Visual Thinking Strategies

Visual Thinking Strategies engages students in discussion.
Visual Thinking Strategies engages students in discussion.

A popular book study in our K-12 Professional Development offerings was Visual Thinking Strategies by Philip Yenawine. Teachers at all grade levels found this strategy helped expand student discussions. Special Education teachers found Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) very helpful to explore new content. 

In VTS discussions, teachers support student growth by facilitating discussions of carefully selected works of visual art/photographs or media literacy. Teachers are asked to use three open-ended questions to engage student discussion.

  • What’s going on in this picture?

  • What do you see that makes you say that?

  • What more can we find?

Teachers use facilitation techniques to expand student responses. By pointing at the areas being discussed and paraphrasing student comments, teachers helped link and frame student answers. For those teachers being observed using an evidence-based tool, the following evidence can be seen when using Visual Thinking Strategies.

Questioning/Discussion Technique

  • Students are engaged in exploring new content through effective questioning.
  • Engages all students in discussion.
  • Allowing “Think Time” before responding.
  • Topics can be expanded through follow up, rephrasing and applying student responses.

Engages Students in Learning

  • Examples are used to illustrate new learning.
  • New learning connects student knowledge, interests and culture.
  • Problem solving is highlighted as a technique in student learning.
  • Examples are differentiated to meet student needs.

VTS As An Assessment Tool

  • Teachers and peers comment on student responses.
  • Uses Non-verbal cues (nods, quizzical looks etc.) to encourage students.
  • Effective feedback is specific and descriptive.
  • Teacher comments help clarify student responses.
  • Feedback is immediate to support student learning.

Visual Thinking Strategies helps students to truly understand and transfer learning.  It helps them explain, interpret and apply new learning.   

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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Masterpieces for Kids: August 2019

St. Peter’s Basilica
Rome, Italy

This is the 4th part of a yearlong series of great artworks to share with your kids.  Each month I share information about 3 great masterpieces to share with your children.  My goal of these posts is to create a parent-friendly resource to share great masterpieces with your child. I’ve decided on this monthly series because I totally missed sharing the beauty of art with my own children. Better late than never, I guess.

Each post contains a photo of the artwork, the artist’s name, an interesting fact about the artwork and a link to explore more information.  So far, I have shared the following:  Mona Lisa (Leonardo da Vinci), The Starry Night (Vincent Van Gogh), Oriental Poppies (Georgia O’Keeffe), The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, Four Freedoms by Norman Rockwell, American Gothic by Grant Wood, Water Lilies by Claude Monet, Irises by Vincent van Gogh and The Skiff by Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

My grandchildren’s love of playdough inpired by choice of sculptors this month.  You never know, maybe one day they’ll become great sculptors. 

The Statue of Liberty (1886)

In 1886, The Statue of Liberty was given to the United States by France to celebrate the friendship of the two countries that began during the American Revolution.  The copper statue depicts the Roman goddess Libertas holding a torch above her head with her right hand and in her left hand she is carrying a table on which is inscribed the date of the U.S. Declaration of Independence.  The Statue of Liberty has become an American symbol of freedom and democracy. It has been put on both coins and stamps.   

It was designed by French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel (Eiffel Tower). The Statue of Liberty is one of the most famous sculpture in the world. It is in New York Harbor on Ellis Island.

Mount Rushmore is a monument that was carved into the Black Hills of South Dakota. It was started in 1927 and was completed in 1941.  Mount Rushmore stands 500 feet tall!  The faces of four presidents are carved into the mountain: Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Jefferson, and Lincoln. 

The statue Pieta depicts the Virgin Mary holding the body of her dead son Jesus Christ.  It is considered one of the great masterpieces of sculpture.  The artist, Michelangelo was only 24 years old when he sculpted the piece Pieta. The piece is sculpted from a piece of marble.  Pieta is the only sculpture Michelangelo ever signed.  His signature can be seen across Mary’s chest.  Today, the Pieta is in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Right now, my favorite sculptors are under the age of 8 making “playdough masterpieces”. 

Other posts related to this topic:

RTI/MTSS: 3 Great Teaching Resources

A multi-tier system of supports (MTSS)  includes the three levels of RTI. MTSS also covers social and emotional supports.
A multi-tier system of supports (MTSS) includes the three levels of RTI. MTSS also covers social and emotional supports.

RTI/MTSS (Response to Intervention and Multi-Tiered Systems of Support are an important part of intentional teaching.  This multi-level system integrates assessment and intervention to maximize student achievement. The four essential components of an MTSS/RTI framework are screening, progress monitoring, multi-level or multi-tier prevention system, and data-based decision making.  Each of these categories use multiple data sources to identify students at risk to provide focused instruction.

