Every Object Tells a Story - Exploring Islamic Art and Artifacts Through Drama

Unit Overview

Created in Partnership with:

This Ontario Ministry of Education resource was prepared by teachers, for teachers in partnership with the Aga Khan Museum. Curriculum resources were inspired by the Museum’s Permanent Collection. Object information and images courtesy of the Aga Khan Museum.

Abstract

This unit has been created for a Grade 9 or 10 Drama class. The unit could be situated in the middle to latter part of the course so that students can apply the knowledge, skills and techniques they have learned throughout the course and connect them with their own stories and experiences in a meaningful way. The purpose of this unit is threefold: for students to: 1) engage in self-inquiry and object-based work to tell stories about objects of personal cultural significance from multiple perspectives and lens, 2) to do guided inquiry which explores intersections and interrelationships found in the shapes, patterns and designs of Islamic art and architecture and to create individual and collaborative movement and dance pieces to represent these connections, and 3) to do independent and collaborative inquiry work using objects and materials found in the main galleries and online digital collections of the Aga Khan museum in order to use both drama and movement strategies to tell the stories behind the creators and the creation of the objects themselves and about their social and cultural significance.

For more information on how to support students in inquiry learning, see BLM #1 - Engaging students in Inquiry-based Learning.

For a brief introduction to Islam and Muslim Peoples, see BLM #2 - A Brief Introduction to Islam and Muslim Peoples

For an introduction to the Aga Khan Museum and Collection, see BLM #3 - Introduction to his Highness the Aga Khan and the Aga Khan Museum

Drama, Grade 9 ADA 1O: Overall Expectations

A. Creating and Presenting

  • A1.  The Creative Process: use the creative process and a variety of sources and forms, both individually and collaboratively, to design and develop drama works;
  • A2.  Elements and Conventions: use the elements and conventions of drama effectively in creating individual and ensemble drama works, including works based on a variety of sources;
  • A3.  Presentation Techniques and Technologies: use a variety of presentation techniques and technological tools to enhance the impact of drama works and communicate for specific audiences and purposes.
Specific Expectations
  • A1.  The Creative Process: A1.1, A 1.2
  • A2.  Elements and Conventions: A2.1
  • A3.  Presentation Techniques and Technologies: A3.1, A3.2

B.  Reflecting, Responding, and Analysing

  • B1.  The Critical Analysis Process: use the critical analysis process to reflect on and evaluate their own and others’ drama works and activities;
  • B2.  Drama and Society: demonstrate an understanding of how societies present and past use or have used drama, and of how creating and viewing drama can benefit individuals, groups, and communities;
  • B3.  Connections Beyond the Classroom: identify knowledge and skills they have acquired through drama activities and ways in which they can apply this learning in personal, social, and career contexts.
Specific Expectations
  • B1.  The Critical Analysis Process: B1.1.
  • B2.  Drama and Society: B2.4.
  • B3.  Connections Beyond the Classroom: B3.1, B3.2

C. Foundations

  • C1. Concepts and Terminology: demonstrate an understanding of the nature and functions of drama forms, elements, conventions, and techniques, including the correct terminology for the various components;
  • C2. Contexts and Influences: demonstrate an understanding of the origins and development of drama and theatre arts and their influence on past and present societies;
  • C3. Responsible Practices: demonstrate an understanding of safe, ethical, and responsible personal and interpersonal practices in drama activities.

Specific Expectations

  • C1.  Concepts and Terminology: C1.1, C1.2
  • C2.  Contexts and Influences: C.2.1
  • C3.  Responsible Practices: C3.2, C3.3

Drama, Grade 10 ADA2O: Overall Expectations

  • A.  Creating and Presenting
  • A1.  The Creative Process: use the creative process and a variety of sources and forms, both individually and collaboratively, to design and develop drama works;
  • A2.  Elements and Conventions: use the elements and conventions of drama effectively in creating individual and ensemble drama works, including works based on a variety of sources;
  • A3.  Presentation Techniques and Technologies: use a variety of presentation techniques and technological tools to enhance the impact of drama works and communicate for specific audiences and purposes.
Specific Expectations
  • A1.  The Creative Process: A1.1, A1.2.
  • A2.  Elements and Conventions: A2.1, A2.2.
  • A3.  Presentation Techniques and Technologies: A3.1, A3.2.

B.  Reflecting, Responding, and Analysing

  • B1.  The Critical Analysis Process: use the critical analysis process to reflect on and evaluate their own and others’ drama works and activities;
  • B2.  Drama and Society: demonstrate an understanding of how societies present and past use or have used drama, and of how creating and viewing drama can benefit individuals, groups, and communities;
  • B3.  Connections Beyond the Classroom: identify knowledge and skills they have acquired through drama activities and ways in which they can apply this learning in personal, social, and career contexts.
Specific Expectations
  • B1.  The Critical Analysis Process: B1.1.
  • B2.  Drama and Society: B2.2, B2.4
  • B3.  Connections Beyond the Classroom: B3.1, B3.2

C.  Foundations

  • C1.  Concepts and Terminology: demonstrate an understanding of the nature and functions of drama forms, elements, conventions, and techniques, including the correct terminology for the various components
  • C2.  Contexts and Influences: demonstrate an understanding of the origins and development of drama and theatre arts and their influence on past and present societies;
  • C3.  Responsible Practices: demonstrate an understanding of safe, ethical, and responsible personal and interpersonal practices in drama activities.
  • Specific Expectations
  • C1.  Concepts and Terminology: C1.1, C1.2
  • C2.  Contexts and Influences: C2.1.
  • C3.  Responsible Practices: C3.1, C3.2, C3.3  

Unit ‘Big Questions’ and Sub-Questions

Questions Relating to Multiple Perspectives in creating object-based work in Drama

  • What do artifacts tell us about people or peoples?
  • What other stories do artifacts tell?
  • What might individual artifacts combine to create in a museum?
  • How can the stories behind the artifacts change depending on who has had possession of the object at a particular time?
  • What elements of the artifact are most useful in helping us to tell stories about them?
  • Considering that objects can tell or reveal different stories at different time periods, considering the contexts in which they are created for the purposes for which they are used, how many stories can be told from different perspectives about particular objects?

Questions Relating to Islamic art, architecture and design

  • What is Islamic art? In what forms is it produced? For what purposes is it used?
  • What are the historical origins of the use of geometric shapes and patterns used in Islamic art and architecture?
  • Why are these shapes and patterns used in Islamic art (for example in mosaics, arabesques, tiles, on the folios of the Qur’an)? Students will develop a deeper understanding of the symbolic use of shapes, patterns and designs in Islamic art and architecture throughout the lesson.
  • What can be learned from an exploration of intersections and interrelationships in these patterns which is representative of the ways in which over time artistic knowledge was transmitted between different cultures and different parts of the Islamic world?
  • How does Islamic art reflect the cultural, social, political and economic contexts in which it was produced and/or used?

Questions about the Aga Khan Museum and collections

  • Who is His Highness the Aga Khan?
  • What is the purpose of the Aga Khan Museum?
  • What kinds of works of art and other objects are part of its permanent, digital and temporary galleries?

Questions about inquiry, storytelling and the use of drama and dance strategies to tell the stories of artifacts from their creation to their acquisition as part of the Aga Khan Museum collection

  • How can we select and develop useful inquiry-based questions that will help us uncover the backstories behind the creators, users of the object (in its varied ways) and how the object came to be part of the Aga Khan collection?
  • What questions do I need to generate and figure out the answers to missing questions that I have relating to my chosen object?
  • What resource materials (digital, museum-based etc) can help to answer questions connected to the independent/collaborative inquiry work?
  • How can a combination of drama and/or dance and movements strategies be useful to describe/tell the journey of how artifacts in the Aga Khan collection were created, used, travelled and arrived in Toronto as part of the collection?
  • Which drama and/or dance strategies are most useful in creating a performance-based piece using a combination of storytelling and movement-based pieces in different formats?

Assessment and Evaluation

Lesson 1

Class Discussion, Success Criteria, Teacher/Peer Feedback, Teacher Checklist.

