Your Way Begins on the Other Side: Exploring Notions of Community and Culture through Drama and Dance in the Elementary Classroom

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.

Context

In this unit, students and teacher will use artifacts from the permanent collection at the Aga Khan Museum as a jumping off point to explore the themes of personal narratives, journies, community, transmission of culture and creating community. Choral Speaking, Tableau, Role Playing and Dance exercises will be used to explore the Muslim diaspora. The culminating task in this unit will have students work in role to create a gathering space for their community.

This unit can be used as a means of introducing the elements of dance, choral speaking, tableau or role play. This unit can be adapted for use in any elementary classroom, but is intended to complement the grade 2 and 4 social studies curriculum.   

Summary

Dance

A1. Creating and Presenting: apply the creative process (see pages 19–22) to the composition of a variety of dance pieces, using the elements of dance to communicate feelings and ideas;

A2. Reflecting, Responding, and Analysing: apply the critical analysis process (see pages 23–28) to communicate their feelings, ideas, and understandings in response to a variety of dance pieces and experiences

Drama

B1. Creating and Presenting: apply the creative process (see pages 19–22) to process drama and the development of drama works, using the elements and conventions of drama to communicate feelings, ideas, and multiple perspectives;

B2. Reflecting, Responding, and Analysing: apply the critical analysis process (see pages 23–28) to communicate feelings, ideas, and understandings in response to a variety of drama works and experiences

Unit Guiding Questions

How does passing on and preserving artifacts allows us to have a glimpse into the lives of people’s pasts?

How do objects convey identity, culture, history?

How can understanding the creation of artifacts allows us to understand the values of a society?

How have the arts been used to communicate culture?

How can drama and dance help us to reflect on and respond to cultural artifacts and the Muslim diaspora?

How can drama and dance help us explore and convey messages about community and gathering space?

Assessment and Evaluation

Assessment for Learning

Side-coaching, anecdotal notes, direct observation, descriptive feedback

Assessment as Learning

Co-constructing of criteria, reflection, self and peer feedback based on success criteria

Assessment of Learning

Evaluation of culminating task, using a rubric

Lessons

Lesson 1 - Our Personal Stories

In this lesson, students will use objects that are important to them as a starting point to discussing personal histories and the importance of museums as cultural institutions. Students will then have the opportunity to explore poetry through choral speaking and visual art.

Lesson 2 - Journeys

Using dance, students will explore the concept of a “journey”. They will use different movement activities and tableaux to experiment with ways to represent their own personal journeys and the journey of an object of cultural significance from the Aga Khan permanent collection.

Lesson 3 - Gathering Places

Through the exploration of “gathering places” found in the Aga Khan museum students will discover the relevance of gathering places and the different roles that they play in our communities.  Students will also make connections into the different ways the meeting places are used to communicate ideas and thoughts and transmit culture.  Through the inquiry process students will analyze the spaces provided and share their creations using drama and dance conventions.

Lesson 1 - Our Personal Stories

Lesson Overview

Estimated Time:  2-3 periods

Subject:  Primary/Junior Dance and Drama

In this lesson, students will use objects that are important to them as a starting point to discussing personal histories and the importance of museums as cultural institutions. Students will then have the opportunity to explore poetry through choral speaking and visual art.

Curriculum Expectations

Dance

A1. Creating and Presenting: apply the creative process (see pages 19–22) to the composition of a variety of dance pieces, using the elements of dance to communicate feelings and ideas; 

A2. Reflecting, Responding, and Analysing: apply the critical analysis process (see pages 23–28) to communicate their feelings, ideas, and understandings in response to a variety of dance pieces and experiences 

Drama

B1. Creating and Presenting: apply the creative process (see pages 19–22) to process drama and the development of drama works, using the elements and conventions of drama to communicate feelings, ideas, and multiple perspectives;

B2. Reflecting, Responding, and Analysing: apply the critical analysis process (see pages 23–28) to communicate feelings, ideas, and understandings in response to a variety of drama works and experiences

Learning Goals

At the end of this lesson, students will:

  • Use the elements of dance to create everyday objects
  • Use choral speaking to dramatize a poem
  • Explore how object can represent our thoughts and feelings
  • Discuss the importance of community

Instructional Components and Context

Readiness

Students should have some familiarity with the elements of dance. Prior experience with choral speaking would be an asset. Before beginning this lesson, describe the Essence of Me task and ask students to bring in an object that represents them.

