The Museum has partnered with the Rapides Parish School Board using Visual Thinking Strategies to introduce a visual literacy program in Rapides Parish Schools. The Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) teaching method and curriculum centers on open-ended yet highly-structured discussions of visual art. Through VTS' rigorous and engaging individual and 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.
The curriculum consists of ten sessions focused on examining three to four artworks. The final session is spent at the Museum. In VTS discussions, teachers support student growth by facilitating discussions of carefully selected works of visual art by asking three questions and paraphrasing student responses:
What’s going on in this picture?
What do you see that makes you say that?
What more can we find?
Students must look carefully at the works of art, describe what they observe, back up their ideas with evidence, and discuss many possible interpretations. This process builds critical thinking, language, and literacy skills that can be used across subject areas to enhance students’ ability to learn.
This curriculum is a great fit for the local schools as VTS connects directly to key standards in the English Language Arts of the Common Core State Standards Initiative. The Museum empowers local teachers to conduct this curriculum by providing bi-annual training by a VTS instructor, offering online resources, and regular observation and feedback by Museum educators.
Due to the link to growth in observational and critical thinking skills, many medical and nursing schools have embraced VTS around the world. Currently, VTS is being facillitated in the Nursing and Criminal Justice programs as Louisiana State University at Alexandria.