Lesson 2

Graphic Organizers, Class Discussion, Teacher Observation, Teacher/Peer Feedback, Journal Writing, performance

Assessment Tools: BLM #12 - Flocking the Shapes Performance Rubric

Lesson 3

Success Criteria, Class Discussion, Side Coaching, Teacher and Peer Feedback, Peer and Self Evaluation.

Assessment Tools:  BLM #15 - Performance Rubric  

Assessment for Learning

  • Circulate during writing and discussion
  • Help to organize learning using graphic organizers
  • Check in with students, giving them descriptive feedback and offering prompting questions
  • Encourage them to consider previous learning
  • Co-construct success criteria and post using anchor charts

Assessment as Learning

  • Continually prompt students to reflect on their work, orally and in writing
  • Encourage them to observe, reflect on and offer feedback to their peers
  • Ask students to describe their intentions as artists and to reflect on and justify their choices

Assessment of Learning

  • Co-constructed criteria communicated through rubrics used as tools to evaluate performances and other creative tasks.
Lesson 1: Looking at personal objects from multiple perspectives

Lesson Overview

In this lesson students will explore the stories behind personal objects that they will share with the class and will engage in some self-inquiry-based questioning in order to tell these stories from multiple perspectives. Students will also learn about the ways in which artifacts and objects in a museum collection are given identification and interpretative labels and will create appropriate labels for their own objects.  Students will then work collaboratively to curate their objects together into an exhibit and will explain the curatorial choices that they made in showing the interactions and connections between the artifacts and their choices for interpreting and presenting the stories behind them.

ADA 1O/2O: Dramatic Arts, Grade 9/10, Open:

Connections to Inquiry Learning

  • Students will develop a deeper understanding of their personal values and of each other's values as they proceed through the lesson.
  • Students will be able to discuss through conversation substantive ideas about values and the ethics of speaking “for” someone.
  • Students will regulate themselves in the classroom throughout the lesson as they stay on task, helping one another and contributing to activities.
  • Students will meet specific performance criteria through teacher and peer support and interaction.
  • Value of diversity and beliefs will be honoured throughout the lesson while the very idea of self and group identity is explored.
  • A variety of student generated materials are embedded in the lesson; students will bring their knowledge of the materials to connect to their peers, their school, their community and the world around them

‘Big Questions’ of this Lesson

  • What do artifacts tell us about people or peoples?
  • What other stories do artifacts tell?
  • What forms of drama might we use to share those stories?
  • What might individual artifacts combine to create in a museum?
  • How can the stories behind the artifacts change depending on who has had possession of the object at a particular time?
  • What elements of the artifact are most useful in helping us to tell stories about them?
  • Considering that objects can tell or reveal different stories at different time periods, considering the contexts in which they are created, and the purposes for which they are used, how many stories can be told from different perspectives about particular objects?

Curriculum Expectations

Grade 9 Specific Expectations

A1. The Creative Process
  • A1.1 use a variety of print and non-print sources to generate and focus ideas for drama activities and presentations
  • A1.2 select and use appropriate forms to suit specific purposes in drama works
  • A1.3 use role play to explore, develop, and represent themes, ideas, characters, feelings, and beliefs in producing drama works
B1. The Critical Analysis Process
  • B1.3 identify aesthetic and technical aspects of drama works and explain how they help achieve specific dramatic purposes
B2. Drama and Society
  • B2.2 explain how dramatic exploration can contribute to personal growth and self-understanding
B3. Connections Beyond the Classroom
  • B3.1 identify specific collaborative skills and attitudes that are required in preparing and staging drama works and explain how they can be applied in other fields or activities
  • B3.2 identify specific social skills and personal characteristics they have acquired or strengthened through drama work that can help them succeed in other areas of life

Drama, Grade 10 ADA2O Specific Expectations

A1. The Creative Process
  • A1.2 select and use appropriate forms to present identified issues from a variety of perspectives
B3. Connections Beyond the Classroom
  • B3.1 identify and describe skills, attitudes, and strategies they used in collaborative drama activities
  • B3.2 identify skills they have developed through drama activities and explain how they can be useful in work and other social contexts
C1. Concepts and Terminology
  • C1.1 identify the drama forms, elements, conventions, and techniques used in their own and others’ drama works, and explain how the various components are used, or can be used, to achieve specific effects, with a focus on ensemble drama works
C2. Contexts and Influences
  • C2.1 identify ways in which dramatic expression and performance reflect communities and cultures, past and present
  • C2.2 describe how drama is used for various purposes in a range of social contexts

Learning Goals

By the end of the lesson, students will:

  • identify the use of dramatic conventions that can shape a drama work
  • discuss the experience of displaying their lives and seeing the lives of others displayed through objects
  • explain the context in which objects can be viewed through different lenses and the conclusions one can make about those objects, depending on their life experiences
  • independently display, order and label objects for others to see and view
  • identify and apply the criteria for creating effective inquiry based questions.
  • explain the differences and similarities they have with one another and as a group

Instructional Components and Context

Readiness

Students will need to understand that objects can tell stories. The teacher may model by bringing in a personal belonging that tells an unusual, interesting, or significant story (for example, teacher may use a ring as an example. Discuss its aesthetic qualities at first, then have the students guess its meaning or significance, followed by the teacher’s revelation of the true meaning of the object and why they chose to bring in this item. Using this example, questions to extend student inquiry might include: Why is a ring used to demonstrate commitment, for example? Can a ring be used merely as decoration? Why is it a circle? What is it made from? Who made it? How was it acquired?

Discuss the term “artifact” and how the ring (for example) might be found, observed, and interpreted by someone who found it in the future.

Terminology

  • Soundscape
  • Artifact (an object, often artwork, that holds special meaning, purpose, or significance)

Materials

Lesson Plan

Minds On

Whole class > Machine

Instruct students to stand in a circle. Students enter the circle, one at a time, and perform a small, machine-like movement. After the first student enters the middle of the circle and performs their movement, each subsequent student who enters is to add to the “machine.”  Instruct students that they should be connected in some way to the previous students who entered the circle. The finished creation is a whole-class “machine”, with each student forming a part of the whole. Continue creating new “machines” as time and interest permit.

Extension

Divide the class into two groups and have an “expert interpreter” (a student from without the group) attempt to decipher the function of the machine and its various “parts”.

Teacher prompts: What could this machine be doing? Who created it? What can we observe from each individual part? Can you create a brief story that explains what we’re seeing?

Create as many machines as needed, or have different students offer different interpretations of what they see.  Debrief the exercise with the class.

Key Questions for Discussion:

What was it like to be part of the machine?
How did the parts fit together?
What was the look and sound of the overall “machine”
Do we notice how individual parts form to create a new “whole”

Connections

This opening activity can be used to guide discussion on how we are all part of a collective, that different parts can create a new whole (leading up to the Aga Khan collection of art - some artifacts evolved beyond when they were originally made). As precious objects were added over time, sometimes the objects took on new forms, function, and meaning. An example of this can be seen in “The Opliphant” from the AKM. The Oliphant (AKM809) started with an ivory horn which was carved in Sicily or southern Italy, with images derived from Fatimid court culture, and iconographic style, and then had mounts added in Britain in the 17th century.

Intertwined, paintings depict multiple scenes and various subjects to form the whole artwork. The paintings were generally not pieced together like a puzzle to create a new whole, but multiple artists might be involved in the creation of a single work, with one person working on borders, another on calligraphy, and another on the central painting. All those elements contribute to creating a whole piece of art. Further, knowledge, materials and aesthetics travelled along the silk routes influencing what art looked like.

Differentiation

Each student, in addition to creating a movement in the “machine”, can also create a machine-like sound - buzzes, whirrs, clicks, clangs, etc..

Soundscape is possible here as well.

Whole Class > Exploring personal objects as “artifacts” to be placed in a museum.

Ask students to bring in a personal item from home that they feel would be interesting to discuss in class as a “show and tell” activity. The item will be referred to as an “artifact” to introduce the concept of artifacts at the Aga Khan Museum. They may choose any item that is significant to them, but they may also be invited to bring an artifact that would require them to explain its significance.