3 Great RTI/MTSS Resources

  • RTI Action Network: Great guidance resources to guide educators and families in the large-scale implementation of RTI.  Their goal is to help educators have access to quality instruction and early identification resources.  
  • Intervention Central – One of the oldest and most extensive resources in the world of RTI.  Many tools and resources are easily accessible for both academic and behavior interventions in the classroom.
  • Center on Response to Intervention: Provides free resources to teachers, schools and districts to help struggling learners and implement Response to Intervention to attain learning standards.

Many schools maintain a yearly goal to continue to explore resources to help understand, implement, or refine their MTSS/RTI programs.  I hope you find the resources above helpful.

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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ThreeRingsConnections’ March 2019 Newsletter

Monthly newsletter archives front Threeringsconnections.org gives parents, teachers and adninistrators resources to support kids.

Preparing kids to think is what we do as teachers.

Three months down in 2019, how are you doing on those New Years Resolutions? If you are still working on catching up on professional development, take a look at this month’s newsletter. All 13 March posts are below, as well as ALL the posts since I started the blog in September 2018. My New Year’s Resolution to get the Threeringsconnections’ newsletter out on a timely, consistent schedule is accomplished: 3 down and 9 more to go! Have a great month!

March 2019 Archives

March’s Most Popular Posts:

3 most viewed by our blog readers. Were they on your favorite list?

My Favorite March Posts:

Take a look at a few posts coming next month

  • Is your child ready for kindergarten
  • Kindergarten Screening- What do they test?
  • Kindergarten Readiness Skills
Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

On this Valentine’s Day, a great big Thank You to all the teachers who LOVE to teach and teach kids to LOVE learning. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Thank you to all the teachers who LOVE to teach and teach kids to LOVE learning.
Happy Valentine’s Day!

ThreeRingsConnections’ Blog Content January 2019

Education is the means of developing our greatest abilities.
Education is the means of developing our greatest abilities.

One month down in 2019- how are you doing on those New Years Resolutions? Was one of your resolutions to fit in some professional development for yourself? If so, take a look at January’s archives and catch up on your resolution. All January’s posts are below, as well as, all 72 posts since I started this blog in September 2018. With this second Newsletter post I’ve achieved 2 months of MY resolution to post a monthly newsletter for Threeringsconnections.org.  2 down and 10 more to go! Have a great month!

January 2019 Archives

January’s Most Popular Posts:

3 most viewed by our blog readers. Were they on your favorite list?

My Favorite January Posts:

Take a look at a few posts coming next month

See some posts coming next month
  • Calling 911 Needs to be Taught to Kids
  • Kids: It’s time for a “shower of hearts”
  • Historical Dates and Learning: Feb. & March
Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

ThreeRingsConnections Blog Content November 2018

love teaching quote Margaret Sangster

Hi Friends!

All the postings for  November 2018. One Stop Searching!  Enjoy!

Topic Date Post Title
Archives

Threeringsonnections.org.

10/31/18 ThreeRingsConnections Blog Content Sept./Oct.
Grants/Good Deals

 

11/24/18 Scholastic Warehouse Sales
Student Teaching

 

11/10/18 Teacher Interview Questions: My Top 9
Math

 

11/1/18

11/3/18

Math Problem Solving and Young Children

 Math Activities for Young Children for Under $10.00 

Literacy

 

11/27/18

 

11/29/18

11/20/18

11/13/18

11/15/18

 

Early Language Development in Kids: Part 1

Early Language Development in Kids: Part 2

Encouraging Writing for Kindergartners

Fluency in Reading: 12 Ways to Increase

Environmental Print is ALL AROUND!

Good Resources 11/6/18 Fine Motor Activities for Kids: Less than $10.00
Gifted Talented/ Enrichment

 

 11/1/18 2-Minute-Mysteries: November
Teaching (General)

 

11/17/18

11/22/18

Understanding is in the Questioning

Receptive Language Toddlers: Simon Says

Early Language Development in Kids: Part 1

Developing early lanugageWhat parent hasn’t questioned their child’s early language development? We are always looking at other kids to benchmark our child’s growth.  It’s normal and we all do it!  As a principal of a K-2 school, a child’s limited vocabulary seemed to be one of a parents’ biggest worries when entering school.

Research says…..

Studies conducted on the importance of vocabulary development certainly helps to heighten our worries.  Research such as:

  • a child’s vocabulary growth is directly linked to his or her overall school achievement [1]
  • the size of a child’s vocabulary in kindergarten predicts his ability to learn to read [2]

WOW, that’s worrisome! However, I, like many other parents didn’t know about the research when my kids were young, and yet my adult children can talk. Don’t get me wrong, my friends and I all worried about their speech.  We got through it by supporting each other by sharing ideas and using common sense. And yes, there was more than one of us who soon thought their child talked too much!

