Exploring Artwork to Enhance Critical Thinking and Expression (Virtual Tour)
Stage of Literacy Development:
Stage 2: Consolidation / Fluency
Stage 3: Literacy for Growth
Primary: Knowledge Building, Text Structures & Genres
Each month, the students investigate a different artist. They first look at a number of artwork by this artist, and a visual thinking strategy. We then look at a specific artwork by this artist and create our own version of their artwork. Then they are required to think about their artwork and reflect on it in a written paragraph. In the visual thinking strategy, we look at a number of pieces by the artist and examine their artwork. I ask them what they see and what makes them say that. And this really touches on their critical thinking, and really delves into what their perspective is on that specific artwork. When they're creating their own art based on that design, we look at the technique that's involved.
In this case, for this month, the artist was Vincent Van Gogh, and we focused on the sunflower. So I presented them with an actual artefact of a sunflower in a frame, and they could use this for a still life. They also looked at some of his posters of the sunflower to create their own. We then posted them up in our art gallery, and the students reflected on who they thought that the sunflower was painted for, and this was done after we read a story called Camille and the Sunflower, and they were able to use the characters from the story to also incorporate in their paragraph.
The goal of Visual Thinking Strategies: Exploring Artwork to Enhance Critical Thinking and Expression (Virtual Tour) is to use a method developed by Abigail Housen and Philip Yenawine to build students' inquiry skills and their ability to make inferences orally and in writing.
- The Visual Thinking Strategies method should promote participation and encourage students to take risks. Facilitate the discussion by continuously referring to the open-ended questions "What do you see?" and "What makes you say that?" rather than leading the students to a correct response.
- Encourage students to think outside of the box. Although they are creating a work of art based on a given artwork, creativity should be promoted.
- Guide students during their written work by encouraging them to always go back to the text or picture to look for evidence to support their thinking.