For each item, hold a teacher-led discussion without having its owner reveal anything about what they have chosen to bring in.

Key Questions for Discussion

What does the artifact look like? (identify specifics without assessing its use, purpose, or what exactly it is)
What does the artifact feel like? (texture, weight, shape, etc.)
What does it “sound” like (a little more abstract thinking may be required for this question - does stone have a sound?)
What, from what we have observed, do we think is the artifact’s purpose, function, or use?
What does the artifact tell us?
How old do we think the artifact is?
Why would this artifact be of importance or significance to its owner?
What might the artifact tell us about its owner?

Ask students complete a writing-in-role assignment focusing on bringing another artifact to life by giving it a voice and writing in character using these writing prompts:

Writing Prompts

Choose another artifact in existence, or from your life, that you feel has an interesting back story.

  1. Brainstorm: Imagine the artifact could speak. What do you think it might say about its life and times? Who owns/owned it? Why did they have it?
  2. Write a paragraph in the “voice” of the artifact. Be sure to consider time, place, and the artifact’s purpose, use, or meaning. Make connection between artifact and the people who own it, or created it.

Students may peer edit, and then share their piece in small groups, or in front of the class as a performance opportunity. Alternatively, the teacher may choose to have students perform each other’s writing-in-role, and not the one they have written themselves.

Connections

This activity introduces the concept of artifacts, asks students to use observational skill, and interpretation. This can be related to curation, or anthropological study, where artifacts are discovered, observed, studied, and interpreted.

The opportunity to write in role supports exploration of perspective, while the performance option also permits the chance to use voice, gesture, staging and physical choices to convey role.

Extension

A whole-class discussion may be used to see if connections can be made between each of the student artifacts. Much like the museum collection, do the combined artifacts tell a story about the people who owned them, used them, or created them?

Action!

Whole class > Creating Identification Labels

This section is designed for the students to reveal the true nature, context, purpose, use, or significance of the “artifacts” they brought from home.

Students are to create and present “museum labels” for their personal artifacts based on the format of Type 1 Museum Labels. These can be found online at https://www.agakhanmuseum.org/collection. To access the Type 1 Museum Label information, click the “Details” button below each image - the Identification Label screen then provides Interpretive information.

The Identification Labels provide basic information about the artifact/object including:

  1. Name
  2. Age
  3. Place of manufacture/creation
  4. Name of the museum/institution that owns it
  5. An artifact number (this can be created by the students as some form of representative number pertaining to their personal artifact.)

Use BLM #5 - Artifact-Museum Object Blank Labels as a template for creating labels. Use BLM #6 - Labelling Artifacts/Objects in a Museum Collection to help students understand more about Museum labelling.  

Put students in small groups and ask them to share the story of their personal artifacts.

Finally, place the artifacts around the room with their accompanying labels. Have students perform a “museum walk” around the room to observe and read about each artifact. Post the following checklist on chart paper or on the board for students to use while they set up their artifacts:

  • Are your objects in one area of the room?
  • Have you placed your objects in a specific order?
  • Have you placed your objects in a specific location in relation to your other objects?
  • Have you filled out five labels, completely, for each object?
  • Are you labels affixed to an area near each object?
  • Can a guest at your exhibit read your label clearly and see the object fully?

Conduct a whole group discussion on how the connection of all of the student’s artifacts might tell a story about them as a group (each part joining to form a collective exhibition).

Extension

Students may introduce and discuss a partner’s artifact as opposed to their own.

Sharing can be done in partners, or as an entire class.

Take pictures of artifacts instead of bringing them into the classroom physically. Either print photos, or use projector and create slideshow of artifacts.

Connections

  • Connect the importance of some of the objects in their lives with the way they may be interpreted (or misinterpreted) now and in the future.
  • Connections may be made between personal artifacts and the artifacts found in the Aga Khan Museum collection.
  • Connect the class discussion on how artifacts might be used to tell a story about the students as a group, and how the Aga Khan Museum’s artifacts might tell a story about Muslim Civilizations.
Assessment for learning
  • Offer feedback to students on the level of detail and specificity of their observations of each artifact.
  • Guide discussion looking ahead to more in-depth inquiry of the Aga Khan Museum’s collection of artifacts.
  • Discuss the importance of being respectful of the artifacts of others.
Assessment as learning
  • Students provide feedback to one another on their sharing.
  • Students will debate and discuss the artifacts that are presented to them.
Lesson 2: Inquiry, Intersections and Interrelationships-in Islamic Art and Architecture

Exploring shapes, patterns and designs using movement and embodied self and collaborative inquiry

Lesson Overview

In this lesson students will engage in games and activities in order to learn about the shapes, patterns and designs used in Islamic art, in particular relating to the creation of mosaics and designs that demonstrate the interactions and interrelationships between shapes. Using a guided inquiry model students will create a movement piece working with different shapes and exemplars of mosaics found in objects in the Aga Khan museum collection and will share these as part of kaleidoscope dance/movement cipher. They will also use embodied inquiry throughout the lesson which will help them to use their bodies to generate questions, conduct research, and use the results of their inquiries to create a collaborative performance piece using the elements of dance.

Connections to Inquiry Learning

  • Students will develop a deeper understanding of the symbolic use of shapes, patterns and designs in Islamic art and architecture throughout the lesson using guided inquiry strategies and some independent academic research.  
  • Students will be able to discuss through conversation the themes of intersections, interrelationships in the art. Intersections refer to the ways in which shapes connect with each other in a pattern and interrelationships refers to the ways in which the shapes overlap with each other in the patterning. See examples in: http://britton.disted.camosun.bc.ca/Islamic_Art_and_Geometric_Design.pdf
  • Students will identify different geometric shapes found in authentic examples of Islamic art found through their inquiry-based research in the Aga Khan Main gallery and/or digital collection (including floor tiles, mosaics, arabesques and fountains, as well as ornamentations). Through their analysis and inquiry-based analysis work they will consider the ways in which these shapes, patterns and designs both intersect and interrelated.
  • Students will use embodied inquiry to explore the ways in which these shapes can be represented through movements (a series of lines making different pathways in different directions with specific points of departure and of arrival).
  • Students will work with a series of geometric shapes (circles, triangles, squares, pentagons, octagons) and create short individual and collaborative movement pieces which replicate patterns and designs found in these mosaics.
  • Students will regulate themselves in the classroom throughout the lesson as they stay on task, helping one another and contributing to activities.
  • Students will meet specific performance criteria through teacher and peer support and interaction.
  • Value of diversity and beliefs will be honoured throughout the lesson while the very idea of self and group identity is explored.
  • A variety of student generated materials are embedded in the lesson; students will bring their knowledge of the materials to connect to their peers, their school, their community and the world around them.

‘Big Questions’ of this Lesson

  1. What is Islamic art? In what forms is it produced? For what purposes is it used?
  2. What are the historical origins of the use of geometric shapes and patterns used in Islamic art and architecture?
  3. Why are these shapes and patterns used in Islamic art (for example in mosaics, arabesques, tiles, on the folios of the Qur’an)? Students will develop a deeper understanding of the symbolic use of shapes, patterns and designs in Islamic art and architecture throughout the lesson.
  4. What can be learned from an exploration of intersections and interrelationships in these patterns which is representative of the ways in which over time artistic knowledge was transmitted between different cultures and different parts of the Islamic world?
  5. How does Islamic art reflect the cultural, social, political and economic contexts in which it was produced and/or used?

