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.
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
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
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
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- BLM #10 - Artifacts from the Aga Khan Digital Collection
- Laptops and tablets
- Paper and writing utensils
- Speakers (optional)
- Copies of BLM #14 - A Mosaic of Questions for Independent Inquiry
- BLM #15 - Performance Rubric
- BLM #16 - Every Object Tells a Story Peer Feedback Form
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.
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.
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).
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
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/
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.
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.
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?
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).
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.
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.