This book offers new ways for classroom teachers to broaden the definition of literacy to include music, dance, poetry, and the visual arts. The authors share what they have learned from incorporating the fine arts into the daily curriculum: how teachers can help students use the fine arts as a bridge to reading and writing, and as valid ways of interpreting the world around them. Drawing on the work of Howard Gardner, Elliot Eisner, and others, this book offers an inspired look at a curriculum where the fine arts are viewed as a "methodology" for helping students interpret what they know and understand. The authors begin by describing their own program: how they set up a learning environment conducive to the fine arts, how they reclaimed poetry as a natural response to learning, how they focused upon drawing for understanding.
Then they explain how, through immersion "workshops," students "get inside the skin" of creative artists and think about the unique ways these people approach learning. Readers will discover how students: use music, dance, and the visual arts to develop multiple perspectives on their learning of science, math, and the language arts experiment with movement to interpret thinking create student operas as a response to story live and work in workshop environments to view learning from the inside out. The book also includes extensive annotated bibliographies of books, CDs, audiotapes, and videotapes that teachers can use in curriculum planning. Although Blecher and Jaffee describe their work in a primary classroom, pre-service and in-service teachers at all levels, particularly elementary and middle school, have much to gain from reading this book. It offers a different perspective on the learning process and encourages readers to look at the curriculum in new ways.