Curriculum Expectations

Grade 9 Specific Expectations

A1. The Creative Process
  • A1.1 use a variety of print and non-print sources to generate and focus ideas for drama activities and presentations
  • A1.2 select and use appropriate forms to suit specific purposes in drama works
  • A1.3 use role play to explore, develop, and represent themes, ideas, characters, feelings, and beliefs in producing drama works
B1. The Critical Analysis Process
  • B1.3 identify aesthetic and technical aspects of drama works and explain how they help achieve specific dramatic purposes
B2. Drama and Society
  • B2.2 explain how dramatic exploration can contribute to personal growth and self-understanding
B3. Connections Beyond the Classroom
  • B3.1 identify specific collaborative skills and attitudes that are required in preparing and staging drama works and explain how they can be applied in other fields or activities
  • B3.2 identify specific social skills and personal characteristics they have acquired or strengthened through drama work that can help them succeed in other areas of life

Drama, Grade 10 ADA2O Specific Expectations

A1. The Creative Process
  • A1.2 select and use appropriate forms to present identified issues from a variety of perspectives
B3. Connections Beyond the Classroom
  • B3.1 identify and describe skills, attitudes, and strategies they used in collaborative drama activities
  • B3.2 identify skills they have developed through drama activities and explain how they can be useful in work and other social contexts
C1. Concepts and Terminology
  • C1.1 identify the drama forms, elements, conventions, and techniques used in their own and others’ drama works, and explain how the various components are used, or can be used, to achieve specific effects, with a focus on ensemble drama works
C2. Contexts and Influences
  • C2.1 identify ways in which dramatic expression and performance reflect communities and cultures, past and present
  • C2.2 describe how drama is used for various purposes in a range of social contexts

Learning Goals

By the end of the lesson, students will:

  • Be able identify the use of dramatic and dance conventions that can shape a drama work with movement
  • discuss the shapes, patterns and design of Islamic art and architecture, as well as their intersections and interrelationships as displayed through patterns found on arabesques, in mosaics, in fabrics and features of buildings in the Islamic world.
  • identify different geometric shapes found in authentic examples of Islamic art found in the Aga Khan Main gallery and/or digital collection (including floor tiles, mosaics, arabesques and fountains, as well as ornamentations).
  • Use embodied inquiry to explore the ways in which geometric shapes can be represented through movements to show the process by which mosaics are created and put together
  • create short individual and collaborative movement pieces using a series of geometric shapes and flocking which replicate patterns and designs found in these mosaics.

Instructional Components and Context

Readiness

Students need to be able to listen and respond appropriately in the setting of the drama classroom.

Students need to have had some experience both individually and collaboratively doing movement work using some of the Elements of Dance (Body, Energy, Space, Time, Relationships and related movements). See Anchor Chart for the Elements of Dance.

Teachers may also wish to consult the CODE resource, "Exploring Dance Elements"  which breaks down the elements into body, space, pattern, time and energy and would be a great resource for reference and understanding these terms.

Students should have some knowledge of drama conventions connected to ensemble work and and teacher coaching to participate in the lesson.

If teachers wish to show students some videos that outline effective ways of working with movement, please check out the following links from the National in London:

This lesson could be done over three or more classes depending on the number of extensions the teacher chooses to include in this lesson and the comfort of the students in rehearsing and presenting a collaborative movement piece.

Terminology

Materials

Lesson Plan

Minds On

Whole Class > Warm-up Option 1: My Body Makes This Shape...

The purpose of this activity is to have students warm-up their bodies and to become familiar with the ways in which they can use parts of their bodies to make particular geometric shapes.

Gather the students in a large circle and ask them to stand.

Explain that for the warm-up they are going to explore the ways in which they can use their bodies as a whole as well as specific parts of their bodies to make movements (Connected to the Body element of Dance using Body Parts (head, torso, shoulder, arms, fingers, elbows, legs, knees, feet, ankles etc. and Shapes that are curved, straight, angular, twisted, narrow, wide, symmetrical, asymmetrical).

Ask students to stand at least arms-width apart so that they have enough space to move.  Instruct students to listen closely to the instructions and individually move/create based on them.

Begin with easier movements and gradually increase the complexity of the movements throughout the exercise.

Encourage students to explore the diverse ways in which they could use their bodies throughout this activity while creating their movements.

Teacher Prompts

In order to facilitate the progression of the movements, the teacher will start with the whole body and then have students use different parts of their bodies to explore the shape making in different ways.

Circles

  1. Use your whole body to make a circle.
  2. Make a circle with your right leg.
  3. Make a circle with your pinky finger.
  4. Make a circle with your hips.
  5. Make a circle with your knees.

Squares

  1. Use your whole body to make a square.
  2. Use your left hand to make a square.
  3. Use your head to make a square.
  4. Use your right ankle to make a square.
  5. Use your shoulders to make a square.

Triangle

  1. Use your whole body to make a triangle.
  2. Use your big toe to make a triangle.
  3. Use your left elbow to make a triangle.
  4. Use your right thumb to make a triangle.
  5. Use your head to make a triangle.
Debrief questions:  

This could be written as as journal entry or done as part of a class discussion
Which of the shapes did you find easiest to make?
Which of the shapes did you find most interesting to create?
Which of the shapes did you find most challenging to create?
Which part of the body did you use that you are most comfortable creating with?
Which part of the body was the most challenging for you and that you would want to explore creating with.

Whole Class > Option 2 Warm-Up: A Walk through the Shapes

Ask students to find a space in the room as their point of departure. When told they will begin moving about the room based on a particular shape that the teacher calls out. (Based on Jonathon Neelands’ strategy Walk, Walk, Walk)

Example Teacher Prompts:

Move in a square making 4 straight lines (vertical and horizontal only), turning at right angles until the square is complete
Move in a circle, making a continuous rounded-line until they come back to the exact spot in which they started;
Move on a diagonal to make a 3 pointed triangle.
Move using a series of straight and angled lines in the shape of an octagon (8 sided)

Throughout the activity, ask the students to pause and begin making a different shape and take off from a point of departure while moving in a different direction from the way in which they previously travelled.

Teacher may want to remind students of the drama and dance concepts of:

Spatial aspects

  • Traveling - any path (straight, circular, meandering, curving) moving from one place to another.
  • Direction - movement into different directions (up, down, to the right, to the left, forward, backward)

Movement Intention:

  • Destination - Statement of an ending situation, position or state to be reached (before the next shape is called out)

Warn students to be careful not to run into one another, but to pay attention to the points at which the lines that they are making using their movements, either intersect or interrelate with the lines of other students.

Tell students that when they cross lines with another student, they are to pause in their movement and are to greet the person saying “peace” or perhaps in Arabic, a traditional greeting “As-Salaam-Alaikum," meaning "Peace be unto you."

As the students walk around they should be changing directions, creating their own patterns and seeing how they might intersect or interrelate their movements with other students shapes.

Extension

Add a speed element to this activity. Prompt the students to walk at a level ‘3’ at a level ‘7’. This will be helpful in showing students how speed can impact the movement and patterns they are creating.

Key questions for Discussion:

How does it feel to move in the shape of a circle?
How does it feel to move in the shape of a triangle?
How does it feel to move in the shape of a square?
How did it feel when your embodied lines intersected with another student? How did you negotiate the sharing of space?
How many times did you greet other students? How did it feel to make that connection and to share the offering of a greeting of peace? How did this change or shift your understanding, connection or appreciation of the exercise.
What kinds of intersections did you find yourself in while moving around the room as in the movement of the shape?  How did it feel to make these intersections/connections? If you didn’t make many clear intersections or connections how did that make you feel?

Connections

Connections

These warm-up activities are meant to help students explore shape-making using individual body-storming/embodied inquiry.

Differentiation

Provide additional work time for students with different learning needs. Give instructions orally and in writing as required. Modify inquiry-based questions to support students in doing more foundational questioning or to conduct more in-depth research. Use guided modelling and have students mirror the shapes, movements and patterns you are creating at first and then allow for more independent work. Have students work in small groups to scaffold students who may find the movements to be challenging.

Whole Class > The making of a Mosaic

Present to students an overview of the historical background and geometric shapes, patterns and designs used in Islamic Art and in showing images from the Aga Khan collection or from other examples so that the students can identify the different shapes, patterns and designs within them.  See BLM #9 - Backgrounder on Works of Art in the Aga Khan Museum, BLM #7 - Understanding some of the Symbolism of Geometric Shapes in Islamic Art, and BLM #10 - Artifacts from the Aga Khan Digital Collection

Small Groups > A Flocking of Shapes

The purpose of this activity is for students to work at first individually and then collaboratively in order to create movement pieces using flocking that represent the development of a mosaic using different shapes.

