Join Philip Yenawine for an in-depth discussion in this video Visual Thinking Strategies - Film, part of Visual Thinking Strategies.
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- So take a minute to look, and think about what's going on. - Visual thinking strategies have a very, very positive impact on classrooms. It teaches thinking skills that kids need, teaches language development, teaches strategies for kids working together collaboratively learning through and with each other. What happens in these classes with an image as the starting point for the discussion is that everybody participates. - It's really about fostering confidence and the imagination in these kids.
- Our teachers reached an ahh ha moment when they saw that getting children to have deep high (mumbling) questions was what they really needed. - The students carry the skills that they use in VTS to other areas. - Initially I thought this is just something for fun something for art, but then I began to see how oh no this can be good for reading, this could be good for math, for developing social skills. - The VTS strategies empowers kids to answer, and that way whether it's an art picture or word problem, they're all approaching learning.
- The natural ability of every young child to observe what they see and to think about it, and to become interested in it is there. Every three year old will look at things for a long time and try to figure out what they are. They learn language by way of identifying things that catch their attention. So when you're trying to teach viewing skills, which you're really trying to do, is re-awaking ones that are there all the time.
- I spent most of my life as a museum educator, whose function was to help visitors sort of connect with the art. My first job in a museum was working with high school students at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. When you'd try to teach what the teacher ask you to do, you'd often had experiences like well looking at this Greek pot, what scene would suggest this is from the myth you just studied? Silence. I asked the teacher shortly thereafter, didn't you tell me that you'd taught then Greek myth? She said well I taught them, they just didn't learn it.
When you're confronted with the fact that your best efforts the conventional methods that you've been using for a very long time aren't working, what do you do? To try to get the answer to that I was introduced to a woman named Abigail Housing, who was a cognitive developmental psychologist. Who had done graduate work at the graduate school of education at Harvard, and had learned how to study how people think when they look at works of art. What she was interest in studying was how they use what they know.
- I think that they're in a cemetery, because look their eyes, they look very sad. -Oh okay. So you're looking at the expression on their faces. You say that their eyes look kind of sad. - Like their father died. That's why they look like that. - Visual thinking strategies activates the process of looking by asking questions. The first one is what's going on in this picture? It's not what do you see in this picture? What's going on suggest that you probe them for a little bit of meaning.
- Kayla. - There's a communion like there's families coming together and meeting and talking. - The teacher who facilitates paraphrases what they said. - Kayla says that theirs a communion, and they'res families coming together. - At which point, they are ask to give evidential reasoning. - So what do you see that makes you say that there's a communion? - By linking disagreements, as well as agreements, everybody is treated equally. It's not a right or wrong answer kind of situation, it's all about supporting exactly what they've said no matter what direction it goes.
So a certain amount of credibility and self-confidence builds a result of that, therefore, participating grows. Then we ask what more can you find? So, that we keep a probing process on-going. - What more can we find? Ashley. - I think that's a little village of peace, and I think it takes place in India. - My classroom is a mixture of students with learning disabilities and a lot of students speak English as a second language. Doing VTS in the classroom allows really all students to participate, even the students who struggle with confidence in other academic areas find the confidence in themselves to raise their hand and share during VTS.
- I think there's a fire drill, and that little girl over there, she's lost with her classroom. - So, you agree with Aaron that this girl looks lost, or maybe she's lost her class during a fire drill? - What do you see that makes you say that? Sometimes the teacher you want to drill the right answer. I think stopping and seeing where a kids answer comes from and trying to make the connections, I think with the VTS, when you're rephrasing what the kids say and connecting it to another kid empowers them, also, creates these natural links, which they're ask to do all the time in reading and writing.
This is a natural way to do it. -Standing around her, what do you see that makes you say that might be a mom? - All of a sudden the right answer kids think is their a right answer her? Meanwhile, the kids who have not necessarily also know the right answer have lots of ideas so the playing field evens out very easily. This allows for kids to have different opinions about something but not get angry as a result. They can disagree without (mumbling). - I'll agree at the same time disagree with (Veanna).
They're probably a married couple, but I disagree that they're going to a restaurant. I think that (Rayvon) said it that he has a pad and some brushes. If they're going to a restaurant, why would he bring that? - So your groups idea that they are a couple, but don't see how they could be going to a restaurant, because he's carrying a pallet. This pallet here. Regina. - The bird, maybe it symbolize something like a bond or something, art.
- It could symbolize what? - A bond of art. - A bond of art. So you're noticing this bird here and how it can represent bond of art. What do you mean by bond of art? What do you see that makes you say that he's a writer? - There's something coming out to the page that he (mumbling). That represents all the words and everything. Then the birds looks like they're coming out of the pages kind of.
- Once I went through the training with my teachers, I was really on the fence, because I wanted them to tell me what was this artist thinking about? Why did this artist paint this? I had all these questions and I wanted answers? I think because we live in a society today that's so fast paced, we have lots of things on our plate, and we're always trying to check them off our list. It took me a while to see it's about reflection. It's about looking inside.
It's about dialoguing, giving, and taking, and accepting somebody's elses opinion. - I just thought it was too simple. What's the big deal? We're looking at art, how's this going to effect reading and writing? Okay, I'll give it a try, we'll see what happens. Then I actually saw for the first time in a science lesson, and the teacher was able to pull vocabulary from them from the picture in the text book, she started asking the questions.
The kids started talking, and they were well, I disagree with that, or what about this? I thought wow we're on to something here. - In math you can put up a graph, and it's how you ask the kids well what do you see? What does this graph show? That's what I wanted. I wanted it to make sense for those teachers. (mumbling) doing it now for four years. They just do it all the time. They don't have to preform. It's just something they do everyday. It just become a habit for them. - One more thing to say about that.
I have grown as a teacher through using the VTS strategies, because in other subject areas I find myself not giving the answer as much, but leaving things more open-ended. The student can continue to debate and research and find the information for themselves, or just give their opinion based on observations and not be told you're right or you're wrong. - After the first training immediately, I began to see the results in my walk-throughs.
Overall in the school, it has created a culture to where it is no longer acceptable to sit back and not talk about what is going on in the classroom. The kids realized that it is very important to share your idea, and that way as a group, you can actually learn together. -Through the course of decades of working with Housing and using her methods to try to find out if the new teaching strategies would develop actually did work.
We found out we could produce growth. We could produce change. We could produce new sets of thinking skills. The general experience of VTS is tailor made to build the kind of learning that is on-going, and in the end enabling kids for careers and all kinds of things. - It makes me happy I start to feel proud that they're raising their hands and participating and respecting each others opinions. - If you foster that kind of community in your class, the kids aren't afraid to say what they think, to kind of go off the deep end and say something wild and crazy or something really simple, whatever they're comfortable with.
It meets every kid at every level. It's something that will nurture them in a greater way.