Principal's Corner

Principal’s Corner

MCAS Testing Over the Next Two Weeks

  • Monday 3/23 & Tuesday 3/24:  Gr. 3 & 5 ELA
  • Wednesday 3/25 & Thursday 3/26:  Gr. 4 & 7 ELA
  • Monday, March 30 & Tuesday, March 31: Gr. 6 & 8 ELA
  • Thursday, April 2:  Gr. 4 & 7:  ELA (Long Composition)

Visual Thinking Strategies

“What’s going on in this picture?”  With that simple question, educator (and Lawrence parent) Amy Lieberman and her colleague, Philip Yenawine, immediately engaged members of our faculty in a protocol designed to promote visual thinking strategies.   As staff examined a carefully selected image of a piece of art, they shared what they noticed.  Amy followed up by asking, “What do you see that makes you say that?” or “What more can you find?”   This simple process extended our thinking and led to a deeper understanding of the image.

Philip Yenawine is cofounder of Visual Understanding in Education, a nonprofit research organization that provides teacher training and author of the recent book “Visual Thinking Strategies: Using Art to Deepen Learning Across School Disciplines.”   VTS was developed more than twenty years ago and is used in museums around the world.   Amy Lieberman, a museum educator and high school teacher, read about our work at Lawrence with habits of mind and approached me with a generous offer for Philip and her to work with our teachers.

During the presentation, Philip went on to highlight the application of these strategies to poetry, social studies and mathematics.   He shared research to suggest that using visual thinking strategies over time will lead to…

  • “Making observations more detailed
  • Inferring meaning from observations
  • Basing inferences on evidence
  • Listening to peers with other observations or interpretations
  • Probing for more ideas
  • Holding a variety of views as plausible
  • Tolerating ambiguity
  • Debating possibilities with others
  • Revising and elaborating”

He argued that repeated practice with visual thinking strategies can lead to them becoming habitual behaviors that will transfer to other contexts.

The visual thinking strategies model is a perfect fit for our work to develop habits of mind connected to different aspects of thinking. About 40 staff members, representing four of our seven study groups, participated in the session held during a recent faculty meeting. A week after this session, I observed the entire fifth grade try out these strategies during a common mathematics period in an effort to promote more flexible and creative thinking in problem solving.

I would like to extend a special thank you to Philip Yenawine and Amy Lieberman for giving their time to work with us. A serendipitous (and meaningful) bit of parent involvement!

For more information on visual thinking strategies, visit http://www.vtshome.org/.

Rick Rogers
rick_rogers@brookline.k12.ma.us