To begin this activity the  teacher will give each student one of four shapes - a circle, a triangle, a square or a polygon. The students will keep the shape they have been given through the different tasks in this activity.

Explain to the students that they will have 5 minutes to body storm different ways in which they can use their bodies to move in the the shape that they have been given.  Have the students find their own spaces in order to do this individual creative work.

Instruct students to get into groups based on the shape that they have been given. (This would mean 3-5 people with the same shape in each group). Ask the students to work together to create a 60 second movement piece using the dance strategy of flocking that combines the ideas that they came up with in their body storming and which embodies/demonstrates the ways in which the shape that they have been assigned moves.  Provide students with BLM #11 - Flocking of Shapes - Checklist of Movement Vocabulary to help them explore and set a piece to perform for the class.

Have students share with the class what they have created using their flocking movements.

Each student will take a turn taking the lead and the others will follow their lead in moving the ways in their shape would move.

Students may also want to experiment with the ideas of interrelationships and intersections, in particular in the transitions from one leader to another. The idea of interrelationships refers to how the shapes can physically connect with one another in order to create a  new shape or a combined shape. The intersection refers to how shapes  cross over one another when physically moving. Like two paths crossing over the other, in a way.  

Assess the performances using BLM #12 - Flocking the Shapes Performance Rubric

Small Groups > Activity: Mirror, Mirror… Broken Mirror… Mirror Mirror… Piece (Peace) it back together

The purpose of this activity is for students to now collaborate with other shapes in order to create a new movement piece using the concept of a mirror/broken mirror to explore ideas of symmetry which exist in the more free patterns found in Islamic art.

The activity will also allow for students to “play” with asymmetry and explore what happens when the mirror breaks its form. They will show how the fragmented pieces of the mirror can in fact ultimately be pieced back together to recreate unity of composition, similar to the ways in which pieces of a mosaic are fit back together and reassembled.

The teacher may want to review with the students the following connections in doing this mirror work.

  • Symmetrical Position: A symmetrical position is identical on the right and left sides of the body. It looks and feels stable, balanced and resolved. Think of a pyramid, or mirror image.
  • Symmetrical Sequence: A symmetrical sequence is one in which movements to the right are mirrored by movements to the left, and vice versa.
  • Asymmetrical Position: By contrast, an asymmetrical position is different on the right and left sides of the body. It suggests mobility and potential loss of balance. Think of actions that are unstable, lopsided or unbalanced.
  • Spatial Patterns: Spatial patterns, like body shapes, may display symmetry or asymmetry, suggesting stability and equilibrium versus irregularity and imbalance

Group the students into fours, and in combinations of shapes (ex. 2 circles with 2 squares, or 2 polygons with 2 triangles etc).

Tell students to keep in mind the types of shapes that they created in the previous activity, instruct them to make an image of symmetry. Ask them to stand in pairs (one of each shape on each side) and work together to improvise a series of mirrored movements.  The symmetry will work well when the movements are mirrored in shape as well as in timing.

After 60 seconds instruct one of the pairs to symbolically, and in a swift movement “break the mirror.” This will then create a shift in the “mirror” which will now “throw off” the symmetry.  This means that the pairs will shift their movements so that they will no longer be symmetrical and they will shift together to create asymmetry.  Tell students that when this happens, movements can start to go in opposite directions, timing can be off, movements can become exaggerated in size, shifts can happen in levels and the mirror can change its position in the space, the tempo/speed can increase or decrease etc.  All of this symmetry and asymmetry work is part of the experimentation of playing with design.

Note: This activity can be done with a common piece of music. It can then be decided by the students in listening to the music, at what point the “mirror will break.”

After another 60 seconds, instruct the opposite set of pairs to symbolically say “Peace” and the pairs will use a series of improvised moves to work their way gradually back from movements of asymmetry to movements of symmetry again in the mirror.

Key Questions for Discussion

Ask students to reflect on the concept of unity of source, diversity of expression in creating their flocking piece.

How did your movement piece show a sense of unity?
At what points were these movements more noticeable than others?
How did you work together as a collective to embody the senses of shape, pattern and design when the different leaders were leading?
Did you face any challenges when considering each of your diverse interpretations of the shapes and means of expression? How did you work together to resolve these challenges? Explain.

Ask students to reflect upon the process and the experience of mirroring the symmetry of the movements with their shapes and compare and contrast that with what happens with the symbolic “breaking of the mirror” which symbolizes a break in form.

What strategies did you use in order to ensure that there was a clear sense of symmetry?
How did this sense of balance and mirroring shift when the mirror was broken? How did your movements change?
What modifications did you make to your mirror to represent and reflect asymmetry?

Finally ask students to reflect in a written response about the following:

  • The concepts of unity and disunity and how in shifting their experimentation with mirror work this can be likened to the experience of how one shifts and moves from a situation of peace and harmony to one of conflict and discord
  • Students are to draw upon their creative process and decision making in this movement piece and use this as evidence for their reflection here.
  • They will then consider how collaboration can and must be used to overcome and work through a challenge of  piecing the broken mirror back together in representation peacemaking and/or reconciliation.  
  • They will also explain the role that they can play as individuals and as a collective in doing this work of reconciliation as people and in particular as artists-dramatists and dancers.

Connections:

This activity connects to the first lesson on storytelling, in looking at diversity of expression. It allows students to consider commonalities and differences in the interpretations of stories and also provides an embodied look at experiences of calm and symmetry and also conflict/fragmentation and asymmetry and the need to work in collaboration to piece/peace back together the fragmented pieces of the mosaic/components of the story.

Differentiation

The mirrored movements here can be done seated or standing and can consist of varying tempos and levels in order to meet the movement abilities of all group members. Students may be grouped in order to scaffold students in doing this collaborative work.

Assessment for learning:

Students will be assessed for learning by teacher observation of the creative use of their bodies to make particular shapes (circles, squares, triangles) using various parts of their body and also for their abilities to move in patterns relating to the shapes. This assessment will be done during the two Mind’s On Activities.

Assessment as learning

Students will be assessed for their ability to work both individually in bodystorming and collaboratively to create a performance of movements of shapes using their bodies and the movement strategy of flocking.

Assessment of learning

Students will present their Flocking of Shapes movement piece to the class and will be evaluated on their use of the elements of dance and abilities to work collaboratively to show intersections and interrelationships using similar and different shapes. Their work will be evaluated on a rubric.

Action!

Small Group > Creating a Dance Map

Students will work with shapes/patterns and designs which represents the concepts of intersection and interrelationships found in mosaics, tessellations and arabesques in Islamic art.

In continuing with our shape, design and patterning work in this lesson, this summative performance task will involve students working both individually and collaboratively to create a series of movements and combinations which they will share as part of a circular dance taking place within a cypher. “A dance cypher is the area of the dance floor that is open to those who wish to dance in it. A cypher is also a sacred space to those who build and partake in them, thus, every cypher has rules.” These rules include:

  • No unwanted physical contact.
  • There is a time limit.
  • Generally one person at a time, but there is flexibility in this if two or more dancers consent to dance with each other.
  • A space must be filled and held.
  • A cypher’s edge must only be occupied by its participants.
  • There are no props allowed.
  • Everyone in the cypher must respect the vibe

Source: https://medium.com/cuepoint/9-dance-cipher-rules-no-one-ever-told-you-7ad4cd1817d8#.tog757485

Put students into groups of 5, ‘jigsaw style’ with one student from each shape group (circle, square, triangle, polygon, octagon). These can be cut out from BLM #8 - Shapes and students can select or the teacher can assign to the students randomly.

Instruct students to create a movement piece wherein each student will move according to their shape, and will combine their work to create a series of intersections and interrelationships with the other shapes. Considerations of the Elements of Dance (Movement, Body, Energy, Space, Time and Relationship) must be taken into account in the creation of the piece.

Students are to be given time individually to bodystorm how they might connect with the other shapes and then will be invited to work collaboratively with their other team members to create a composition.  It might be useful to introduce a series of conditions here, based on the level of knowledge and experience of the students with movement.

