Crossing Borders/Breaking Boundaries IV:
The Impact of Islamic Culture on the Arts of the Renaissance

July 19-26, 2004
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Division of Instruction
UNIT PLANNING FRAME Title: Islamic Storytelling and the Renaissance Connection
Content Area(s): Theatre
Grade: 9-12 Duration: 7-8 days 45 min.
Stage 1: Identify Desired Results Teacher: Pam LeFave daily

Essential Curriculum
Maryland State Content Standards (Reference the first section of the St. Mary’s County Public School System’s Essential Curriculum for specific content area standards.) :
Students will demonstrate the ability to recognize and describe the development of a variety of dramatic forms over time and the aesthetic qualities they reflect.
Expectation A: Students will analyze and describe verbally ways that storytelling satisfies the need for the aesthetic expression through the portrayal of human experience and values.
Indicator: Students will identify a wide variety of characters presented in literature and describe ways they reflect a range of human feeling and experiences.
Benchmark: Students will identify characters function in classical and modern texts. ( i.e. protagonist, antagonist, supporting, etc.) Students will analyze characters in texts for their function in the plot.
Indicator: Students will compare the relationship among cultural values, freedom of artistic expression, ethics, and artistic choices in various cultures and historical periods.
Benchmark: Students will identify characteristics that literature and performances reflect of ancient Islamic society. Students will identify literature and performances that reflect Renaissance/Islamic society.
(i.e. attitudes, values, behavior)
Expectation B: Students will compare the development of dramatic forms, production practices, and theatrical traditions across culture and historical periods.
Indicator: Students will describe the basic elements, materials, and means of communicating in theatre, and related art forms.
Indicator: Students will compare the interpretive and expressive qualities of several art forms in a specific culture or historical period.
Benchmark: Students will compare and/or contrast a piece of art from the Renaissance to a play from the Renaissance period for its interpretive and expressive qualities. Students will compare and/or contrast a piece of art from the Islamic culture to a story for its interpretive and expressive qualities.
Students will demonstrate an understanding of the history, traditions, and conventions of theatre and other literature of the theatre and the ways that diverse theories and forms of theatre satisfy cultural needs, past and present.
Expectation A: Students will analyze various forms of theatre that reflect the various roles of theatre in contemporary life.
Indicator: Students will describe significant developments in theatre by periods and cultures.
Benchmark: Students will identify the development of theatre in Italy and England and the art of storytelling in the Islamic culture as well as in England.
Indicator: Students will demonstrate knowledge of appropriate audience behavior in relationship to cultural traditions.
Benchmark: Students will evaluate and discuss audience behavior and traditions from various time periods and cultures.
Indicator: Students will demonstrate knowledge of the diversity of theatrical expression and the creative processes from which these endeavors emerge.
Benchmark: Students will evaluate and describe storytelling and experiment with this genre in their own performance.
Expectation B: Students will demonstrate knowledge of the contributions of major theatrical practitioners to the development of theatre forms over time.
Indicator: Students will demonstrate knowledge of a variety of dramatic structures and styles used in dramatic literature and performance.
Benchmark: Students will identify and demonstrate knowledge of oral tradition and vocal skills in storytelling.
Indicator: Students will identify and discuss social and political events that have affected the writing styles of a variety of Western and non-Western playwrights and theatrical styles.
Benchmark: Students will identify events of the Elizabethan period that affected choices Shakespeare made in writing his plays. Students will research why the Islamic culture discourages theatrical performances.
Students will demonstrate the ability to explore the creative process through creation, performance and presentation.
Expectation A: Students will rehearse and perform a story of their own creation.
Indicator: Students will experiment with this art form.
Benchmark: Students will demonstrate skillful use of voice and expression to perform their stories.
Indicator: Students will develop multiple interpretations for scripts and visual and oral ideas for presentation.
Benchmark: Students will demonstrate vocal and oral interpretation to create characters.
Indicator: Students will describe historical theatrical production designs, techniques, and performances from the Islamic culture to assist in making appropriate artistic choices for presentation
Benchmark: Students will trace the development of production the eras studied.
Students will demonstrate the ability to identify, analyze, and apply criteria for individual and group contributions to the collaborative theatre process and performance.
Expectation A: Students will demonstrate an understanding that theatre requires unity of effort in ensemble building.
Indicator: Students will use prescribed and self-constructed criteria to evaluate and describe verbally the characteristics of successful performances.
Benchmark: Students will use a prescribed review format to evaluate the performance success.

What enduring understandings are desired?
The free trade of luxury goods between the Islamic sphere of influence and Christian Europe during the Medieval and Renaissance period led to a transfer and fusion of ideas and styles. This fusion is particularly visible in the Arts.
Performances of different cultures are frequently influenced by exposure to other cultures. With the ability to trade goods and with exposure to people of different cultures, cultural and societal values are exchanged.

What essential questions will guide this unit and focus the teaching and learning?
How are ideas transferred between cultures?
How does proximity to people of different religions and cultures result in a blending of culture?
How does anyone really know where their inspiration comes from?
What is storytelling? What purpose does it serve?
What purpose does it serve in the Islamic Culture?
What purpose did it serve during the Renaissance era?

What key content knowledge will students acquire as a result of this unit?
What will students know?
Students will become more aware of the existence of the Islamic Empire and the vast array of beautiful art.
Students will learn a little about the Islamic religion which will help them understand culture better.
Students will become aware of the transfer of ideas and values with the increase of trade and travel.
Students will appreciate the workmanship of an ancient culture.
Students will understand what a moral of a story is.

What key skills and processes will students acquire as a result of this unit?
What will students be able to do?
Students will be able to tell a story in an interesting and dramatic way.
Students will be able to write a story with a moral.
Students will be able to work cooperatively.
Students will be able to critique each other’s work.


