Teachers Connect
Jul 12, 2018

Plans for the Future

Throughout the week, we’ve brainstormed ideas for adapting and applying what you have learned for use with your students. Select one idea and expand on how you would use it in your classroom. Describe what you want your students to learn and how you’ll know that they learned it!

50 Responses to Plans for the Future

  1. Camila Salvatierra-Sinn says:

    I am excited to refresh how I teach students to critique art works. Usually, I teach students Feldman’s Model of Art Criticism, which is extremely dry for middle school students who do not want to write or anything in art class. I believe that VTS could reach my student’s interest with a deeper conversation and connection from peers for each art work they VTS. I can;t wait!

    • Louise Snyder says:

      Camila – I agree that VTS is a great alternative to written responses. I think students do indeed tire sometimes of writing on their own as an observation and/or reflection tool. VTS offers so much in terms of opportunity for students to spark ideas in one another and motivate each other.

    • Rosemary Fessinger says:

      VTS would be a refreshing add-on. Don’t abandon Feldman’s…just change it up to keep it interesting.

  2. Peju Okungbowa says:

    I am confident that my weekly art lessons will be more instructive and engaging for my students as a result of this institute. I learned a lot about what was explicitly taught about VTS, writing, looking closely at art, types of paper, paper engineering, etc. I also learned from the implicit practice of preparing the materials before the class. It showed preparedness, order and organization. This has been lacking in my art lessons. I will facilitate VTS in my language, art, science and social studies’ lessons. I will also encourage my students to write their own math poems – I loved that activity!
    I plan to start a book art club with my students in September. Will share pictures of the exciting things my students and I will create.

    Thanks to all the facilitators and co – participants for making this a wonderful experience for me.

    • Louise Snyder says:

      Peju – You make such a good point about the importance of good preparation. This is a necessary point of focus for me, too. Thank you for this reminder!

    • Rosemary Fessinger says:

      I’ll think of you every time I just my new handbag! And, I know the NMWA educators (Deborah, Addie, and Ashley) will pass on all of the photos that you share!

  3. Jen Clontz says:

    I would like to expand upon our practice with VTS and see how it can be tweaked to work with band or orchestra classes. In conversations this week, I realize that there will be limitations to VTS in music. The listening versus viewing component will be a challenge, but by dividing the musical selection into chunks we can focus more directly on a smaller portion instead of an entire work. In order to provide students with something to “see”, I can distribute the sheet music for their instrument. Even though not all parts are the same, it will be important for each instrument to understand how their part fits in with those around them in the end. This will hopefully facilitate that process!

    • Rosemary Fessinger says:

      In interested in ways that you embed VTS into your rehearsals. I know that possibilities exist in the middle school music classroom!

      • Dara Case says:

        You can do this activity easily with sheet music as well as with listening. The composer’s use of elements will appear and students already read what’s in front of them. It’s great to get them talking about what they are reading and predicting what it will sound like, but it’s also interesting once they know the piece, to decide if the composer’s markings are always the right ones! It makes for fascinating discussion when they WANT to try something other than what the composer has indicated!

  4. Liz says:

    I am excited to use the VTS with students to introduce a variety of topics in social studies and math. Photographs of immigration, western landscapes and art work from the Harlem Renaissance have been staples in our classroom conversations, but I feel like using the VTS format will enrich the conversations. When it comes to math and we analyze graphs, I think it will be beneficial as well. I’m hoping all this rich language will encourage students to expand more of their ideas through text as well using this VTS as a scaffold for adding ideas.

    • Louise Snyder says:

      Liz – I am impressed by the variety of subject areas in which you’re planning to incorporate VTS. I especially appreciate the idea of using VTS in evaluating graphs in math. I can see how this would allow students to practice their use of academic language and encourage deeper consideration of the data represented.

    • Natasha says:

      I agree. I think VTS will be great to use as an opener at the beginning of a social studies or science unit.

    • Rosemary Fessinger says:

      VTS will provide insights into your students mathematical thinking while encouraging oral language development (in math).

  5. Louise Snyder says:

    I am excited about the many possible applications of bookmaking to existing requirements in my 4th grade curriculum. One specific example is the requirement of a personal narrative. I would like to have students publish their narratives in the Self-Portrait Book format that we learned. My goal is to offer all students the opportunity to add an aesthetic element to their narratives and hopefully add an opportunity for success for students who struggle with the writing portion of the assignment.
    I would also like to incorporate the Flag Book format in the Contributing Virginian/ Biographical Essay project that the students complete each spring. The students already follow a rubric that specifies a number of required pieces of information with options for additional pieces. The required pieces could be assigned to particular flags, and some flags could be reserved for student-chosen information. I appreciate the combination of framework and flexibility inherent in the flag format!

