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Brain-Compatible Strategies and Lessons That Integrate the Arts

Second Edition

April 2018 | 264 pages | Corwin

Art and science both hinge on discovery, and discovery requires thinking out of the box. But how do you lead students to think creatively in STEM education? The answer is STEAM, and A is for the arts.

STEAM—the integration of music, visual arts, and drama into daily STEM instruction—is proven to enhance student achievement in STEM subjects. After all, creative, real-world problem-solving is what working scientists and mathematicians actually do. But how do busy STEM educators weave arts activities into a sometimes inflexible STEM curriculum? 

In this new edition of From STEM to STEAM, the ground-breaking bestseller, the authors provide lessons from the field to detail the way. Authors David Sousa, expert in educational neuroscience, and Tom Pilecki, veteran arts educator, pool theircombined eighty years of expertise to deliver:

  • Research studies in cognitive and social neuroscience, including new findings on how technology is rewiring students’ brains, that demonstrate how arts activities enhance creativity, problem solving, memory systems, motor coordination, and analytical skills—all critical elements to achieving STEM objectives. 
  • Classroom-tested strategies and techniques for integrating the arts into STEM instruction, including sample K-12 lessons plans and planning templates.
  • Tools for building a professional development program designed to helps arts and STEM teachers collaborate to create STEAM lessons. 
  • Sample planning frameworks that provide a smooth transition from STEM to STEAM, including advice on adapting STEAM to meet the individual needs and limitations of a school or district.
  • A list of resources available to teachers in the STEM subjects, in the arts, in arts integration, and for STEAM.

The main objective of both art and science is discovery. Lead your students to make that connection and STEAM ahead to academic success!

Why a Second Edition?

What’s New?

Looking to the Arts

How This Book Can Help to Implement STEAM

Chapter Contents

Who Should Use This Book?

What’s Coming?

1. Why STEM Should Become STEAM
The Power of the Arts

The Arts and STEM Do Have Differences

What’s Coming?

Major Points to Ponder

2. What Science Says About the Arts and Creativity
Brain Organization

Thinking and Learning

The Arts, STEM, and Creativity

What’s Coming?

Major Points to Ponder

3. Bringing STEAM Into Schools
What Is Arts Integration?

What Is STEAM?

Different Schools and Implementation Formats

Implementing the STEAM Initiative

The Basic District Plan

What We Are Learning

What’s Coming?

Major Points to Ponder

4. Guidelines for Creating a STEAM School
STEAM Guidelines

What’s Coming?

Major Points to Ponder

5. Frequently Asked Questions About Integrating the Arts and STEM
What Are the Arts?

Addressing Some Common Frequently Asked Questions

Arts Perception Worksheet

What’s Coming?

Major Points to Ponder

6. Implementing Arts Integration in the Primary Grades (K–4)
Importance of Movement

Science, Mathematics, and the Arts in the Primary Grades

Ideas for Arts-Integrated Lesson Plans (Primary Grades)

What’s Coming?

Major Points to Ponder

7. Implementing Arts Integration in the Intermediate Grades (5–8)
A Day in the Life of a Middle School Student

Teacher-to-Teacher Collaborations

What’s Coming?

Major Points to Ponder

8. Implementing Arts Integration in the High School Grades (9–12)
STEAM and the Culture of High School

Pushing STEAM Along

Sample Comparisons of Traditional STEM and Arts-Integrated STEAM Lessons

What’s Coming?

Major Points to Ponder

9. Discoveries From the Field
About the Original Appetizers

What’s Coming?

Major Points to Ponder

10. Putting It All Together
Know Your Instructional Intuition

General Guidelines for K–12 Lessons

Sample K–12 Lessons: Examples of Arts-Related Activities in Science Topics

Sample Template for Designing a STEAM Unit Across Grade Levels

Professional Development to Maintain STEAM


Major Points to Ponder

The Appetizers

The Appetizers


From STEM to STEAM is the answer to the failure of STEM education in our schools. No one understands better than David Sousa and Tom Pilecki the importance of the arts—music, the visual arts and drama—in making science, technology, engineering and math come alive for teachers and students. This is true integrated STEAM instruction…and it works. I’ve seen the transformation in our schools.

Our teachers enjoy the freedom to be creative and in turn more effective! Their students are singing and dancing in math and performing live theater in science. They’re remembering more, understanding more, and achieving more. They’re innovating, too, with new ideas and new applications for what they're learning. They love integrated STEAM learning. I could not be more impressed with the change From STEM to STEAM has brought to our schools.

This second edition of From STEM to STEAM contains guidelines for integrating STEAM instruction into the classroom and across the curriculum. It provides the essential guideposts that marked the growth of our teachers as STEAM instructors and our schools as lively, high performing STEAM academies. But think of the guidelines less as targets to be met than as sheet music that brings us back repeatedly to the same melody in a full musical score. Thanks to From STEM to STEAM we’re on key and making great music. 

Daniel J. Ferris, Superintendent of Schools
Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island

This book on STEAM is a call to action by two genuine authorities on a matter of critical importance, for two very different reasons. First, in order to motivate K-12 students, we need to reach them where they are—and little kids are inherently interested in the natural world around them. If we motivate them, they will persist and graduate. And if they are motivated by science, we will ultimate have more college graduates with highly marketable skills in STEM fields—areas of great demand in today’s economy. Second, adding the Arts to STEM to create STEAM acknowledges that the arts and science are linked. As the author of several biology textbooks, I rely on art to convey ideas that are very difficult to explain with language only. STEAM is the wave of the future, so BUY THIS BOOK!”

Donald J. Farish, Ph.D., President
Roger Williams University, Bristol, Rhode Island

From STEM to STEAM has been a tremendous help as teachers and teachers-to-be gear up for providing STEM education to their pupils. This well-conceived and well-done publication was immediately chosen as a text to help course participants to improve their crafts.  From STEM to STEAM provides a necessary layer of STEM education so that that the affective domain is given the importance it deserves. This is a welcome addition to the professional's bookshelf!

Sister Remigia Kushner, Congregation of Saint Joseph, Director, School Leadership Program
Manhattan College, Riverdale, NY

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ISBN: 9781506322452

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