Book features Lady's Island Elementary School

On Thursday, Lady’s Island Elementary School celebrated landing the cover of a book in a book launch event at the school that included presentation of bound copies of the fifth edition of the just released popular college textbook Creating Meaning through Literature and the Arts.

“There was no contest,” author Claudia Cornett explained. When she visited Lady’s Island Elementary School last winter to update a textbook on arts integration, she spotted a stunning display of art. Visual art teacher Stephanie Riedmayer explained that the self-portraits were the result of a study of artist Jonathan Green. Cornett saw in the exhibit the potential for a book cover.

Thus the work of local third and fourth graders fronts the popular book’s newest cover.creative meaning through literature and the arts book

“The art had all the right elements,” Cornett explained. “It is provocative–it makes the viewer want to keep looking and want to know more. What the kids created is simply beautiful!”

The LIES student art exhibit wasn’t the only thing that impressed Professor Cornett. An initial meeting with principal Marvelle Ulmer and the school’s arts team prompted the author to feature the school in Chapter 2 of the book. According to Dr. Cornett, “LIES has a solid history of working to meaningfully integrate the arts and has repeatedly been recognized for its innovative programing-including the recent Governor’s Award. The LIES story is a poignant example of how creative teaching can turn student achievement around.”

Implemented in hundreds of schools across the United States, arts integration (AI) centers on creative teaching. AI is an instructional approach in which teachers use music, visual art, drama, dance and literature to teach everything from science units on the plants and planets to geometry. Top educators consider AI to be the most significant educational innovation in the past two decades.

Dr. Cornett explains, “AI works because the arts have natural appeal-they engage students cognitively and emotionally. Students become more motivated to do hard high-level thinking when they are challenged to transform learning into a dramatic scene, a song, a piece of art or a dance.”

What exactly is arts integration? Cornett says the definition is the title of her book-creating meaning through literature and the arts. “Of course, kids need to be taught HOW to make sense, how to collect ideas and evidence, to connect the dots and draw informed conclusions. That’s what creative thinking-at the heart of AI-is about.”

Locals can see AI in action daily, throughout the curriculum, at LIES. But the rest of the country can now see it, too. Readers will at least get a glimpse of how to teach using the arts in classroom “snapshots” throughout the new book. The vignettes allow teachers new to AI to be able to step into actual lessons.

“Stephanie Riedmayer, Kristin Brady, Lisa Ten Eyck, Lynda McLain and classroom teachers Jessica Goethie-Bacon and Charlotte Diorio welcomed me into their classrooms for observations. Their creative teaching ideas make the book come alive,” says Claudia Cornett. “That and their photogenic faces!”

Creating Meaning through Literature and the Arts is currently used in dozens of US colleges and in a handful of other countries. Lauded as the “bible” of arts integration, the book is also a favorite for continuing education in events such as the Spoleto Creative Teaching Institute. But the publisher, Pearson, has its sights set even higher. For the first time, the new edition will be available as an e-book, is expected to reach wider audiences across the country and around the world.

Book features Lady's Island Elementary School