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?
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
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
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.
- Artifact (an object, often artwork, that holds special meaning, purpose, or significance)
- One or more student-owned small handheld objects (something the student’s feel may be significant to them, or unusual, or objects behind which there is an interesting story - a statuette, an old watch, a picture, a painting, a mug, and many more possibilities)
- Area to display objects
- Chairs, boxes and other surfaces to display objects
- Tape or Sticky Tack for label placement
- Copies of BLM #5 - Artifact-Museum Object Blank Labels
- Copies of BLM #6 - Labelling Artifacts_Objects in a Museum Collection
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.
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”
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.
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:
Choose another artifact in existence, or from your life, that you feel has an interesting back story.
- 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?
- 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.
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.
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?
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:
- Place of manufacture/creation
- Name of the museum/institution that owns it
- 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).
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.
- 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.