Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis


Elementary Education (K-6)


In the fall of 20 14, I began student teaching at Wallace School of Integrated Arts in Kokomo, Indiana. Under the guidance of my cooperating teacher, Lashaya Williams, and our co-teacher, Abigail McClure, I was given the chance to educate fifth grade students and further develop my personal understanding of authentic arts integration (AAI), which is defined by the Kennedy Center as follows: "Arts Integration is an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Students engage in a creative process which connects an art form and another subject area and meets evolving objectives in both." The thesis topic I have selected was born from my desire to connect my experiences in the teaching profession with my background in theatre arts. It was my hope that, in using my past theatrical experiences as a source of inspiration, my instruction would ultimately support both my students' education as well as the nature of AAI.

In today's elementary schools, it is not uncommon for teaching artists or traveling acting troupes to visit a school and perform for the students. During these shows, the typical expectation for the children is to simply observe as the actors do all of the work. While there are many aspects to be admired about the quick "show-and-go" mentality of these programs= such as the exposure to live artistic works and connection to real-world professionals--, I could not help but ponder the numerous possibilities one could encounter by going beyond the normal "audience see, actor do" mentality and allow for audience-actor interaction. Or, taking it a step further, what could be the result of students and professional actors collaborating together to create and perform a content-based theatrical piece?

Pulling from my personal experiences in theatre, I decided to investigate these inquiries in the fall of my student teaching by establishing a partnership between my fifth grade students and the actors of the Butler University Theatre Department. It was my belief that these two entities could learn a great deal from one another, and I felt as though valuable research could be obtained from their collaboration as they created a work of theatre based on academic content and enriched with professional theatre practices. Thus, I propose the following thesis question: What is the process and impact of having professional actors and fifth graders create and perform a content-rich theatrical piece?