Sonoma, CA

Principal Jeff Williamson had two goals when he implemented the Visual Thinking Strategies school program at Old Adobe School in Sonoma, CA. He wanted to increase student engagement and encourage flexible thinking in them. But VTS has improved every aspect of the school, he says.

"Students are listening, asking questions, forming new understanding, and then talking about that understanding," he says. Students are developing critical thinking, as well as honing their communication skills and analytical skills.

Now in its second year of the VTS school program, Williamson says this learning strategy has made Old Adobe "raised the cognitive bar to another level."

"It has transferred to all areas of learning, and the conversations are far deeper, between student and student and student and teacher," he says. "All the conversations in the school are about learning now."

Williamson says that the whole Old Adobe community has been positively impacted by VTS. Parents were invited to join the VTS professional development from the beginning, and those parent practice VTS in monthly parent discussions and lead image discussions on class museum trips.

Teachers at Old Adobe students have benefited as well. At staff meetings, they talk about how to use student-lead learning and foster higher level conversation, Williamson says.

"They are empowered to take ownership of the classroom," he says. "We went from them just trying to get through a lesson, to them slowing down and listening to students." VTS fostered this staff development.