Terminology

Level

Body base

Choral speaking

Gallery walk

Materials

BLM #1: The Essence of Me

Music, music player

BLM #2: Choral Speaking Checklist

A tile for each student and art supplies

Lesson Plan

Minds On

Whole Class  > Creating Objects

Divide students into groups of 4 or 5. Tell students the goal of this exercise is to create an object with their bodies as you count down from 10 to 1. Teacher prompt: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...Couch…...3, 2, 1….smart phone….3, 2, 1…..shoe etc. Encourage students to consider the elements of dance as they are creating (e.g. different levels, big and small shapes, direction, body base).

Extensions:
  1. Invite students to create objects with moving parts and sounds (e.g. an electric toothbrush, a washing machine, a motorcycle).
  2. One pair from each group leaves the room and the others create an object. Students who have left the room have to guess what the object is.

Connections

Connections:  Ask students to create objects that they are familiar with and/or objects that are connected to subject matter from another class.

Assessment for learning:  Use this activity as a diagnostic assessment to determine students’ level of comfort with the elements of dance.

Action!

Whole Class > The Essence of Me: Telling our Personal Stories through Objects

Ask students to select an object to bring to school that represents them. Invite students to imagine that this object will be displayed in museum. The object will convey what is important to them, what they believe in, who they are. Have students complete a brainstorming web to generate ideas. After students have selected an object, have them complete BLM #1: The Essence of Me.

Whole Class > Creating a Class Museum

Tell students to find a spot in the room to display their object and BLM #1: The Essence of Me worksheet. Play quiet music and tell students to go on a gallery walk around the room. Ask students to stand beside their object. In turn, each student will present their object and its meaning.

Key Questions for Discussion

Was it easy or difficult for you to choose an object?Why?

Can objects express our personalities or identity?

What can an object convey about a culture or period in history?

How do certain objects end up in museums? Who makes those decisions?

Why do things get preserved?

How do items get passed down?

What is something that you would want to pass down to your children or preserved that represents your family and or community?

What do artifacts represent about the people of the time?

Whole Class > Choral Speaking

Introduce the elements of choral speaking: Voice, Movement, Volume, Sound. See “Connections” section for resources on choral speaking. Give students a section of the poem Skin Again. In groups, students will create a choral speaking presentation. Students will share their work with the class. (BLM #2 Choral Speaking Checklist).

Individual > Illustration

Distribute one line from the poem to each student. Students will draw their interpretation of that line from the poem on a mosaic tile.

Connections

Connections:  Resource on: choral speaking.

Assessment for learning:  Choral speaking may also be assessed using checklist #1 or checklist #2 or checklist #3.

Consolidation

Whole Class > Collective Mosaic

Students will work in small groups to assemble their poetry mosaic. Small groups will join together and repeat until the final two groups join mosaics to form one large class mosaic. Teacher prompt: How do individuals make up a community? How do communities create culture? Can we think of some examples from our school? Our community? Tell students that we are like the tiles of the mosaic. We are individuals coming together to create a community.

Extension:

Introduce students to the mosaic pieces (such as the triple arched wall) from the AGA Khan Museum collection

Connections

Assessment for and as learning:  Observe student discussion to determine if the class may require further teaching. Students may be given the opportunity to use self-assessment to reflect on their learning from the lesson.

Lesson 2 - Journeys

Lesson Overview

Estimated Time:  3-4 lessons

Subject: Primary/Junior Dance and Drama

Using dance, students will explore the concept of a “journey”. They will use different movement activities and tableaux to experiment with ways to represent their own personal journeys and the journey of an object of cultural significance from the Aga Khan Museum permanent collection.