    • Rosemary Fessinger says:

      Several years ago, we made accordion books and we traced our hands for the front/back cover. The inside pages were accordion folds. Participants wrote rough drafts (narratives) in their journals, revised, and published them in the accordion books. We called them Hand Stories! Denise introduced henna patterns for decorating the covers…but you could do just about anything!

  6. Kay Hones says:

    I will share VTS strategies with our staff esp. Working with students in our African/African American culture program to examine and research art,music,drama and dance.
    I am especially interested in the zen scrolling lesson. Our students have many challenges and trauma experiences and during this last year classes have included a variety of mindfulness activities. Zen scrolling seems like a logical,creative activity to add to classroom strategies. I am eager to discuss this with our admin and staff.

  7. Sonya Braddock says:

    This week has been packed with many research-based teaching strategies that I will utilize and share with my colleagues. I have particularly been engrossed with VTS and plan to continue reading about it. However, I would like to initially focus on incorporating more art within my lessons. Art is accessible for all students and can serve as a starting point for engaging students. I plan to expose students to a variety of artists’ works, while also paying close attention to the artists’ styles and inviting the students to interpret the works. Students would then be invited to create self- portraits and accompany the pieces with writings about their lives. Students would share their works with peers and receive feedback. My overall goal and purpose would be to create a community of curious learners who actively listen to others and can articulate their thoughts. Within this process, students should increase their vocabularies, improve their writing skills, understand that art can be connected to all content areas and improve their speaking skills. I will know that my students have learned these skills through my observations, conversations with students and after evaluating their writing.

    • Rosemary Fessinger says:

      While it’s tempting to dive in, it makes sense to start small and expand as students learn new routines and protocols. And self-portraits are a good place to start. They could draw their self-portraits on the outside of the folded book, then write autobiographical poems inside.

  8. Natasha says:

    I like the idea of equating Close Reading and VTS. For my students, close reading is difficult for them and many do not understand the purpose. VTS will allow my students to use similar technique to analyze a concrete object (scaffolding). The skill can then be extrapolated to use for close reading and developing a greater appreciation of the process.

    • Rosemary Fessinger says:

      Using VTS to enhance comprehension is an effective practice. Over time, you’ll be amazed at your students’ observations. You’ll enjoy sitting back and watching the process!

  9. Payal Arora says:

    I feel so grateful that I was able to attend the workshop. I am eagerly looking forward to utilizing the multiple strategies that I have learned during the course of the week with my students. I plan to introduce the book making technique as a hook to encourage them to write narratives, poems, quick notes which is challenge for them due to a variety of reasons (fine motor, processing skills, motivation – “No, no writing today, it takes too long”, I often hear my students say). I also plan to use the VTS routine in the morning during the morning content area block as either the language arts, math, science, social studies theme for the week/day, so that the students can start their day by practicing their observation and critical thinking skills. Additionally, I am planning to use Zen-tangles as ‘brain breaks’ and as a morning arrival routine and a closing routine before dismissal.

    • Rosemary Fessinger says:

      Writing IS hard work…but your students’ skills will improve with practice. You know it, and they know it, too! And, I like the idea of Zentangle brain-breaks. I know it was a stressful week; I’m glad that you joined us!

    • Natasha says:

      That’s a great idea to use Zentangle for ‘brain breaks.’ That’s an idea I’d like to share with colleagues.

    • Keith Pieschek says:

      I agree with you that putting book building with writing is a great way to start students on writing. When students have the covers and designs of the book, such as the the rubberband book or self-portrait book, they will be ready to put writing in their book. Students can also put writing. There so many possibilities.

  10. Megan Leong says:

    I have some ideas about how I would like to use art books, but since we’re presenting that, I’ll write here about how I think VTS will work in my classroom. I teach math and our first unit is on scaled copies. I am thinking of introducing pure VTS with art of cityscapes, buildings, large works or spiders like the Louise Bourgeois we saw today (scale copies) to engage students and have the practice the VTS routine and the art of looking and sharing out. Eventually, I think we could also adapt the VTS questioning sequence to help us look both at math word problems and diagram problems. These are things that students have an especially hard time with because of the detail included and required. I think by using VTS to learn the art of observing something and breaking it down, students will be engaged and more successful in math

    • Rosemary Fessinger says:

      Word problems can be difficult; the language is dense and the vocabulary is difficult. VTS would help students talk about the text…and you’d gain insights into their mathematical thinking!

