VISUAL THINKING STUDIOS

Howell, MI

"You can almost teach anything with VTS. It's practically bulletproof," says Gay Lundin, an art teacher at Voyager Elementary in Howell, Michigan. She completed the professional development series in 2008, and now uses it to introduce every lesson in her classroom. She also facilitates lessons from the VTS school program, cycling all 550 students at her school through the art room on VTS Wednesdays.

Lundin was first exposed to VTS while reserching Project Zero through Harvard University. She quickly realized she wanted to learn more, and that VTS "is not an independent study. You need other people."

Lundin joined a group of docents at the Detroit Institute of Arts for the first professional development workshop. As she learned and practiced VTS more, she realized how valuable it would be in her school, but that she needed more training to get the maximum benefits.

"You can learn VTS in 20 minutes, but mastering it takes a lifetime," Lundin says. "It's so easy, but it's so difficult."

During the professional development institutes, Lundin was able to observe experienced and expert adults lead VTS discussions. Through these observations and group discussions, Lundin realized she could raise the level of conversation in her classroom though paraphrasing. "I'd been paring it down, which wasn't helping the students as much as bringing the language up."

"We VTS everything," she says, "not only the core VTS curriculum but the student's projects, and their thinking portfolios. 'What is going on in this image' is a way of life! Our Thinking Portfolios combine the creative energies that sketching and VTS writing celebrate!"

Since then, Lundin has been through all three professional development institutes, and she won a state award from the Michigan Association of School Boards, for the best elementary education project in 2006. "The recognition this award has brought to our school, has allowed me to share with others the power VTS can bring to one's literacy program. We all know you have to read before one can write...but teaching children how to see....makes writing fun!"

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