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NYU Steinhardt EMAT Teaching Residency
Hotchalk Global

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Here is an art history lesson on Byzantine art and architecture


Social Studies, Language Arts, Art  


6, 5  

Title – Byzantine Art and Architecture
By – Marybeth Curley-Penna
Primary Subject – Art
Secondary Subjects – Language Arts, Social Studies
Grade Level – 5-6
After a class discussion and viewing examples of Byzantine styles of art and architecture, students working in small cooperative groups will be able to successfully label the pieces of the architectural dome of Hagia Sophia, define mosaic, and construct a small flower mosaic with teacher-provided materials and directions. Students will also be able to successfully compare and contrast modern day architecture to Hagia Sophia through a fully developed one-page essay with 90% accuracy. This lesson will take one to two days to complete.

The Arts – Standards 2 & 3
Students will be knowledgeable about and make use of the materials and resources given to them by the teacher for participation in the arts in various roles.
Students will respond critically to a variety of works in the arts, connecting the individual work to other works and to other aspects of human endeavors.

This will be evident when the students respond critically to their textbook reading and from teacher provided worksheets. Students will be able to compare and contrast modern architecture and Byzantine architecture through their one-page essays.

Language Arts – Standard 1
Indicator: This will be evident when students write a one page essay with 90% accuracy.

The teacher will start the class by showing slides of Hagia Sophia and Byzantine mosaics and posing the questions: “How many of you can describe to me what type of architecture this is from what you have learned from previous art or history classes?” “Would you like me to explain this structure?” The teacher will also provide examples of art and architecture that the students have already learned to have the students think critically and be able to compare and contrast modern day architecture to the Byzantine style.

Slide projector, slides of Hagia Sophia, parts of a dome, mosaics, tiles, glue, cardboard, dome-worksheets, Styrofoam example of dome, example of flower mosaic.

The teacher will use direct instruction, or lecture, throughout this 1-2 day lesson, to ensure enough time for the students to retain the knowledge. Also, the use of modeling as a technique to introduce what a mosaic is and how it is constructed.

For those students who either are visually or hearing impaired, the teacher will seat the students close to the teacher’s desk and use enlarged materials such as larger print worksheets and loudly and audibly read any printed text.

For the students who looked puzzled, the teacher will float from cooperative group to cooperative group, offering assistance.

1) Students will take out a piece of paper and answer the following questions: What is a mosaic? Where is Hagia Sophia? What is the time period of the Byzantine Empire?
2) Students will then use these answered questions to develop a one-page essay comparing and contrasting modern day architecture with Hagia Sophia.
3) The students will then break into cooperative groups of 3 or 4 students to work on a mosaic of a flower, using teacher-supplied materials.

Students will label the elements of a dome, make a small mosaic of a flower, and write a one-page essay comparing and contrasting modern day architecture to Byzantine architecture. This will be evaluated and graded by the teacher using a 30-point rubric. (see attached).

Following the lesson, students will be asked to research their own communities for any evidence of architectural domes or mosaics. If students are unable to find such similarities, they will be given the opportunity to research on the Internet either at home or in the school computer lab.


Academic Intervention: For the group or individual student who fails to successfully label the parts of a dome, the teacher will use a large, scale model version of a dome, made of Styrofoam for further understanding. For those who fail to successfully complete a small flower mosaic, the teacher will meet the members of the group after class and lend assistance to having them complete another mosaic with a design of their choice.
Academic Enrichment: For those students who demonstrate full understanding of each of the parts of a Byzantine dome and successfully complete the flower mosaic, they will be given the opportunity to design their own mosaic or research Hagia Sophia further with the use of in school encyclopedias or the Internet.

          Farah, M.A., & Karls, A.B. (1999). World history: the human experience. New York, NY: Glencoe McGraw-Hill.

          Huyghe, R. (1963). Larousse encyclopedia of Byzantine and medieval art. New York, NY: Prometheus Press.

          Janson, H.W., & Janson, A.F. (1997). History of art. New York, NY: Harry N. Abrahms, Inc., Publishers.

          Matthews, T.F. (1998). Byzantium: From antiquity to the renaissance. New York, NY: Harry N. Abrahms, Inc., Publishers.

Rubric for Byzantine Lesson Plan:

Name ________________________________
Byzantine Art and Architecture

Labeling of Byzantine Dome (5)           __________

Flower Mosaic (10)           __________

One-Page Essay (15)           __________

Total Points (30)           __________

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