Stage 2: Determine Acceptable Evidence of Learning

What will students do to demonstrate the desired knowledge/proficiencies?

Through what performance tasks/projects will students demonstrate understanding? Include the rubric(s).

Students will demonstrate cooperative learning by doing a group presentation.
Students will critique each group’s work.
Students will write their own story with a moral.
Students will perform their story for the class.
Students will critique individual performances.
Students will create a book of stories.

Through what other evidence, such as quizzes, tests, and constructed responses, will students demonstrate achievement of the desired results?

Students will have a 5 minute warm up question almost daily.
There will be a vocabulary quiz.
Students will have an ECR and reflection sheet on the last day.

How will students reflect upon and assess their own learning?

Class Critiques
The last day reflection
The stories that they write
Their performances


Stage 3: Plan Learning Experiences and Instruction

A vocabulary list is available on pp44-47 in the teacher’s guide called
Arts of the Islamic World. (Smithsonian Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery)
Websites: (Time line of History and artifacts)
Google: Flamenco key word “Flamenco by All About Spain”
For teachers:
Storybooks: Traveling Man The Journey of Ibn Battuta, 1325-1354
Ayat Jamilah: Beautiful Signs by Sarah Conover and Freda Crane

( May include Anticipatory Set, Review, Presentation of New Concepts, Guided Practice, Independent Practice, and Closure as appropriate.)

Day One:5 minute warm-up: Question on the board: What do you know or have you heard about Islam? Please answer with at least three sentences.
Ask the class, “How would you feel if you knew that while England and much of Europe was living in the Dark Ages, etc., a society was in existence whose philosophers, artists, scientists, agriculturalists, and architects had talents that paralleled those of Ancient Greece? Allow a couple of minutes for comment. Show students postcards and pictures of visual art and crafts such as glass, carpets, fabric, and pottery starting from the 6th century and continuing to the 15th century.(Using the teacher’s guide from the Freer Gallery, some introductory information from “Teaching About Islam and Muslims,” and some introductory information from Ayat Jamilah: Beautiful Signs). Give students handouts and have then read information out loud. Give them some general vocabulary sheets.
Day Two: Warm-up: Why did the arts flourish during the Renaissance era? Have students call off numbers of three or four to form groups. (This depends upon the size of the class.) Hand out e-sheets with some websites on them. Take class to computer labs to look at the websites and some of the images. Instructor will give each group a region and time frame (or regime) and ask them to look up information about the Islamic culture and history for that region. The students will prepare a presentation for the rest of the class to share what they have learned about that particular topic. Hand out rubrics for group presentations. Depending upon the size and ability level of the class, they may need more time to prepare presentations. Warn them about a vocabulary quiz.
Day Three: Groups will present the information they have prepared. Students will evaluate presentations based on the rubrics for a group presentation that they received.
Day Four: Warm-up: What did people do for entertainment during the Medieval and Renaissance eras?
Instructor takes out a large scarf or piece of fabric that looks Islamic. It is carrying a number of objects that relate to the story that will soon be performed for the class. Ask students to look at the item and guess what function it might play in the coming story Traveling Man: The Journey of Ibn Battuta, 1325-1354. Give students a list of vocabulary from the storybook. Instructor models a presentation of the story. Students should discuss what things the man saw and did. If time permits, the instructor models another story. This should be more indicative of the moral tradition of Islamic
stories. Instructor reads The Honorable Joha, Mulla Nasruddin Hodja and the Famous Donkey Story.
Open discussion about the moral of the story.
Day Five: Warm-up: Why do stories with a moral seem fitting for the Islamic culture?
Instructor opens with a review discussion of the story or stories of the previous day. Instructor should model another story—The Honorable Joha, Mulla Nasruddin Hodja and the Tricky Case—then ask what was happening in England during the Renaissance that would relate to the stories of Islam? Students should relate to the morality plays of the Renaissance and troubadours or scops of the middle ages. Talk about Aesop’s Fables. Have one to read to the class.
Day Six: Give the students a scenario about a teenage boy who gets a job on a merchant ship and travels around the trade routes. Pretend that you are that boy. Your story should have a moral. Also incorporate some of the goods that people would have traded for and some of the interesting things you might have seen . Ask students to write their own story with a moral. The students who were in groups for the presentations earlier in the week are to each write their own story. After the stories are written with a final copy, the members of the groups will combine their stories to make a story book. Designs and information about illustrating the book will be available to the groups. They will be expected to illustrate the book and display their stories along the style of Islamic art. Tell students that they will be reading their stories to the class in storytelling style of presentation displaying their illustrations. See rubric
Day Seven: Reflection: What have you learned about the Islamic Empire and culture that surprises you most?

Describe the instructional activities, such as Content Reading and Writing Strategies, Graphic Organizers, Cooperative Learning, and Technology, which will be used to help students reach the desired results.

Student will do group presentations based on collaborative research.
Students will do a web search looking for artifacts and images in the computer lab.
Students will read for information.
Students will write their own story with a moral.
Students will look at a map showing them the location and expanse of the Islamic Empire.

Revised 8/9/02

Comments: I will continue to search for more web sites. The goal would be to give each group a specific area to research and present information on. Examples of the topics/areas would be Islamic Spain, Flamenco, Persia, Turkey, Islamic North Africa, The Ottoman Empire, and Suleyman the Magnificent. This unit would be taught directly after a unit of the Renaissance Theatre History so that students could relate it to the Renaissance era. There would be links to the previous unit during this unit.

Individual lesson plans will be provided at the next follow-up session

Sponsored by
the Center for Renaissance & Baroque Studies
and the Maryland State Department of Education