In order to shape the performance piece, instruct students to work together to create a Dance Map which will enable them to plot out and map out the beginning, middle and ending of their piece; help to see the direction and trajectory of their work and to work out the types of levelling, shapes and number of beats to sustain a particular movement.

Ask each student to begin by creating their own Dance Map which after practice and rehearsal will be combined into one larger Dance Map that will include the movements of all group members

Give each student a piece of chart paper or a piece of 11x 17 paper as well as a pencil/crayon/marker.

  1. Ask the student to first draw three points (dots) anywhere on the paper.
  2. Next, ask the students to draw a pathway that is not a straight line but that will connect the three points.
  3. Ask the students to label the three points “beginning,” “middle,” and “end”.
  4. Then along the pathway, mark 5 other places using hash marks (||).
    1. Underneath each set of hash marks, write the following:
      1. a level (high, medium, low),
      2. the type of movement that will be embodied (to represent the shape that the is the student’s focus for this task),
      3. and a number between 1 and 8 (representing the numbering of beats)

In doing this drawing, the student has mapped out their individual dance.

Individual and Small Group > Kaleidoscope Cipher of Shapes

Now in an open space, have students walk the pathway as it is shown on their paper.  

Ask the students to walk the pathway a second time in order to commit the pathway and its components to memory. Students should ensure that they are beginning and ending at the correct places they have drop and that the direction of their movements is identical to what they have drawn.

Ask the students to walk the pathway a third time, noticing this time where the hashtags are which indicate a pause and the number 1-8 will indicate the number of seconds the student will stay in that space, and based on what they wrote on their map, what embodied shape that they will make here.

Instruct students to combine their individual maps in their groups to create one large map or combined map which will begin to illustrate the points of intersection and the interrelationships that they are making together while in the cipher.

Have students in their groups repeat steps their choreography and experiment with tempo, musical accompaniment etc. All in all the movement piece will represent a kaleidoscope and will show the ways in which shapes interact with each other to create patterns and unified designs (similar to those of a mosaic).

Once the groups have rehearsed and have modelled their work for the class, invite all the groups to begin by standing in a large circle. Based on the departure points of the students in their movement pieces, they may choose to stand side by side or at different points around the circle.

Invite each student one by one to step inside of the circle to identify their presence and commitment to being part of a unified cipher in the circle.  Ask them to take turns crossing the circle and in doing so offer peace to the group who will be sharing in the unity of source and the diversity of expression in the cipher.

Once every student has travelled through the space, the cipher is ready to begin. With the students, determine the order in which the groups will share their work in the centre of the cipher. Inform them that a group’s movement piece has ended in a “freeze” and will signify a transition to the next group.

As the movements are going on in the centre of the cipher, each member on the outside of the circle should maintain a high degree of focus and energy in supporting the students in the piece both in spirit and in creating a unifying energy. Once the cipher has begun in the centre of the circle, the outside circle will slowly begin to move, in the same way that a kaleidoscope is twisted in order to initiate a shift in the shape, pattern and design of the corrected mosaic at its centre. The kaleidoscope will continue to move until all groups have performed in the centre of the circle.

Key Questions for Discussion

How did you feel being part of the cipher? Describe your emotions prior to going into the cipher, while in the cipher and after you completed your turn in the cipher.  
What strategies did you use in order to show diversity of expression both individually and with your group?
How useful did you find using your Dance Map in order to remember the sequence of your movements and the progression of your journey throughout the cypher?
How is doing this mindmapping for dance similar or different from the ways in which blocking is noted in drama, or how stage management notation is done to mark the positioning, movement and placement of performers, sets and props.
What collaborative strategies did you use with your group in order to show intersections, interrelationships, patterns, symmetry, asymmetry, tessellations?

Extension

Have the students complete an BLM #13 - Exit Card - Creating a Kaleidoscopic-Cipher Reflection

Connections

This activity is great preparation for the movement based work that students will be doing in Lesson 3 that asks them to tell the story behind an artifact from the Aga Khan Museum collection and how it came to have been acquired by the museum.

Students will have also worked sufficiently on using embodied inquiry to answer some of their questions about the ways in which they can use shapes to show how pieces of a mosaic come together and create patterns of intersection and relationships.

Students will also have reflected on the creative process and their performance based work through these guided-inquiry activities and should be ready to do some independent individual and collaborative inquiry-based work using both drama and dance strategies in lesson 3.

This work also introduces students to selected objects and artifacts in the Aga Khan collection which they will be working with in Lesson 3. Students will have had sufficient introduction to the element of design and characteristics of Islamic art as well.

Differentiation

All students should be able to participate in these movement activities and will choose to use their own bodies in ways that are comfortable and suited to their levels of mobility.

Students may be placed in multiple ability groups and teachers may offer side coaching and additional support by scaffolding students with a stronger foundation and background in movement-based work to support other learners.

Assessment for learning

Students will be assessed for their ability to move parts of their bodies and their entire selves in creating shapes, patterns and designs which reflect and represent the concepts of intersections, interrelationships and patterns as seen in exemplars of Islamic art.

Assessment as learning

Students will work both individually and in small groups to create a movement piece to be shared in dance cipher which represents the concept of a kaleidoscope of movements based on shapes and patterns.

Students will plan out their individual and collective works using an assignment of a Dance Map.

Assessment of learning

Students will present their movement pieces in a dance cipher which requires them to show how 5 different shapes can interact and interrelate in the ways in which a moving kaleidoscope does (likened to a shifting mosaic).

Students will complete an Exit Card as a reflective piece on their roles, contributions and emotional response while participating in the cipher.

Lesson 3: Telling the stories behind the objects in the Aga Khan Collection

Lesson Overview

In the final lesson of this unit, students synthesize their learning about objects and artifacts from multiple perspectives, about the labelling and curation of art pieces and about the geometric shapes, patterns and designs of Islamic art and objects in designing a collective creation of the stories behind several artifacts in the Aga Khan Museum collection from their creation to the acquisition as part of the museum. They will use drama and dance conventions to conduct independent inquiry into the the backstories behind the objects (how they were created, their purposes and uses, and how they journeyed from their places of origins to the museum today). Finally, students will engage in reflection in response to the question ‘What stories can be learned from the objects in the Aga Khan Museum collection and how is this helpful in increasing our understanding and appreciation of Islamic art, culture and values of Muslim societies around the world both in historical and contemporary contexts?

Connections to Inquiry Learning

  • Students will reflect upon the ‘big questions’ generated through the previous lessons on self-inquiry and guided inquiry, will synthesize their learning to create a final performance product that demonstrates a deep knowledge and understanding of the concepts and strategies studied in these lessons.
  • Students will engage in a series of inquiry-based activities using academic research, dramatic and dance skills, and current technology that elicit both independent and collaborative inquiry work to learn about some specific objects in the Aga Khan Museum collection and to identify ways in which the stories of these objects can be presented using effective drama and dance strategies.
  • Students will explore the background stories behind the creators/artists who made/created the objects and will use a variety of drama strategies to present the results of these inquiries.
  • Students will investigate both doing online research and embodied inquiry the process by which these objects were created/used and will present the results of their inquiries using elements of drama and dance
  • Students will be able to discuss through conversation about the themes of multiple perspectives, multiple intersections and multiple interrelationships in the art and objects.
  • Students will reflect metacognitively on what they have learned through the inquiry process.

