What choices do we make as educators that support students to take risks with their thinking, rather than believe there is only one way of approaching a question or problem? What ways might looking closely at images and text encourage that risk taking? In Katherine Bishop’s essay, “How Artwork Changed My Classroom,” an elementary school teacher in central Maine shares her story of shifting her teaching practice to better support her students, by incorporating VTS image discussions in her classroom in different ways with a variety of images.
One way Bishop’s practice encouraged me to rethink my own is through her use of VTS as part of interactive read-alouds of children’s picture books. Some VTS practitioners may avoid discussing illustrations alongside text for fear that “correct answers” in the text might close off the open-ended nature of an image discussion. I appreciate, however, how Bishop and her students discuss illustrations in a way that challenges the primacy of the written word. Rather than granting the writer’s words final authority, in Bishop’s classroom images and text exist side by side, communicating in different modes.
Throughout the process of serving as Bishop’s editor for this edition of Site Specific, I have been inspired by her critical examination of teacher choices and the impact they have on students. Bishop’s essay serves as a firm reminder of something at the core of VTS practice—the transformative power of group discussion. —Kabir Singh
Special thanks to Robyn Muscardini, peer reviewer for this edition; and Madison Brookshire, co-editor.
Questions or comments? Contact us.