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Guided Inquiry Trails are a combination of teacher- and student-directed lessons that encourage in-depth study of a topic or concept. All lessons can be modified for any grade level or skillset. 

Shoe Project 

By Liz McAvoy, Elementary School Art Teacher in San Francisco

Students begin by observing a shoe closely, painting it, then engaging in playful activities aimed at shifting perspective. The project culminates with an artwork made using a creative strategy. 

2 weeks, 50 min/day


Concept/ Big Idea
There are multiple perspectives from which to view common objects like a shoe. 


Visual interpretation of a a guided inquiry cycle about shoes.

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Generative Questions
What are different ways we can think about and interact with things in our lives?
What are some ways artists make meaning with their art? 

Guiding Questions
If a shoe could talk, what would he/she/it say, and why?
What if a shoe could transform into another object or creature?
How can you create art that makes the viewer think deeply about something in a new way?

Reflection Questions 
What did you learn about a shoe during your investigation?
What did you learn about how artists use creative strategies to make meaning?
What did you learn about yourself?


Middle school student artwork shows the transformation of a shoe.

Flight of Imagination

By Emily Phillips, Art, Career/Technical Education High School Teacher in San Francisco, CA

Students explore functions of shoes around the world and the significance of a shoe as a symbol in some cultures. Students also brainstorm challenges and consider ways redesigned or reformatted shoes could benefit them.

Four to six 75-minute virtual classes. 

Big Idea
Students explore functions of shoes around the world and design their own shoe. 

Understanding Goals
Students/artists pose self-challenges and other parameters during the development of an artwork.

Cross-Curricular Connections
English Language Development, Science, Apparel Design, English Language Arts and, Cultural Studies


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"Attempts at creativity and imagination were my main goals for the students. The idea was for the students to come up with their own flights of fancy using the 'shoe' as the metaphor." - Emily Phillips

Generative Question 
How do I propose a challenge to make artwork about redesigning a shoe that would benefit me and my community?

Guiding Questions
What kind of shoe should I design to help me ..... ?
What can I make to help in this pandemic journey?

Reflection Questions
What did you think and feel about your proposed challenge?
How was the meaning conveyed to others?


Middle School Shoe Project
Flight of Imagination Trail
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