Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) is an inquiry-based teaching strategy for all grade levels. The goal of VTS is not to teach the history of a work of art but, rather, to encourage students to observe independently and to back up their comments with evidence.
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.It provides for open-ended yet highly structured discussions of visual art, and significantly increases students’ critical thinking, language, and literacy skills along the way.
Through VTS’ rigorous group ‘problem-solving’ process, students cultivate a willingness and ability to present their own ideas, while respecting and learning from the perspectives of their peers. Engaged by contributing observations and ideas, the students participate in VTS-based lessons in ways they often don’t in others. VTS is a curriculum for schools; as a method of discussion, it is used in many art museums.
Experience with VTS produces growth in all students, from challenged and non-English language learners to high achievers.
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 comments
Students 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 many possible interpretations