Curriculum Expectations

Grade 9 Specific Expectations

A1. The Creative Process
  • A1.2 select and use appropriate forms to suit specific purposes in drama works
A3. Presentation Techniques and Technologies
  • A3.1 identify and use a variety of techniques or methods for establishing a rapport between performer and audience
  • A3.2 use a variety of expressive voice and movement techniques to support the depiction of character
B1. The Critical Analysis Process
  • B1.1 use the critical analysis process before and during drama projects to identify and assess individual roles and responsibilities in producing drama works.
B2. Drama and Society
  • B2.4 identify ways in which dramatic exploration promotes an appreciation of diverse cultures and traditions
C1. Concepts and Terminology
  • C1.2 use correct terminology to refer to the forms, elements, conventions, and techniques of drama
C3. Responsible Practices
  • C3.1 identify and follow safe and ethical practices in drama activities
  • C3.2 Identify and apply the skills and attitudes needed to perform various tasks and responsibilities in producing drama works

Drama, Grade 10 ADA2O Specific Expectations

A1. The Creative Process
  • A1.2 select and use appropriate forms to present identified issues from a variety of perspectives
A2. Elements and Conventions
  • A2.1 select and combine the elements of drama to achieve a variety of purposes in ensemble presentations
A3. Presentation Techniques and Technologies
  • A3.1 identify and use a variety of techniques to influence the audience in specific ways
  • A3.2 use a variety of voice and movement techniques to support the creation of character or atmosphere during rehearsal
B2. Drama and Society
  • B2.2 explain how dramatic exploration helps develop awareness of different roles and identities people have in society
  • B2.4 identify ways in which dramatic exploration contributes to their understanding of diverse cultures and traditions
B3. Connections Beyond the Classroom
  • B3.1 identify and describe skills, attitudes, and strategies they used in collaborative drama activities
C1. Concepts and Terminology
  • C1.1 identify the drama forms, elements, conventions, and techniques used in their own and others’ drama works, and explain how the various components are used, or can be used, to achieve specific effects, with a focus on ensemble drama works
C2. Contexts and Influences
  • C2.1 identify ways in which dramatic expression and performance reflect communities and cultures, past and present
  • C2.2 describe how drama is used for various purposes in a range of social contexts
C3. Responsible Practices
  • C3.1 identify and follow safe and ethical practices in drama activities
  • C3.2 identify and apply the skills and attitudes needed to perform various tasks and responsibilities in producing drama works

Learning Goals

By the end of the lesson, students will:

  • explore the stories behind the creators, the art, and design of objects from the Aga Khan Museum and use them as the basis for independent and collaborative dramatic and dance works
  • use the creative process to create performances in response to guiding questions and questions generated through independent inquiry.
  • use dramatic conventions (and some dance conventions), technology and interactivity to represent and communicate their experiences to an audience
  • view and reflect on the own performances, as well as those of their peers.

Instructional Components and Context

Readiness

Students will have already used their knowledge of working with personal artifacts and/or objects found in the Aga Khan Museum collection as well as their experience in order to tell stories from a variety of different perspectives and lens. They will also have knowledge and experience from the Machines activity in Lesson 1 in showing how an artifact was created. Students will have knowledge and experience of doing embodied inquiry activities in working with geometric shapes, patterns and designs in replicating and in exploring the creation of mosaics used in architecture, artifacts and other decorative pieces. Students will have worked both independently and in small groups in doing small performances using a combination of words, movements and expressions as part of their storytelling experiences, all of which will have prepared them for this summative independent-inquiry focussed task.

In this lesson, students’ learning will culminate in a final performance task. Students should feel safe and comfortable creating and presenting with one another, and have familiarity with the creative and critical analysis processes. Students should be prepared to work as part of a group while taking into consideration the importance of good citizenship, inclusivity and strategies for problem-based learning. Students should be able to demonstrate higher order thinking skills as researchers, curators and performers who can integrate knowledge and experiences from a variety of sources.

This lesson is designed to make use of technology and/or social media available to teachers and their students, and can be adapted accordingly. Similarly, the dramatic and dance performance tasks outlined in this lesson could be adapted to focus on dramatic and dance skills and techniques most appropriate for students.

‘Big Questions’ of this Lesson

  1. How can we select and develop useful inquiry-based questions that will help us to figure out the backstories behind the creators, users of the object (in its varied ways) and how the object came to be part of the Aga Khan Museum collection?
  2. What questions do I need to ask in order to find out more information about the object?  What resource materials (digital, museum-based etc) can help to answer questions connected to the independent/collaborative inquiry work?
  3. How can we use drama and dance strategies to track the journey of how artifacts came to be created, used, and ultimately arrive at the Aga Khan as part of their collection?
  4. Which drama and/or dance strategies are most useful in creating a performance-based piece using a combination of storytelling and movement in different formats?

Terminology

Materials

Lesson Plan

Minds On

Small Groups > A mosaic-tile of questions

Put students into groups of 4 or 5 for the purpose of creating independent collaborative learning groups to work with a specific artifact that is part of the Aga Khan Museum Collection.

Allow students to select one of the artifacts in BLM #10 - Artifacts from the Aga Khan Digital Collection as their focus for this entire lesson. Students will continue to work with this item.

Hand out the graphic organizer, BLM #14 - A Mosaic of Questions for Independent Inquiry for each student to complete.

Tell students they will first work individually at writing down on the worksheet inquiry-based questions that they have about the object relating to the following questions and will organize their questions in the particular shapes shown on the graphic organizer.

Questions relating to:

  • The Creation of the object--who made it and the process by which it was made (written inside the circles)
  • The purpose of the object-its function and use (may have changed over time) (written inside the squares)
  • The context (geographical/time/region) in which the object was created or used (written inside of the triangles)
  • How the object connects to our understanding of Islam and the Muslim world (mathematics, science, religion, the arts, etc.) (written inside of the pentagons)
  • How the object moved (journeyed/travelled/was passed on) from its location of origin to how it was acquired as part of the Aga Khan Museum collection. (written in the octagons) * Note that in some cases the origins may not be known - this may be used as an interesting point of discussion: Why might we not know the provenance of an object?

 

Once the students have completed their own questions, instruct students to meet up with their group members to share and to come up with a common set of questions for further inquiry and investigation.

 

In order to keep the inquiry “in the room” each group of students will place their graphic organizers (like a mosaic-place their worksheets together) on the walls of the classroom so that throughout the lesson they might be referred to, or added to, and also so that other students might be able to engage with and reflect upon how different groups have developed their inquiry-based questions of what types of information are required in order to find out the backstory and the journey of the object from its place of origin to its acquisition as part of the Aga Khan Museum Collection.

Connections

Connections

Teachers will have modelled how to create effective inquiry-based questions throughout the previous two lessons (relating to self- and guided-inquiry). Students will be able to draw upon their inquiry-based work by telling stories with their own personal objects from Lesson 1 and their work with embodied inquiry and use of shapes, patterns and designs in geometry in lesson 2.

Differentiation

Teachers can scaffold and support learners who have difficulty generating questions by using modelling of how to ask effective questions, beginning with the 5W and H (Who? What? When? Where? Why? And How?).

Students may be placed in mixed ability groupings in order to support each other in creating effective, high-order and inquiry-based questions.

Graphic organizers may be printed on larger pieces of paper and may also be completed in groups, rather than individually and then collectively.  

Small group > Inquiry-based learning stations

Key Questions for Discussion:

What artifacts might represent you as an individual? As a group? As a community? As a culture? As a society? Answer these questions when considering what types of objects or symbols found in your own culture represent who you are.
How can we make sure the stories we leave behind are accurate?
What can be analyzed or revealed about the collections of artifacts we hold on to and value in our lives?
What do artifacts tell us about cultures, societies, and peoples of various times in history?

Small Groups > Bringing Artifacts to Life

Divide the class into groups and allow them to choose how they wish to bring their artifacts to life.  Below are suggested forms:

Option 1: Building the Artifact

Students perform the process by which the artifact was built/created using movement and mime (as separate individuals, or as a connected group as in the “Machine” from Lesson 1)

Option 2: Soundscape

Here, students will perform for an audience of other students in the class who will lie in the centre of the room, with their eyes closed, while student performers surround them and create a soundscape based on an artifact, or multiple artifacts. The teacher should guide the entire process.

