Historic mural in Houston will be repaired



Teachers comments about our VTS 10/17 presentation in Portland

Visual Thinking Skills

The presentation expanded my knowledge

I gained knowledge/skills 12345

The presentation was clear and engaging


This was excellent for those of us teaching a variety of levels – newcomers to more advanced. Well done.

It was something I was sort of doing without realizing it. The presentation gave me direction to expand on what I was doing and make it better.

This was an interesting process to be walked through. You learn so much about what everyone sees in the same picture.

Implemented it today and it was well received by my ELLs.
Very informative. A great approach for helping ELL students to write expressively.

I thoroughly enjoyed this breakout session. The small group setting supported the presentation, and I loved the fact that we have an appropriate activity that I can bring back to school and use with my students.

So creative and a great idea for improving speaking proficiency.
Loved the presentation. Would love to continue with more information.
Excellent presenters, engaging and informative. I will use this in my practice.
Fantastic!!! Ready to implement!!! 🙂
This was also great! I loved the presenters, and the strategy seemed very easy to use and ELL friendly.

Very applicable to all levels of teaching, and more appropriate for our students. It gave me ideas that I could use immediately with my students. I thought it was the best presentation of the day.

This was great- the three presenters did a fabulous job keeping it lively and engaging. This will be useful in the future.

Gave a protocol for Visual thinking skills. Good demonstration of how to use this for English Language learners.

I put this right to use on Monday and my students ROCKED!!! Loved the whole presentation, thanks ladies

All 3 presenters were excellent. I could incorporate VTS immediately in my classroom! Fabulous ideas. will use in my job.

I have learned about Visual Thinking Skills. I will incorporate this strategy in teaching listening, speaking, reading and writing.


I’ve used visual thinking in my classes, so this seminar supplemented what I already knew. It was interesting to see how an artist, author, and ELL teacher used the same protocol in different ways to develop student learning.

The presenters worked very well as a team. engaging

I love this. It is something I can put to use today.

I work 1:1 which would not make this as beneficial for my students, but I do like it.



This was a totally new way of thinking about language instruction. The three perspectives from different instructors combined with the hands-on practice made this very powerful professional development. It was so inspiring that I already tried this in two different classes today! The students loved it too!

Thank You to the 70 teachers who attended our VTS /Let’s Talk About It workshops.

VTSVisual Thinking Strategies: Let’s Talk About It

Visual Thinking Strategies is a discussion based teaching and learning strategy that works with all content area subjects. It encourages students to use prior knowledge and their perceptions to understand visual and written content. It is a learning cycle that asks students to engage in all four of the literacy domains of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Visual Thinking Strategies is based on teacher paraphrase of academic and precise vocabulary with call and response. It is a breakthrough strategy to use with any student but particularly with ELLs.

Kirsten McWilliams has been teaching in the Portland Public Schools for eighteen years. She taught at Deering for fifteen years, focusing on creative writing and then academic writing, a strategies-based class for struggling writers. After getting her ELL endorsement in 2013 she transitioned to teaching ELL at King Middle School. Her learning curve teaching ELL has been huge and invigorating.

When Margy Burns Knight is not writing books and visiting classrooms she works as Winthrop’s Play Outside Coordinator. She is the volunteer coordinator for LETC (Learning English Though Cooking classes hosted by the Capital Area New Mainers Project).

Louisa Donelson has worked in museum and arts education for twelve years. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, she is currently the Associate Educator for Youth Learning at the Portland Museum of Art where she manages the school, family, and teen programs. She believes in the transformative power of art and that everyone has something to teach and has something to learn.