Posts Tagged ‘VTS’

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Visual Thinking Strategies

July 27, 2018

Waterfall Arts

Every so often I meet educators who are not familiar with Visual Thinking Strategies or VTS as it is commonly called. Waterfall Arts, a community arts center in Belfast, provides a program using VTS. As part of their outreach efforts of the Youth and Family Outreach (YFO) program at Waterfall Arts, program coordinator Bridget Matros offers Visual Thinking Strategies training to teachers in area schools. These strategies are activity used in the YFO after school programs and are also utilized in field trips to Waterfall Arts. Teaching Artist Bridget Matros has put together the information below (taken from the VTS site). Thank you Bridget! She is also on the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist rosterWaterfall Arts programs are comprehensive and they provide multiple programs for learners of all ages.

Many teachers in Maine, visual arts and others, use VTS in their classrooms. Several years ago we provided an all day workshop on the topic. Once reading this blog post, if you’re interested in learning more please contact me at argy.nestor@maine.gov.

What is VTS?

Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) is a method initiated by teacher-facilitated discussions of art images and documented to have a cascading positive effect on both teachers and students. It is perhaps the simplest way in which teachers and schools can provide students with key behaviors sought by Common Core Standards: thinking skills that become habitual and transfer from lesson to lesson, oral and written language literacy, visual literacy, and collaborative interactions among peers.

VTS provides a way to jumpstart a process of learning to think deeply applicable in most subjects from poetry to math, science and social studies. Art is the essential first discussion topic because it enables students to use existing visual and cognitive skills to develop confidence and experience, learning to use what they already know to figure out what they don’t; they are then prepared to explore other complex subject matter alone and with peers.

How does it work?

In VTS discussions teachers support student growth by facilitating discussions of carefully selected works of visual art.

          Teachers are asked to use three open-ended questions:

  • What’s going on in this picture?
  • What do you see that makes you say that?
  • What more can we find?3 Facilitation Techniques:
  • Paraphrase comments neutrally
  • Point at the area being discussed
  • Linking and framing student commentsStudents are asked to:
  • Look carefully at works of art
  • Talk about what they observe
  • Back up their ideas with evidence
  • Listen to and consider the views of others
  • Discuss multiple possible interpretations
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