers as well as Coaches/Directors. Our commitment to the development of excellence is recognized as we teach leadership, technique and teamwork. These core principles are the fundamentals necessary for each young dancer to act with integrity, inspire excellence in others, and become the leaders of tomorrow


National Dance Education Organization (NDEO)


The National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement and promotion of high quality education in the art of dance. NDEO provides the dance artist, educator and administrator a network of resources and support, a base for advocacy, and access to programs that focus on the importance of dance in the human experience.


Arts-Infused Education Resources

Arts Education Partnership. (2011). What School Leaders Can Do to Increase Arts Education. Washington, DC.

This brochure from the Arts Education Partnership offers recommendations for establishing a school-wide commitment to arts learning, creating an arts-rich learning environment and rethinking the use of time and resources. http://www.aep-arts.org/files/publications/AEP_Principals-brochure-final.pdf


Catterall, James S. (2009). Doing Well and Doing Good by Doing Art: The Effects of Education in the Visual and Performing Arts on the Achievements and Values of Young Adults. Los Angeles: Imagination Group I-Group Books.

Significant longitudinal data show support for benefits of arts education. Findings from two studies done by Catterall and colleagues from the National Educational Longitudinal Survey in the late 1990s and 2009 strongly connect arts learning with both academic success and pro-social outcomes.


The Conference Board, Partnership for 21st Century Skills, Corporate Voices for Working Families, & Society for Human Resource Management. (2006). Are They Really Ready to Work? Employers' Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied Skills of New Entrants to the 21st Century U.S. Workforce.

This study provides the corporate perspective of skills that are increasing in demand in the workforce. Creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration are high on the list. http://www.p21.org/documents/FINAL_REPORT_PDF09-29-06.pdf


Crayola Video: Arts-Infused Education

This video, produced by Crayola, focuses on arts-infused advocacy that was created in tandem with P21, NAESP and NAEA. http://cdn.crayola.com/educators/NAESP/media/downloads/Advocacy/Crayola-Advocacy-Video.wmv


Davis, Jessica Hoffman. (2007). Why Our Schools Need the Arts. New York: Teachers College Press.

Davis makes a powerful case for why the arts are essential to every child’s education. She offers educators and advocates evidence in support of arts education programs and helps advocates make a persuasive case.


Eisner, Elliot W. (2002). The Arts and the Creation of Mind. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Eisner presents arguments for the inclusion of the arts as a core element of the curriculum. He addresses both assessment and evaluation in the arts, and proposes a shift from the evaluation of outcomes to the evaluation of process.


Jensen, Eric. (2001). Arts with the Brain in Mind. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Each of the four arts disciplines promote brain development. Jensen provides a neurobiological case for why the arts should be taught in schools and practical suggestions for educators to use to improve students’ academic achievement.


National Art Education Association. (2009). Learning in a Visual Age: The Critical Importance of Arts Education. Reston, VA.

This guide examines the evidence about the capacities that art education develops in students and what it can prepare them to do. It explores what high-quality instruction looks like and takes a look at some environments in schools and in other settings in which excellent visual arts instruction takes place. http://www.arteducators.org/learning/learning-in-a-visual-age/NAEA_LVA_09.pdf


National Art Education Association. (2011). The Visual Arts: So Much More Than What You See… . Reston, VA: Author.

This guide offers three concrete actions school principals can take to increase arts education in their schools: establish a school-wide commitment to arts learning, create an arts-rich learning environment, and rethink the use of time and resources. http://www.arteducators.org/advocacy/ARTS_ED_e-FLYER_3.pdf


National Association of Elementary School Principals. (September/October 2011). Principal Magazine: Champion Creatively Alive Children Supplement.

This special supplement profiles best practices in arts-infused education throughout the country. It provides insights for becoming “art smart,” turning ideas into practice and bringing creativity into schools, whether in four minutes, four weeks or four years. http://www.Crayola.com/creativelyalive


Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2010). 21st Century Skills Arts Map.

This map illustrates the intersection between 21st century skills and the arts. The maps will enable educators, administrators and policymakers to gain concrete examples of how 21st century skills can be integrated into core subjects. http://www.p21.org/documents/P21_arts_map_final.pdf


Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2011). P21 Common Core Toolkit: A Guide to Aligning the Common Core State Standards with the Framework for 21st Century Skills.

This toolkit is designed for state and district leaders who are interested in implementing the Common Core standards in ways that strengthen the 4Cs. http://www.p21.org/images/p21_toolkit_final.pdf


President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. (2011). Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future through Creative Schools. Washington, DC.: Author.

This is the most comprehensive report on the state of arts education in schools published in a decade. It reviews research, literature, promising practices and state initiatives—making a case for why the arts are “a wrench to fix schools” not just a “flower to beautify” them. The report presents recommended action steps for policy makers, educators and the private sector. The resource appendix is a treasure trove of studies and model arts programs that will connect readers to additional insights. http://www.pcah.gov/sites/default/files/photos/PCAH_Reinvesting_4web.pdf


Robinson, Ken. (2001). Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative. Oxford: Capstone Publishing.

Robinson gives historical perspective on the evolution of what education values. He makes a strong case for understanding the archaic nature of the Intelligence Quotient that fails to consider each person’s unique gifts. Robinson argues for radical changes in education to meet the challenges of living and working in the 21st century. His focus is on the need for creativity.


Trilling, Bernie, & Fadel, Charles. (2009). 21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

What skills do students need in the 21st century to meet today's challenges and be successful? Educators are urged to build students’ 4 Cs and change pedagogy to prepare students for the fast-changing global economy.