Early Language Development: Top 3 Strategies 

From talking and singing to playing and reading, there are a variety of ways you can nourish early language development in infants and toddlers. Helping children remember the meanings of words and discover the meaning of new words is an important component in early literacy.

  • Talk, Talk, Talk. Yes, it is important to encourage children’s vocabulary development so that they develop the language and literacy skills necessary to succeed in school. However, through everyday conversations and interactions, children can learn unfamiliar words. Use lots of examples and use different more creative words as they get older. Be sure to repeat the words many times in different situations.  Usually, children will understand the word before they can say it or use it in conversation.
  • The key to support your child’s speech and language development is in building language during every day activities. Verbalize what you are doing and try to engage her in conversation about your activities.   A short walk outside will introduce your child to many new words along the route.  Look for new words through your child’s eyes. A good strategy to introduce words is by finding new words through your child’s eyes.  What does he see, hear, smell or touch along the path? Keep the tasting to lunch or a snack when you get home!
  • Engage your child in conversation rather than a “rapid fire” vocabulary activity. Talk about what you have done, doing and are going to do in the future. Follow their lead and don’t “push conversations” when kids are not interested. Slow down and let their talking begin!

Three more early language development activities

  • Sing and say nursery rhymes with toddlers. Be animated with your voice and actions when singing and saying nursery rhymes.  Children will love the actions and it will help them repeat and remember some new words. Prepare yourself  to read stories and nursery rhymes many times and perform multiple encores of songs.
  • Although you may not completely understand everything your toddler says, smile and nod to encourage her to continue talking. Try repeating what he/she says and add some more words for clarification or details.
  • Make games out of picture flash cards to reinforce words. Play hide and seek, find the cat card, turn over the apple, what animal barks. Be silly and have fun!

Reading books helps expand vocabulary 

  • After reading the book, incorporate more open-ended questions into your conversations. This moves your child from naming things/characters in the book to thinking and talking about the story. Ex. why do you think the color of the house is blue??
  • When reading books be descriptive about the language in the book. Discuss the color of the grass or the size of the giraffe.  Although you may read the book multiple times, your conversations can be different.
  • While you are reading, encourage your child to repeat a word for phrase from the book. Sprinkle in “what” questions and add more words.

Final Thoughts:

Expanding your toddler’s vocabulary is all about exposure and fun. Parents are their child’s first teacher and play a major role in helping their child develop language skills.  Start small by setting a simple goal to “language it up” at least one time each day. The bottom line is that by talking, reading, singing and playing with your child, you will see significant growth in their language development.  Sit back and enjoy the journey.

References

  1. Weitzman, E. & Greenberg, J. (2010). ABC and Beyond: Building Emergent Literacy in Early Childhood Settings. The Hanen Centre: Toronto.
  2. Rowe, M. (2012). A Longitudinal Investigation of the Role of Quantity and Quality of Child-Directed Speech in Vocabulary Development. Child Development: 83(5), 1762-1774.

threeringsconnections.orgOther posts related to this topic

Reading to Babies?  Why?

Receptive Language Toddlers: Simon Says

ThreeRingsConnections Blog Content Sept./Oct.

I was recently talking to a friend  about some of the posts on the blog and realized that it would be good to create a Table of Contents for quick access. Yeats quote So here it is!  All the postings for the September and October in a single post. One Stop Shopping!  Enjoy!

Topic Link
Grants Keats (Ezra Jack) Mini-Grant Opportunity

Trips for students from Target Due: Oct. 1st 

Grants for Trips in Hudson Valley

FREE Pet for Pre-K -Grade 9 Classrooms

Student Teaching Student Teacher Characteristics

Student Teacher Refs: Are VIP

Math Numeracy in Early ChildhoodMath Activities for Young Children for Under $10.00

100 Chart for Math

“Math Walks”: Time to “Walk the Talk”

Math Problem Solving and Young Children

Literacy Why? Reading to Babies?

Picture Walks Promotes Reading

5 Parts of Reading: Completes the Puzzle

Concepts of Print Support For Parents

Library Suggestions for Preschool Classrooms

Reading, Writing and Preschool?  Oh MY!

phonological-and-phonemic-awareness-6 (8)

Early Literacy and Common Core in Preschool: How Do they Fit Together in Our Classrooms?

Books Before Kindergarten: 1000?

Good Resources Early Learning Newsletter: U.S. Dept. of Ed.