  11. Harlan Kinzer says:

    Prior to today I would also have commented on VTS, but I found Zentangle to be life changing.

    The current focus in my district is on socio-emotional learning. Zentangle seems to provide students with a way to get in touch with their inner feelings and calm down. It is a way to re-center without feeling that punitive action has been taken.

    I would use it in my classroom to complement the work my school is doing to transform school culture. In particular we have done work around Responsive Classroom’s “Break Time”, Conscious Discipline’s Breathing Techniques, and Second Step’s “Stop, Name Your Feeling, Calm Down”. I would use it in my Break Time nook, which students can elect to visit when seeking solitude from moments of frustration and/or anger. Students could also use it before or after using a breathing technique or during the “stop” step of “Stop, Name Your Feeling, Calm Down”.

    I also want my students to learn that it is okay to take a break and that everyone needs to re-center from time to time. I also want them to learn ways to manage their emotions and know that there are tools and strategies like Zentangle that can help them do so. I will know that students are managing their emotions when they are advocating for themselves and voice they need a break and want to make a Zentangle creation.

  12. Rosemary Fessinger says:

    Here’s a website where you’ll find additional information:


    Denise will gladly share more ideas…ways that you can use tangling to help students manage stress and challenging situations.

  13. Caryn Michael says:

    The writing exercises really struck a cord with me. Using art auto inspire poetry or using math to inspire poems and artworks. The quick writes were great too especially as transistions.
    I want my students to pracice Some of the quick write exercises as we transition from project to project as a way to refresh the memory and sum up the experience in a different way. I want them to learn the power of calmly warming yourself up and calmly reflecting. On your process. Their writing samples and peer group discussions will the be evidence of where it is successful.
    Thank you Rosemary for teaching me some different writing processes. They were my biggest worry coming to the institute but I have enjoyed them. And look forward to using them in my art studio.

    • Rosemary Fessinger says:

      Yea! I appreciation the affirmation! Thankfully, most of the genres we explored were easy to integrate in the art classroom. And including these consistent, target writing sessions will support your students ability to reflect and express themselves. Loved the bunny stories!

  14. Keith Pieschek says:

    While I know I will be finding ways to use the various books we have learned, I am fascinated by the VTS procedure and how it can play out with my middle school students. I have thought about and considered how I can use this through two different methods. In method one, it would great as we have done it, with artwork. Luckily, many elements of art also apply to elements of a story. After applying VTS to the artwork, I can continue with lessons on elements of a story including parts of plot and theme and always referring back to the artwork which students will already have a relationship with. I will know they have learned the parts of a story through their comments and if they can apply the elements to a story in text. Another way I can use VTS is with passages from a text, fiction or nonfiction. While displaying the text passage, students can explain what is going on in the text and provide evidence in what they see in the text to make them say that. This can be a great introduction before reading the full text and gives students familiarity with the longer, full text. It can apply to author’s purpose, audience, word choices, or text organization. Lastly, VTS fully applies to the RELA standards for listening and speaking. Using the right artwork or text passage, it can also apply to many other standards for reading and writing as well.

    • Rosemary Fessinger says:

      Don’t you think that VTS is a game-changer? As soon as students learn the routine, they’ll take more responsibility for their learning. And I agree… I live in a state where oral language development is a problem; VTS helps to build those important critical speaking skills!

  15. Timothy Herzet says:

    VTS as a concept was completely new to me, but I realized that I had been using aspects such as questioning and probing students. Although I do think I was often leading my students more than I should have. After seeing VTS in action and receiving coaching, I hope to be better able to be cognizant of my unconscious bias and be more neutral in my line of questioning to allow my students to come to their own conclusions without me leading them. This will be easier said than done in many instances for me as my current students are majority autistic and it can be a challenge for me to get them to speak at all or when they do speak to stay on topic. I think that the model will be challenging for them at first, but once they realize that there is no wrong answer, they will be more receptive and also more interested in exploring artworks. I think I will know that they have truly mastered it when they can come up with their own perspectives with little to no prompting questions from me.

    • Rosemary Fessinger says:

      The VTS model may be comforting for students with autism…it’s a simple protocol in which students might find comfort and security (i.e., the rules never change). And the aspect of ‘no wrong answer’ also encourages speculation.