  • Have students find a space in the centre of the room where they can lie down comfortably on their backs
  • Ask students to concentrate on their breathing (or other relaxation technique)
  • Ask students to close their eyes (ensuring that they do not open them to look at each other)
  • Discuss with the students the way sounds can be associated with objects (rock might thud, a machine might buzz or clang, a painting might “speak”, etc.)
  • Have the performing students slowly begin making, and repeating, a single sound that they associate with the artifact they have been working with (whether from the production of the artifact, the time of its creation, the place it comes from, or the context of the artifact).
  • Allow the performance to last until the audience has had sufficient time to absorb the sounds and what they might mean (these sounds could be buzzes of saws, chiseling of stone, sloshing of paint, hammering metal, humming, words, song, or anything that they associate with some of the artifacts of study)
  • Student performers should “fade out” their sounds by slowing the repetition and lowering their volume until the group eventually returns to silence
  • Ask the audience to now open their eyes and sit up, while performers can also be seated
  • Ask students who were the audience to provide any feedback on what they heard, and the experience of the soundscape
Option 3: Monologue

Students may choose to create short monologues based on characters they envision from the time period of the artifact, the artifact’s use/purpose at the time, characters from a painting, etc., with a focus on storytelling.

Teacher prompts:  What might the story of this artifact be? What is the story of its owner? What might the life of its creator have been? Can you capture the voice of the artifact, its owner, or its creator? e.g. “From my spot on the shelf I can see the family who has owned me for three generations. Their home is humble. I am brought down on special occasions”, etc.

Option 4: Hot Seating - Artifact In Role

Students take on the “voice” of an artifact. Alone or in groups, students perform in-role, as their peers approach them to ask them questions. For a painting, for example, they might perform as characters from the work. Other artifacts would be given “human” voices. Questions of the various artifacts might be; Who are you? Where are you from? When were you found? Who made you? Why were you made? How did you end up here?

Option 5: Shadows

This is a mix of the Mirror-Mirror activity and flocking whereby students, in their small groups, line up (facing stage left or stage right) with the leader of the line creating movement that must be followed as closely as possible, and in unison. Movements should be performed slowly at first, and increase in complexity after practice. The goal is that the audience perceives the performance to be in unison. The line may end up physically moving about the room in train formation, or remain in place.

Extension:  Have students determine ways in which to change the leader (turning and facing the other way, for example).  Students may choose other ways to organize themselves, such as “flock” rather than stand in a line, or perform from different parts of the room (corners, for example) or on different levels (where possible).

Connections

This activity is used to bring the artifacts from the Aga Khan Museum to life in different ways, and to begin to tell the stories of the Museum’s artworks. Connections to Lesson 1 and 2 are made through discussion of geometry in the works, smaller parts that create a complex and beautiful whole, the reasons why these artworks are used in worship, etc..

The following quote comes from a modern day Islamic artist, when asked what Islamic Art means to her:

“Islamic art can be best described as a sacred art. It is an art that is made purely for the sake of spiritual and religious devotion and expression, rather than art that is used to express the artist’s own personal message or story. Traditionally the artist detaches himself from any praise or recognition of his work. Islamic art also embodies and expresses the teachings of Islam, whether it’s through more obvious forms such as calligraphy and miniature painting, or more abstract approaches through the use of geometry and arabesque. Islamic art has also been compared to a form of dhikr or a remembrance of God, which in turn is a form of worship in a much more creative manner.” -Dana Awartni

http://www.alartemag.be/en/en-art/the-crucial-role-of-geometry-in-islamic-art/

Connections will be made through discovery and discussion, between movement and performance pieces and the artwork and artifacts in the Aga Khan Museum collection (geometry, repetition, beauty, worship, peace, parts of the whole, etc.).

Through group discussion and teacher facilitation, a connection can also be made between repeated patterning and the concept of the “infinite”.

Where applicable (depending on artworks studied), connect to notions of symmetry, harmony, and structure. See: http://www.alartemag.be/en/en-art/the-crucial-role-of-geometry-in-islamic-art/

Differentiation

Different drama and dance techniques can be applied by students based on their preferences. Options to write, move, act, sing are offered and provide choice for students to make use of their interests and strengths.

Assessment for learning

Teacher observes and assists students at each stage of the creative process.

Teacher prompts: What aspects of the artifact are prominent and “jump out” that could be used as a starting point for the drama? How could these features be brought out in movement, sound, or story? How is your dramatic work reflective of the artifact, i.e., do we see pattern, repetition, or geometry? Does a painting represent a scene that we can enact? What does the Aga Khan Collection tell us about the artifact, and how can we demonstrate some of what we know about it? How does your performance reflect the nature, purpose, or story of the artifact?

Through discussion, the teacher and student uncover what has been learned and how to extend learning further.

Action!

Small Groups > Anthology

Students will work together to create a performance piece that tells the story of their selected artifact, its purpose, significance, and place in Islamic art.

First step - Initial Observations

Divide students into small groups. In their groups, instruct students use the artifacts they have worked with throughout. Ask them to examine and observe the artifact in the same way as they observed each other’s personal artifacts from Lesson 1.  Instruct them to make specific observations and tactile observations - if the artifact is a painting, students are to describe what they see in very specific detail without judging the work’s meaning - if the artifact is an object, they are to describe what they see, but also how the object might feel, how heavy it is, what textures they can observe, etc.

Second step - Research and Examination:

Tell students to examine the Interpretive Label (Details) that accompany their artifact. This label tells us what we know about the artifact. Where appropriate or needed, students may research to expand on the information provided in the label (with particular attention paid to the historical, social, political, economic, and cultural context.

Third step - Creation

Now that students have fully examined their chosen artifacts and have learned from the Interpretive Labels or Details (online), instruct them to create a dramatic performance that tells the story of the artifact based on the information they have learned, and filling in any information that they feel is missing, or could be added, to tell the story of the artifact (their creations might be a group performance, monologues/dialogues, narrated tableau, or story theatre, etc.) Each “story” should include conflict and resolution. Students may incorporate their work from prior investigations in the lesson, and edit them to have them merge with the current work.

Guiding prompts:

How will you begin  your Anthology? Why is the beginning so important?
How will you end your Anthology? Why is the ending so important?
What might you do to transition from one moment to the next?
Are there opportunities for music and/or sound?
Might we incorporate Choral Speaking in some way?

Use BLM #16 - Every Object Tells a Story Peer Feedback Form to help peers assess each other’s work and allow for the opportunity to improve upon the work.

Fourth step - Presentation

Have students present each of their works.

Fifth step: Reflection

Lead a discussion on what the class, as an audience, understood about the artifacts from the performances. The presenters can then, as needed, explain the performance and discuss the “story” of the artifact.

Teacher prompts: What did we learn about the artifact? What story did the performers tell about the artwork and its origins/purpose? How does the presentation inform us about Islamic art? What can the performers add in post-performance about the meaning of their story?

Extension: Ask students to find ways to connect each of the works (much like the “Machine” activity from Lesson 1). Working collaboratively, task students with creating a whole-class performance that unites the various parts of performance created in the smaller groups.

Key Questions for Discussion

Is it important to share stories of you and your world? Why?
Who is responsible for your story when you are not here?
What have we learned, overall, about the culture from which the artifacts originate?
How do the stories from each performance bring the artifact to life?

Connections

This lesson is designed to highlight various artifacts from the Aga Khan Museum collection, staying with the theme that every object tells a story, while also making connections between self and others, between cultures, and highlighting the theme of parts forming the whole (reflected in many of the artworks in the collection).

Differentiation

Group students with more experience in drama with others who are less experienced.

Different learning modalities are accommodated by the wide variety of performance tasks (auditory in the soundscape, tactile and kinesthetic in movement pieces, visual in learning from other performances, etc.

Groups present to each other, rather than to the entire class.

Assessment for learning

Students reflect on their own, and each other’s performances.

Feedback can be oral or written. Teacher Prompts: What did they like about their performances? Where were they successful in portraying the artifact and its story? In what ways could they add to the performance?

Assessment as learning

Students will choose the manner in which to convey their story.

Self-monitoring

Collaboration

Students assess the direction of their performance. Will it convey what they hope? What feedback did they receive from peers? Use BLM #16 - Every Object Tells a Story Peer Feedback Form to help peers assess each other’s work.

Assessment of learning

Assessment of this summative task in the unit using BLM #15 - Performance Rubric is focused on dramatic skill in performance, the quality of storytelling within the performance, and quality of connections to the Aga Khan Museum artifacts demonstrated.