Spokane Public School Teachers Apply Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) to Art and Beyond
With assistance and training from the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, Spokane Public Schools educators are learning how to use Visual Thinking Strategies to create more confident students, whatever the subject area.
Visual Thinking Strategies
Developing Powerful 21st Century Skills Through Art
Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) is a research-based, international teaching method that uses works of art to support observation, creative and critical thinking, listening, and communication skills in all students. Rigorous discussions of art nurtures students’ aesthetic development and visual literacy. During a VTS discussion, students learn to reason in a social context. Over time, this practice transfers critical thinking to all subject areas. In VTS, visual art is the catalyst for complex thinking, cooperative learning, and language development.
"To build a society that is innovative, prosperous, and truly democratic we need to teach next generations not just facts and skills, but how to learn, how to communicate, and how to think creatively, critically, independently."
--Philip Yenawine, VTS Co-Founder
VTS is both a professional development program and a critical thinking curriculum designed to meet the needs of all learners.
Benefits for teachers
- Discussions provide a unique vantage point into student's learning processes.
- Open-ended, inquiry-based strategies build community and teach respectful debate.
- Meets the high-cognitive demand for Common Core State Standards in Speaking and Listening, ELA, Art and more
- Strategies naturally transfer to content areas.
Benefits for students
- Exposure to high quality diverse art in a safe and nurturing way
- Jumpstarts and ingrains the development of critical thinking, problem solving, and a range of language skills
- Open-ended, non-evaluative paraphrasing encourages even hard to reach students to participate.
- Engaging way to authentically learn vocabulary
Objectives of VTS Professional Development
- Train specialists to facilitate conversations about art in classrooms/small group work
- Reflect on teaching and learning through modeling and coaching opportunities
- Learn to evaluate growth in student thinking: speaking and listening skills, critical thinking, vocabulary, conditional language, evidentiary reasoning, supported inferences and more
- Foster a life-long facilitation tool that can be adapted across content areas
Overview of Professional Development
DAY 1: Launching VTS (6 hours)
- Understand the environment of learner-centered facilitation
- Learn the elements of VTS and the research and theory behind it
- Practice facilitating and reflecting on VTS image discussions
- Implementation tips and pacing
- Access to VTS curriculum
Three 2-hour debrief trainings
- Paraphrasing techniques
- Consider how VTS might be used to create more equitable learning environments
- Image selection
- Continued practice with coaching
- VTS pacing guides, research and theory, useful paraphrasing language, assessment rubric
- Access to VTS website which contains grade level curriculum, articles, videos and more
The twelve hours of professional development, curriculum, and resources is $275 per participant. For groups larger than 10, please send your inquiry to Lindsey.Newton@NorthwestMuseum.org for custom scheduling and group pricing.
These trainings will be in person at the MAC with the possibility that a portion of the professional development will occur virtually.
Initial Launch: Saturday, February 18, 2023, 9:00 am-4:00 pm (One 6-hour session with 1-hour lunch break)
Debrief dates: Saturday, March 18, 2023, 12:00-2:00 pm; Saturday, April 15, 2023, 12:00-2:00 pm; Saturday, May 20, 2023, 12:00-2:00 pm (three 2-hour sessions).
The MAC is approved by the Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) to provide clock hours for the 2022-23 approval period, and this course is eligible for up to 12 clock hours.
VTS Practice Group Series
Registration is also now open for the VTS Practice Group, an opportunity for VTS practitioners at all levels to hone facilitation skills through practice and group coaching in a supportive environment.
The VTS Practice Series will meet 10:00 am-12:00 pm on the following Saturdays:
March 18, April 15, April 29, and May 13.
For more information please contact
Lindsey Newton | VTS Trainer | she/her
Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture
Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) Educational Video
The MAC shows how visual interaction with art boosts academic achievement.