First let me tell you that this was a huge revelation to me! While I have been using this method to lesser degrees for years, I never knew how deeply logical this could be to use when designing inclusive lessons for diversified classrooms. It gives us a clear and easy starting point (on almost any teachable subject and/or concept) to implement Universal Design for Learning (UDL) practices. Furthermore, implementing this practice of fostering student engagement will contribute to easier and more dynamic classroom management (DCMA).

The revelation was in the simplicity of this approach, the extent to which it personifies inductive learning, and how much it can be used as part of any scaffolding process. In a nutshell, the teacher offers something for the students to observe and reflect upon… then they teach whatever might be missing through an incremental questioning and reflection process. It starts with three questions… sort of…

  • What’s going on in this picture?
  • What do you see that makes you say that?
  • What more can you/we find?
  • THEN…
  • Listen carefully to each comment
  • Point to features described in the artwork throughout the discussion
  • Paraphrase all comments
  • Continue the process until a greater understanding as been agreed upon…

With my desire to teach abroad for the remainder of my teaching career, this feels like an excellent skill and method to breach the language & cultural divide.

Course Description: “What if teachers taught with questions rather than lectures? What if students were asked to reflect instead of regurgitate? Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) challenges the standard model of teaching by encouraging a reflection-and-response style of learning. Designed by art educator Philip Yenawine and developmental psychologist Abigail Housen, VTS relies on children’s natural ability to observe, using imagery as the starting point for learning. The teacher asks open-ended questions; students reflect and respond. The process has been proven to strengthen critical thinking skills, language development, confidence, and collaboration. Watch VTS at work in three Louisiana schools and find out what alternative teaching methods like these might have in store for America’s classrooms.”

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