Magazines: 2 Free for Educators

Best Reading Resources for Teachers

Video Resources Every Kid Needs A Champion

Change Happens… Now What?

Gifted Talented/ Enrichment Mysteries to support critical thinking

Minute-Mysteries: October   

2-Minute-Mysteries: November

Highly-abled students need attention too!

Teaching (General) Add Effective Questioning to Toolkit

Use Your Words Daniel Tiger

3 Words to Help Expression

Fostering Creativity in Kids

Behaviors (7) Predict School Success?

Special Education Resources Fostering Creativity in Kids

Speech Language Pathologists

Fine Motor Activities for Kids: Less than $10.00

What are Fine Motor Skills and why are they important?

fine motor activities kit for toddlers
DIY Fine Motor Activities Kit for Young Kids for Less than $10.00

Fine motor skills are those that involve using muscles which control the hand, fingers and thumb. With the development of these skills, a child is able to complete important tasks such as feeding oneself, buttoning, zippering and writing.  These abilities gradually develop through experience and exposure to a variety of activities.

So this month I decided to create a GG Fun Kit to to strengthen fine motor skills.  As many of you are aware, the kits are my attempt to create unique Christmas gifts for my grandkids.  My goal is for each kit to support learning, be reasonably priced and full of GG/grandkid FUN!  Last month, I created a Math Kit and this month I’m off to the Dollar Store with a $10.00 bill to find materials to support Fine Motor skills.

Fun Activities to Strengthen Fine Motor Skills

Materials Activities
pompoms
  • Sort pompoms in ice cube trays by color
  • Pick up pompoms with tweezers and put in ice cube trays
  • Put pompoms into storage containers
beads
  • String beads using wire
  • Roll post its and put through beads
  • Build structure using beads and post its
wire
  • Use clothespins to hang post its, baggies, rubber bands on wire
  • Wrap wire around ice cube trays
small pencil Write with small pencil on small post its
Post its Use to make connectors between beads
Rubber bands Wrap rubber bands around fingers and practice picking up small items
tweezers Use to pick up small items in kit
tongs Use to pick up small to medium items in kit
Ice cube trays (2)
  • Use trays to sort items by color, number and to make patterns
  • Use the bottom of the tray as a geoboard stretching rubber bands over the shape
  • Stretch rubber bands over the trays
Baggies with zippers
  • Store items
  • Use as a container and take out items using tongs or tweezers
Clear plastic containers
  • Use for storage
  • Put hole in lid and put small items from the kit through the hole using fingers
  • Put items from kit through the hole using tweezer or tongs.
clothespins
  • Use to pick up beads, rubber bands, small pencil, post it.
  • Use to hang items on the wire
Plastic cupcake holder with lid
  • Used to store all items in the kit.
  • Ideally one with a handle is best so it can be carried by children.

Speech Language Pathologists

As a building principal for many years, I had the pleasure of working with National Hearing Month many classroom teachers and special area teachers.  There was not a day that went by that I didn’t learn something from one of them!  One group of teachers that I found to be an amazing source of information was the Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs). Our SLPs were exceptionally helpful in our school’s Response to Intervention (RTI) process.  As part of our RTI process, they worked to find different ways to include language interventions to strengthen student skills.  Collaborating with classroom teachers they were able to explain a child’s limitations based on testing and suggested interventions.  Partnering with parents they explained test scores, program   recommendations and shared progress reports.

Thank you, Holly and Connie!

The 2 sites below are good resources to support teachers, parents and caregivers looking for information on any speech concerns.  Both are active sites with the Main Page having multiple links and search engines to ask specific questions.

Helpful Links

American Speech Language Hearing Association

National Institute of Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDC)

 

Support for Special Education and ELL’s

Support is essential for every child but especially for students with special needs. Because teachers have classrooms filled with students that have many different needs, information is valuable to the learning process.  Parents can help teachers by providing information about their child  that supports their child’s learning.  This communication helps to build a good parent-teacher relationship.

Understood.org- FREE Special Education Resource

Understood.org  provides parents of kids ages 3–20  with learning  issues a free, secure access to personalized information.  Supports are included from experts as well as other parents to help ELL students in the classroom. As a result the site supports a common language for parent/teacher conversations.

https://www.understood.org/en 

Colorín Colorado- FREE ELL Resource

A website that supports teachers and families of English language learners (ELLs) in Grades PreK-12. Colorín Colorado has been providing free information, activities, and advice to parents, schools, and communities around the country for more than a decade.

http://www.colorincolorado.org/about

What sites do you use as a resource to help support parent/teacher partnerships? Please share your websites in the comments section!