Home / Program Overview / Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS)

 

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