Curriculum Expectations

Dance

A1. Creating and Presenting: apply the creative process (see pages 19–22) to the composition of a variety of dance pieces, using the elements of dance to communicate feelings and ideas;

A2. Reflecting, Responding, and Analysing: apply the critical analysis process (see pages 23–28) to communicate their feelings, ideas, and understandings in response to a variety of dance pieces and experiences

Drama

B1. Creating and Presenting: apply the creative process (see pages 19–22) to process drama and the development of drama works, using the elements and conventions of drama to communicate feelings, ideas, and multiple perspectives;

B2. Reflecting, Responding, and Analysing: apply the critical analysis process (see pages 23–28) to communicate feelings, ideas, and understandings in response to a variety of drama works and experiences

Learning Goals

At the end of this lesson, students be able to:

  • Use dance to communicate ideas about a journey
  • Use tableau to communicate ideas about a journey

Instructional Components and Context

Readiness

Students should be familiar with the elements of dance and have some experience with tableaux.

Terminology

Positive space

Negative space

Tableau

Dance phrase

Pathway

Elements of Dance

Materials

BLM #3: I am From Writing Prompts

Photographs of artifacts from the Aga Khan Museum permanent collection

Sticker dots

Mural paper

BLM #4: Dancing the Journey and History of an Object

Lesson Plan

Minds On

Pairs > Movement Warm-up

Divide students into pairs and ask them to find a space in the room. Partner A will freeze in a position that uses as much space as possible. Partner B will take a position that fills in the space that partner A has created. Explain to students that this is using positive space and negative space. Partner A unfreezes and fills in the space that partner B has created. Repeat until both partners have had 3 or 4 opportunities to fill the negative space.

 

Extensions for Junior Grades:

Pairs will join another pair, creating groups of 4. Each student will be given a number from 1-4. Call out a number and that student will take a frozen position that takes up as much space as possible. Repeat with students 2-4. Give each group a word related to the theme of “ a journey” (arrival, adventure, lost, flight etc.). Groups continue in the same way, using the word they have been given to motivate their movements. Invite half the groups to watch while the other groups work and vice versa. Side coach for students to experiment with different levels, work in silence, use their whole bodies etc.

**Adapted from Swartz, Larry; Nyman, Debbie (2010) Drama Schemes, Themes & Dream: How to plan, structure and assess classroom events that engage all learners.

Connections

Connections:  Encourage students to think about the other elements of dance while they are creating (e.g. what levels can they use, what body bases, are they using big shapes or small shapes etc.)

Assessment for learning:  Circulate and side-coach as necessary. Determine if you need to do more work on using the elements of dance.

Action!

Small Group > Creating Tableau: “Your Way Begins on the Other Side”

Divide students into small groups for a discussion.

Key Questions for Discussion:

What does it means to take a journey?

Why do people take journeys?

What animals take journeys? Why?

What is the difference between taking a journey and travelling?

Ask students to record their answers on the mural paper. Display the quote from the poet Rumi “Your way begins on the other side” on mural paper. Invite groups to create a tableau that expresses the quote.

Creating Partner Dances > Meeting and Parting

Ask students to create a dance phrase. Teacher prompt: You will create a phrase that communicates the idea of meeting and parting. You will have 8 counts each to travel into your frozen image. Where in the space will you travel from? Will you travel at the same time or one at a time? What kind of pathway (straight, zigzag, curved etc.) will you use to get there? Will you travel sideways, backwards, forwards into your frozen image? You will have 8 counts to leave your image. Will you travel together or one at a time? Where will you travel in the space? What kind of pathways will you use to get there?

Give students time to play with these elements and rehearse. Side coach students with questions about the elements of dance. Teacher prompt: What happens if one partner moves quickly and the other slowly? Once you are in your frozen image, what happens if you both try melting slowly for 8 counts? What happens if you present you movement phrase in one spot without travelling? Once movement phrases have been created, invite students to experiment with the elements of dance further by adding the line of text, trying different formations, synchronization etc. Invite groups to share their movement phrases 3 or 4 groups at a time.

Extension:  “I am from” poems

Explain to students they are now going to do some thinking and writing about who you are, what makes them unique, what memories are important to them. Model writing with prompts (see BLM #3: I am From Writing Prompts). Students will complete BLM #3: I am From Writing Prompts and write their own “ I am from” poems

*Adapted from Christensen, Linda (2000) Reading, Writing and Rising Up: Teaching About Social Justice and the Power of the Written Word **Teacher Note: This can be done as a shared writing activity for primary students. Students will share their final drafts with a partner or whole class.

