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Renaissance in the Classroom: Arts Integration and Meaningful Learning.

Gail Burnaford, Arnold Aprill, & Cynthia Weiss (Eds.). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2001. 256 pp. $29.95. The preface says this is a "book about renewal ... intended to provide a means for looking at how children learn through exploration that incorporates the arts." It is also a book of inspiration and affirmation.

The three editors have been intimately involved with the good works of the Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE). As teacher educator, executive director, and director of professional development, respectively, each has had extensive personal experience in various forms of the arts. Nearly 300 people have contributed to this lively guide to CAPE's multifaceted activities through interviews, writing, photographs, illustrative units, and lesson plans. The six chapters and dozen appendices provide perspectives about how the arts (visual, theater, musical, dance, and multimedia) can be integrated into ongoing school curricula to provide a deepening of learning in schools from kindergarten through grade 12.

For me, Chapter Four is particularly powerful, detailing various innovative approaches to assessment. The CAPE participants are well aware of the need to attend to the widespread concern about children's academic achievement. In a time when "standards" are being given narrow, simplistic interpretations gauged primarily by pen-and-pencil tests, however, we are offered broader views of the possibilities to be gained from "sitting beside" learners to see how they can be helped to develop understanding. Chapter Six outlines numerous forms of collaboration that extend the self-contained classroom.

Throughout the book are many concrete illustrations of ways artists and classroom teachers have successfully worked together. Arts integration "snapshots" are enlivened with a number of black-and-white photographs and diagrams; an insert of 30 color photos provides further on-the-scene backup examples. The attention paid to inclusion of cultural relevance and multiple intelligence theory is well evident. The helpful array of appendices includes a list of funding sources, sample projects, scope-and-sequence charts, assessment instruments, a selective bibliography, Web sites, a state arts agency directory--and more!

In sum, this is a very useful addition to the professional library of classroom teachers, arts specialists, and educational policymakers. Reviewed by Monroe D. Cohen, former (1969-78) editor of Childhood Education, and, most recently, Director of the Queens College Children's Program, Sunnyside, NY
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Author:Cohen, Monroe D.
Publication:Childhood Education
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Aug 6, 2002
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