  16. Laura K says:

    I am so excited to try out the VTS model in various kinds of lessons. Most of my kindergarten students are ELLs, so I think VTS will be an especially valuable tool for developing oral English skills. I want to use the VTS sequence to introduce new topics. For example, if we are about to start a unit about the rainforest, I want to show a projected photograph of a rainforest, ideally flora and fauna, and then go through the VTS procedure with students.

    • Rosemary Fessinger says:

      Using VTS to introduce a unit is a good hook! I’m sure you can think of other ways to use the rainforest image, too (vocabulary development, etc.). Kindergarten students will love it!

  17. Keith Pieschek says:

    Like you, I was really impressed with the calming and focused effects of ZenTangle. When students can get focused, then they will be ready to learn and ZenTangle can be a great way to get students there. Also, ZenTangle is a great segway to get students into the elements of Visual Arts such as lines, shape, form, space. These are often focused on in Arts Integration lessons in any content as well.

  18. Dara Case says:

    I am curious to see how to incorporate pop-up books into a research project I do with students that involves nominating a song for Mrs. Case’s iPod. I am now thinking that a concertina book would be a good choice for that…and also, if planned properly, a concertina could be filled/refilled frequently to be a little more environmentally friendly

    • Rosemary Fessinger says:

      I think the key is to choose the learning event, then plan the activities needed to meet the instructional goal. That’s exactly what you ended up doing. One o these days, you’ll find just the right use for the pop-up book format!

    • Sophie says:

      That project to nominate a song for Ms Case’s iPod sounds so fun!

  19. Deborah Rice says:

    So far, I plan on using what I’ve learned with our student Green Team. The teacher sponsors have been pondering what we can do with the students in our after-school meetings. We can have the students make nature journals and on our quarterly walks to the Potomac, they can note their observations. We could also use VTS with them while we are observing natural interactions in the school’s monarch way station or in videos, paintings, or photographs.

    • Rosemary Fessinger says:

      Your students are going to eat up those nature journals! With VTS, they’ll see the Potomac in a new way!

  20. Rachel says:

    There are so many things I would love to incorporate into my classroom, but what first comes to mind for me is using the VTS technique to explore and discuss images. I particularly like this technique for my group of students because it encourages them to look closely for detail in pictures and to give evidence for the conclusions they have come to. My students tend to struggle with expanding their ideas, both orally and in writing, so I would like to regularly incorporate VTS discussions in our work to develop their abilities to elaborate. I hope to incorporate the VTS discussions in two specific ways: morning messages and with pre-reading activities. With morning messages, I hope to have students simply look at an image of any kind (even current events related photographs) and to identify 1-2 things that are going on in the picture, and to provide evidence of what makes them draw that conclusion. I think this would help them to get in the habit of using description in their responses during discussions and in their written work. I also would like to do a similar practice when we are doing a picture-walk (looking at illustrations before reading a book) to make predictions about what will happen in a story. I believe including the VTS techniques into our reading routine will help to develop their ability to make connections between the illustrations and the events of a story and resultantly deepen both their higher level and lower level comprehension of a story.

  21. Virginia Bute-Riley says:

    One idea that I’d like to incorporate into my classroom is daily, or at least more frequent, Gallery Walks. I have only done gallery walks toward the end of a project when students were done or very near finished with their work. For more day to day peer feedback we used different turn and talk techniques. I think I like the idea of a gallery walk because it will get students thinking about presenting their work and also let students gave a chance to see what many others are working on at various stages of a project. The written feedback that they leave for each other will provide evidence of their ability to use vocabulary, understand concepts, and analyze art. Their responses could also show their social development regarding empathy and respect.

  22. Sophie says:

    There are a lot of activities this week that I’m excited to work into my teaching, but mostly I am excited to introduce kindergarteners to VTS. It will strengthen their oral language, critical thinking and will support our community building. I am excited to practice selecting the right image so that the discussion that happens serves as a transition into a new unit or a way to deepen their understanding of content. And at the same time, I’d be exposing them to works of art and building their background knowledge. I love the idea of using VTS as an assessment tool. I frequently take anecdotal notes or transcribe student conversations as a form of assessment. Because VTS has just 3 simple questions, I can easily make a form where I can write students verbal responses to those questions.

    • Sophie says:

      To continue that thought — once I have their answers written down, I would analyze their responses to notice students level of understanding, their use of vocabulary, as well as a way to notice who is speaking up a lot and whose voice is not being heard.

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