I use Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) all the time in my classes. It’s a great way to introduce a new idea, have shy folks share their ideas, and have students practice using evidence to make claims. VTS starts with presenting students an image whose meaning is not immediately apparent. Through an engaged and structured conversation (based upon three questions – What’s going on here? What makes you say that? What more can we find?) students work to piece together visual cues to make sense of the image. This type of engagement can promote critical thinking and can help students of all levels interact with the curriculum in meaningful wells. Check out this piece (co-written with Erin Adams) to get step-by-step instructions for using VTS in the classroom as well as some ideas for incorporating it across the curriculum.
Social studies teachers use art ALL the time in their teaching. Whether it is bringing in an image of a painting from a particular time period in history class, What is not ubiquitous is any explanation of why art is so powerful and provocative in helping students learn about the world. Jim Garrett & I wrote a piece in the most recent issue of Theory & Research in Social Education that takes a stab at theorizing why art seems to work in social studies education.
This article shows how different types of online (& free!!) digital mapping can be used in the Teacher Education classroom tohelp teach students about the issues facing their communities and the schools therein. I gear this towards folks who may have never even heard the term “GIS,” but recognize that learning about spaces and why things happen where they do is important to anyone – especially future educators. Lots of links, suggested activities, and easy stuff to integrate into your courses.