Buckley students in Masami Hansen’s 7th grade English class view pictures, describe what they see, and think about what might be occurring in the scenes. The use of art is part of an emerging educational methodology, Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), which gets students in the habit of identifying, interpreting, and constructing a narrative or idea based on what they see in an image.
“When viewing an image, students are asked to see, think, and wonder,” Hansen says. “I then ask them to do the same thing with text. Developing the skills of visual literacy is an entry point into textual literacy and analysis.”
This summer, Hansen attended The Clarice Smith National Teacher Institute at the Smithsonian inWashington,D.C.where teachers from around the world used the vast Smithsonian art collection to study connections among art, technology, and curricula. Participants learned some basic VTS skills to employ in the classroom. The VTS ideas turned out to be some of the most important to Hansen as she began to rethink how visual literacy could be used to develop students’ textual literacy and critical thinking skills.
Research shows students using VTS also practice respect, collaboration, and problem-solving during class discussions, methods that are consistent with Buckley’s 4-Fold Plan of Education. The philosophy combines academics, arts, physical development, and moral education. Nestled in the hills of Sherman Oaks, The Buckley School has an enrollment of just 790 students, creating a warm, secure, personal learning environment.
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