Teachers Connect
Jul 19, 2016


Challenges to beliefs, attitudes, or long held assumptions may be part of the Visual Thinking Strategies learning experience.   Will you have to make changes in your teaching style? How might the VTS approach provide experiences that may transform student attitudes toward their work in the classroom?

31 Responses to CHALLENGES

  1. Adrienne says:

    Yes, I’ll have to scale back on the number of images I show students and will need to practice my VTS dialogue. All doable. I hope to incorporate these strategies occasionally, balancing them with what I already do.

    • Amy says:

      I agree with Adrienne, a limited viewing of works will definitely help allow for more in depth examination of the work. While there is a benefit to seeing the range of an artist’s body of work in I do feel using the VTS process to focus on understanding with my middle school will often be a better use of time.

  2. Adrienne says:

    In addition, as my students become more familiar with visual literacy thru VTS, I’m hoping they will develop their ability to reflect on their own artwork as well as their peers.

  3. April says:

    I will have to think more about the process and questioning, however with practice I think it will become more natural. Allowing kids time to think first and observe to really take in artwork will be new. The VTS approach will provide opportunities for students to engage in art created by others through rich discussion, therefore giving them inspiration for creating their own artwork, taking ownership of their pieces and wanting to do a great job and put forth maximum effort. Perhaps they will take time to really think about how to convey their message through media, while keeping in mind that art provides room for many interpretations.

  4. Sally says:

    The VTS Strategy that I learned today will definitely make changes in my teaching style, and not only when working with visual images. It really held a mirror up to how often I “shape” student responses into what I want to hear, and how I often do not take the time to truly listen to their words. Too often, I wait until I get the response that I need so I can go off on the tangent I had already planned. Needless to say, I will be working on my listening skills. I think that the students’ attitudes will be transformed because it will allow them to create group meaning, rather than competing for the “right” answer. It will create a collaborative, rather than competitive classroom.

    • Jackie says:

      I agree with you Sally. I think that implementing VTS in my classroom will be beneficial to the classroom culture. The conversations will become student discussions rather than teacher led Q & A.

  5. Carmela La Gamba Bode says:

    I agree with Sally that I didn’t realize
    how much I was guiding the discussion of artworks towards the concepts I wanted to cover.
    I will begin to incorporate this method with my fifth grade classes in September as a starting point.
    and optimistic that students will see the connection between their evidence-based writing and VTS. “The picture is the text” will be this year’s mantra.

  6. Elodie Domenge says:

    I think the VTS approach will be useful for me when presenting new picture books to read to my youngest students. One challenge is for me to slow down, and take the time to actively listen to what they are saying, instead of rushing through the reading.

    *Also, the book I mentioned that explains the Whole Book Approach is titled “Reading Picture Books with Children: How to Shake up Storytime and Get Kids Talking About What They See” by Megan Dowd Lambert.

    • Margaret says:

      Elodie –

      Wait time is something I will have to work on as well and I can completely relate. However, I really think this was something that you were very successful at in our VTS small groups today. Thank you for the book recommendations!


    • Erin says:

      Elodie, I love the idea of using the VTS approach with picture books/read alouds as well.

      Thank you for the book recommendation – I will check it out!

  7. Jackie says:

    VTS will be a strategy I will use when I introduce works of art to my class. I will work on paraphrasing what they say and remaining neutral when doing so.
    In the past, I’ve used see/think/wonder. One way I’ve implemented this is by writing each sentence started on a piece of chart paper. The charts are passed around and then we reflect as a class about our “noticings.”

    • April says:

      The paraphrasing part seems to be the part that I will have to work on most. But, I think it may be a very different experience with the students vs paraphrasing adults during our sessions this week.

  8. Margaret says:

    Learning about VTS I realize that the emphasis of my art room has been on making art without looking at much art. I think a great part of that is even as an adult artist beyond having personal connections to art work, I myself was not aware of the habits of mind necessary for viewing and discussing art. Most importantly I’ve realized how enriching it is to view a piece of artwork facilitated (but not guided) by an educator and within the context of a group. I’m looking forward to seeing how my class’ experience of VTS changes their attitude about the work they create and am excited to learn alongside them how to take time to really look at art.

    • Adrienne says:

      I’m also interested in seeing if/how my students approach to “looking” will deepen and grow. I’d love for them to find value (even if it’s hard for them to articulate this) in slowly and deliberately investigating a single peice of art. What a contradiction that would be in their fast paced lives.

  9. Jessica says:

    I think many of my students will enjoy the opportunity to share their point-of-view about an artwork. I like the concept that this strategy will help increase their thinking skills.

    For myself, I need to have the question stems posted nearby so that I can refer to them as needed. I may be a better facilitator if I could jot notes while the student is speaking. (?)

    • Judith says:

      I agree that VTS will increase students’ thinking skills and across all content areas. I can see how it is connected to the STEM and Mathematical practices.