Small Group > Stations: The Journey of Artifacts/Dotmocracy

Place photographs of artifacts from the Aga Khan Museum’s permanent collection around the room. Assign a colour to each of the images (you may wish to mount them on coloured construction paper). Give students a strip of different coloured stickers, each of which will represent the different images displayed around the room. Ask students to walk around the room looking at the pictures and select one they want to know more about. Post a chart paper with students’ names on the wall. Invite students to place the sticker with the colour that corresponds to their chosen image next to their name. Create groups based student interest. (If there is a large number of students who have selected the same image, this may be broken down into smaller groups). Ask students to discuss their chosen image with their group.

Key Questions for Discussion:

Why did you choose this object?

What is it about its shape/colour/form that interested you?

What might this object have been used for?

Who may have used this object?

Where do you think it might be from?

What questions do you have about the object?

Small Group > Mapping the Journey of an Object: Collective Drawing

On a large piece of mural paper, sketch a map of the world. Give each group of students a picture of their object and ask them to place it on the map to indicate where they think this object originated. Ask each group to consider the journey of this object. Teacher prompt: Where do you think this object has travelled and why? How might it have gotten there? Where did it end up? Ask each group to use a marker to show the journey of the object on the map.

Pairs > Dancing the Journey of an Object

In pairs, students will create a dance piece using the collective map and  BLM #4: Dancing the Journey and History of an Object as a guide. For primary students, select 2 or 3 elements to focus on and guide students through the process as a whole group.

Connections

Connections: Review or introduce the elements of tableau. As an extension, student could record a list of what they infer about the object’s history and write an “ I am from” poem for their object and share with the class. You can reveal the history/background of each object and its significance in the Aga Khan Museum collection and Muslim Society/Culture and/or visit the museum.

Differentiation:  Students may use assistive technology to record their “I Am From” poems.

Assessment for learning:  Side coach students as necessary. Provide descriptive feedback on tableau and elements of dance to ensure students have the skills necessary to complete the culminating activity. Co-construct assessment criteria for dance piece.

Consolidation

Whole Class > Sharing of Dance Pieces

Invite pairs to share their dance pieces with the class. This may be done one pair at a time, several pairs at a time or invite half the class to perform and half the class to be audience members and then switch. How you wish to share will depend on time and student readiness.

Connections

Assessment of learning:  Student dance pieces may be assessed using co-constructed criteria.

Lesson 3 - Gathering Places

Lesson Overview

Estimated Time: 2-3 periods

Subject: Primary/Junior Dance and Drama

Through the exploration of “gathering places” found in the Aga Khan Museum students will discover the relevance of gathering places and the different roles that they play in our communities.  Students will also make connections into the different ways the meeting places are used to communicate ideas and thoughts and transmit culture.  Through the inquiry process students will analyze the spaces provided and share their creations using drama and dance conventions.

Curriculum Expectations

Dance

A1. Creating and Presenting: apply the creative process (see pages 19–22) to the composition of a variety of dance pieces, using the elements of dance to communicate feelings and ideas; 

A2. Reflecting, Responding, and Analysing: apply the critical analysis process (see pages 23–28) to communicate their feelings, ideas, and understandings in response to a variety of dance pieces and experiences 

Drama

B1. Creating and Presenting: apply the creative process (see pages 19–22) to process drama and the development of drama works, using the elements and conventions of drama to communicate feelings, ideas, and multiple perspectives;

B2. Reflecting, Responding, and Analysing: apply the critical analysis process (see pages 23–28) to communicate feelings, ideas, and understandings in response to a variety of drama works and experiences

Learning Goals

  • Develop short movement phrases inspired by the community gathering places identified.
  • Develop and present a dance phrase inspired by the mood and ambience of the gathering place
  • Imitate movements found in their natural environment in a variety of ways and incorporate them into a dance phrase
  • Or present tableaux with different positions that represent the space in the picture they have been provided.

Instructional Components and Context

Readiness

It is important that students have a solid understanding of tableau before beginning this lesson. Students should be comfortable creating and presenting in groups.

