Join Philip Yenawine for an in-depth discussion in this video VTS results, part of Visual Thinking Strategies.
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- One of the first things that teachers will tell us, once they've started using VTS in their classroom, is that everybody participates, and they're delighted by that, because there are quite often kids who hang back, and there are kids who assert themselves, and the right answer kids always have their hands in the air, and others can often be eclipsed in through the process. Sometimes it's because they're not as fast. Sometimes it's because they're bored. Sometimes it's because they don't know the answers. But what happens in these classes, in this open-ended strategy and with an image as the starting point for the discussion, is that all of a sudden the right answer kids think, uh, uh, is there a right answer here? Meanwhile, the kids who have not necessarily always known the right answers have lots of ideas.
So, the playing field evens out very easily. Kids for whom English is not their first language, kids who are challenged, often kids who are autistic will participate in these image discussions, supported by the teacher through things like paraphrasing, in ways that they don't in other classes. Another surprise for us was the fact that this even playing field that set up allows for disagreements, and teachers are completely delighted that kids can have different opinions about something but not get angry as a result.
They can disagree without rancor, and this is a rare thing in many many classrooms, and it's a very exciting thing, but it sets up the possibility of project and group work in other classes, and that's a very wonderful sort of spinoff of VTS experience, but the strategy of such few questions and knowing how to facilitate a conversation is something that teachers are more and more doing in other lessons. There's a wonderful teacher in Spokane, Washington, named Marion Bageant, who was frustrated by the fact that her second graders, many of whom are English language learners, were having a terrible time with the math curriculum, which put everything in word problems.
So, what Marion decided to do with the kids who were having a terrible time solving these problems was say, finally, what's going on here? And when they had had a conversation that took maybe 15 or 20 minutes, they all went back to their worksheets, and the results on the next test were really quite remarkable, in terms of the numbers of them who reached proficiency. From beginning from a looking strategy, the kids have this sequence that leads them straight to answering research questions, making presentations, using language to do that, and so on and so forth.