Explore Fiber is a collaborative website showcasing and exploring fiber as a fine art material.
“What’s the Big Idea?” journal page by Christine Miller
Education is changing in some ways to adapt to the 21st c., but has been and continues to be grounded in an ancient practice of asking questions. Socrates is the first guy that got credit for it, and now (in the beginning of the 21st century) we are strongly reaching back to these fundamental questioning activities. Though there are articles and books to help teachers select the best Essential Questions to give their students, the questions that our students generate themselves are the most meaningful, relevant, powerful and essential. Reconnecting our students with the joys of questioning (& thinking – remember, they all asked tons of questions when they were 4) is a big part of the goal of teaching today. Thank goodness we are making our way back to more autonomy for our students; we are teaching them how to take charge of their learning; we are letting them explore a little slice of life and encouraging them to ask as many questions about it as possible.
Explore Fiber lessons are designed to:
We are not suggesting what “Big Ideas” you should use for a particular lesson, so we have not included a specific direction that we think you should take in each project. in fact we are encouraging you to have you or your students choose the Big Idea you want to frame a lesson in. Each lesson could be approached from different Big Ideas, and combed with a questioning strategy, your student will create a meaningful and unique artistic expression.
Big Ideas, also referred to as Enduring Ideas, or Themes, are ideas that are common to all humanity. We all know things like: love, conflict, identity, fantasy, etc. There are many, many Big Ideas that are a great jumping off point for an artistic endeavor. Let us show you how you can adapt any one of our lessons to be viewed through a variety of Big Ideas. For instance, the Sculptural Needle Felting lesson on this site could be inspired by these Big Ideas:
Choosing the Big Idea you want to explore provides a great jumping off point for an exploration. The instructor or the student can decide what Big Idea they want to explore. Here is a Big Ideas in Art handout that the author has put together with the help of some friends. This is by no means an exhaustive list! Perhaps you have some Big Ideas you’ve thought about not on this list – add them! It’s fun to peruse the list of possible “lenses” to view life from – this is what makes art so dynamic and essential to man’s existence!
Reconnecting our students to the excitement of questioning is where the art of teaching and the excitement of learning really intersect. The more you can work questioning activities into your teaching practice, the more connected, excited, motivated and curious your students will become! It is truly magical to see our students immersed in their work, excited and engaged from bell to bell! If you aren’t including questioning activities into your classroom routine, we are listing some wonderful resources below to support your learning in this area as well. This list is by no means exhaustive either! We would love to hear from you with your own discoveries about questioning activities.
Take the time to check these resources out – EXPLORE! Have fun! Reconnect (or strengthen) your own questioning! Find activities that resonate with you, that you could incorporate into your own dance of teaching. Share resources you have found, or experiences you have had with your students. Remember, our mission is for Explore Fiber to be an interactive community, so feel free to reach out to us. Here area some of the resources we have discovered:
Question Formulation Technique: Dan Rothstein & Luz Santana:
Artful Thinking: Developed by the Traverse City Area Public Schools and Project Zero at Harvard Graduate School of Education
Project Zero: Harvard Graduate School of Education
Have something to add to this resource page? Contact Us at Explore Fiber and contribute to the conversation about best practices in our art education classrooms!