      • Sandy says:

        Yes, Judith, I agree. I can easily see how the VTS approach can help in other content areas as well. I love how in using VTS the students can have fun looking at and discussing artwork, and, all the while, their critical thinking skills are being developed. But don’t tell them that, I think, that might turn them off to the experience.

    • Sandy says:

      I laughed a bit when I read your first sentence, Jessica, and thought of my students. Many of them, I believe, would love to share their interpretation of a piece of art. The challenge I foresee will be for them to be willing and open to listening and considering the interpretations of their classmates.

  10. Lisa says:

    I think that the VTS strategies might change my teaching style in that I might take a more neutral stance when discussing artwork. Engaging with work without looking for any right or wrong answer has made me think about art in a new way.
    I think my students, young though they might be, could understand in an abstract way that art is subjective and can be interpreted many different ways. And this learning could carry into their own work.

    • Sally says:

      Lisa, in may case taking a neutral stance will be easier said than done! I fear that I can be neutral about students’ comments but not about the artworks themselves. When I have something I really want my students to see, I may not be able to hide my enthusiasm!

  11. Judith says:

    The VTS process will help me develop my paraphrasing skills. I know that listening, being succinct and neutral will be my focus. I like how VTS can be used with primary sources not just art works.

  12. Sandy says:

    I apologize for the lateness of the hour. I was doing other homework and forgot about the time factor with this assignment.
    I will respond to the second question first. It seems to me from my experiences so far as a student participant in the VTS approach that if students will truly observe, listen to others’ comments, and then allow those observations and comments to mix with their own ideas, their attitudes to their work cannot help but develop. It also seems to me that an essential ingredient for this recipe to be successful is the willingness of each student to be open to whatever might happen, including change.
    As for the first question, I’m a bit confused by it. Will I have to make changes in my teaching style – in response to what? If I want to use VTS, certainly, I will need to change how I teach since I will use the procedures outlined in the approach. If I am using VTS and someone’s beliefs, etc. are being challenged, would I have to change my teaching style? I would use the suggestions for handling such situations that are described in the articles we read for class, at least, and perhaps, I would research additional possible responses for future use on the Web site for VTS. Would knowing and/or using VTS change my teaching style when not using the approach? I believe yes, because the approach makes me more aware of my listening skills, vocabulary usage, and possible preferential responses to students.

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      Changes in teaching style was in reference to the previous sentence. Several teachers mentioned “shaping student responses into what we want to hear” as part of their style of teaching. It would be my hope that changing that characteristic of teaching style into one of VTS active listening would not only happen in viewing works of art, but also in other subject areas. Hence, a change in style.Hope this helps.

  13. Julie says:

    I often just repeat what they’ve said to make sure everyone heard the statement but I see the value in paraphrasing and also linking their ideas which I want to become better at during discussions. I also see myself using VTS when introducing anything new to my class at the stage where I want to hear their ideas, thoughts and theories, being fully present in this step where I only fascilitate and don’t feel the need to explain or give ideas.

  14. Michelle says:

    VTS will provide my students an opportunity to meaningfully engage with each other and artwork without feeling judged. I can also use it to connect to RLA skills and by extension, a rise in SOL scores.

    • Amy says:

      I have been thinking about this. The Social Studies teacher and I have often connected for work on DBQ’s (document based questions). There are a often comics, photographs and other forms of art that the students need to be able to ‘read’ and then respond to the question. I am looking forward to sharing this learning with him for the potential collaboration and ideally improvement in student scores across multiple disciplines.

  15. Erin says:

    I will definitely have to practice the VTS approach in order to make sure I am really listening to my students and effectively paraphrasing what they say. Making sure I stay neutral and not comment on what students say will also require some practice. I think the VTS approach will hopefully help my students’ critical thinking skills grow as they look closely and back up their ideas with evidence. I really like how open-ended the VTS approach is to all learners, and how each person’s ideas are valued.

    • Sally says:

      Erin, I can see your first-graders really developing their critical thinking schools this fall! It gives me hope to see teachers committed to using this approach in the lower grades, you are growing their young minds!

  16. Gail says:

    What I like about VTS that I think my students will like is that there are no wrong answers. Their perceptions and opinions are valid and matter…. as long as they can back up what they’re saying. The challenge for me is to know my lines verbatim, as the wording is intentional, and to really listen to what my students are saying so I can properly paraphrase,

  17. Madeleine says:

    as a veteran of a not official or outdated version of VTS, knowing the lines comes easily after awhile of doing it. Though I have to now remember the correct or updated questions and not stumble on what i am use to.

  18. Jinny Choi says:

    I think VTS will be very useful in the classroom. One way I can use it is when we look at photographs or other primary resources for social studies. Many times we only briefly talk about the photos in the book but now I can see how important it is to explore the visuals and how much information and analyzation student can get from simply thinking about a picture. I am excited to use VTS in the classroom. I think the challenge will be to use it with a larger group of students. I am thinking perhaps, I will use it more in small groups.

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