Terminology

Caption

Materials

Images of gathering spaces

Lesson Plan

Minds On

Whole Class > Brainstorming

Ask students to consider places that communities gather. Teacher prompt: Where do we all gather together at school? Where are some gathering places in our community? What are the places you and your family gather in your home?

Small Group > Tableau

Create groups of 4 or 5, and ask each group to create a tableau of one of the gathering places brainstormed in the previous activity. Alternately, you may assign one gathering place to each group from the list created by the class. Invite groups to share their tableau. Ask students in the audience to collectively come up with a caption for each tableau that captures the mood/feeling. Teacher prompt: What makes a good gathering space? Why do families or communities need gathering spaces? What are gathering spaces used for?

Connections

Connections:  Refer back to the students’ work on journeys. How are they related to the idea of gathering spaces?

Assessment for/as learning:  Co-construct criteria for tableau. Ensure students have the opportunity to engage in self and peer reflection and are given descriptive feedback in preparation of the culminating task.

Action!

Small Group > Centres: Gathering Places

Create centres using the following pictures of gathering spaces:

  1. Syrian Fountain (preferably pic of fountain from aga Khan Museum)

  2. Mohawk College hoop dance gathering place

  3. Bellerive Room in Aga Khan Museum

  4. Aga Khan Museum theatre room

  5. Aga Khan Courtyard

  6. Ancient stadium of Xysto

Each centre should include an image of the gathering space and a few key details about the place. Divide students into six groups. Students in each group number themselves off 1-5. (Depending on numbers, some groups may have two students who are number 1 etc.).

Student #1 will be the Presenter (share ideas with the whole class), Student #2 the Recorder (writes down ideas), Student #3 is the Moderator (ensures everyone is speaking and taking turns), Student #4 is the Energizer (asks questions, creates discussion) and Student #5 is timekeeper (ensures group is on task and on time).

Please note: for primary students you may wish to assign roles and have students explore only one gathering space centre.

Assign each group to a centre and have them discuss the following questions at each centre. Rotate students to a new centre every 10mins. The discussion roles will also rotate so students have the chance to experience each role. Instruct students that 1st minute of looking at the picture at each centre is silent so that students may come up with their own thoughts and ideas of the picture before discussing as a group.

Key Questions for Discussion:

What do you think happens in this gathering space?

What is the form of communication that takes place in this gathering space?

How is the gathering space designed?

What is the mood or feeling you get in the gathering space?

What are some movements that you would associate with that feeling or mood?

Have each group pick one of the gathering places and create a tableau of how they think this gathering space is used and what is communicated during the gathering.

Whole Class > Introducing the Culminating Task

Put students in groups of 3-5. Explain to students that they will be in role as architects who are designing a gathering space. Their task will be to plan and design a gathering space for their community, using the elements discussed or seen in other gathering places. (You may choose to use google sketchup for older grades or other forms of technology to create the gathering space).

The task is broken down into the following components:

Part A

Design a community gathering space in your community (this can be represented through a sketch, drawing, technology such as google sketchup etc).

Part B

Create a series of tableux’s that would help to answer some of the following questions.

Key Questions for Consideration:

Where would your gathering space be?

What function would it serve?

What would we expect to see there?

Who should we expect to see there?

When would it be used, daily, yearly, monthly?

What would people be communicating in this gathering?

Whose voices should be heard in the creation of this gathering space? (i.e. do you need to consult with key stakeholders)

By the end students will create a community gathering place of their own indicating why they have incorporated some of the many different elements.  

Note: Primary students may do this as a whole class activity.

Connections

Connections:  Remind students to consider all the work from previous lessons to inform their thinking.

Differentiation:  Some students may require or prefer the use of assistive technology (e.g. Google Sketchup).

Assessment for/as learning:  Revisit co-constructed criteria and add/refine as necessary. You may wish to use or adapt this Tableau Rubric. Ensure that students have the opportunity to receive peer and teacher feedback prior to presenting.

Consolidation

Whole Class > Sharing of Gathering Space

Invite groups to share their gathering spaces with the class.

Assessment of learning:  Students are evaluated based on co-constructed criteria.