I have been thinking about close reading these last couple of weeks and wanted to share a few tips and strategies that may help in your classroom! This first tip focuses on Visual Thinking Strategies. “A Picture can tell a thousand words!” Have you ever tried VTS in your classroom? This strategy allows students to spend time digging into a photo and discussing it with their peers.
Visual Thinking Strategy: VTS
Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) uses art to teach thinking, communication skills,
and visual literacy to young people. Growth is stimulated by three things: looking
at art of increasing complexity, responding to developmentally-based questions,
and participating in group discussions that are carefully facilitated by teachers.
During VTS lessons:
• All students must have ample opportunity to point out what they see
in the art they examine and express their opinions about it.
• Students must know that their thoughts are heard, understood, and
• Students must provide evidence to explain their interpretive
• Students must see that each comment contributes to the group
process of mining the art for multiple meanings.
Take a look at this photo and ask yourself these questions.
What’s going on in this picture?
What do you see that makes you say that?
What more can we find?
For a first reading, you want to ask questions that ensure that the students understand and think about the major ideas in the story or article. That means you limit your questions to big ideas or you query information that you think the students might be confused by.
- ask questions
- Summarize the central message
- What does the story say?
On the second reading, you want to ask questions that require students to analyze how the text works: why the author made certain choices and what the implications of those decisions would be in terms of meaning or tone.
- Author’s purpose
- Story structure
- Text features
- Main purpose
- Point of view
- How does the text work?
On the third reading, the issue is how does this text connect to your life and your views, critical analysis of quality and value, and how the text connects to other texts.
- What does the story mean?
- Meaning from illustrations and words
- Compare/contrast 2 versions of same story
- What did we learn?
- How does this book relate to other books we have read?
- Analyze visual/multi media elements