1. Discuss the image Alchandreus Presents His Text to a King using the following questions.
This image is the frontispiece of a book covering such diverse topics as the movement of the planets, distances between stars, signs of the zodiac, the nature of the moon, and the art of reading minds.
What tools do you see in the image that aid in the study of astronomy? (The astrolabe)
Examine the text area of the page. What other evidence can you find on this page that links it to the topics mentioned above? (The names of a few planets and some of the signs of the zodiac are mentioned in blue and red pigments throughout the text.)
Discuss the differences between modern astronomy and the topics covered in Alchandreus's text. The art of reading minds was a section of the texts in the Book of the Philosopher Alchandreus. Is mind reading still connected to astronomy today?
Astrology originally professed to be a science that could forecast earthly events based on the movements of the celestial bodies. Is astrology considered a science today?
2. As a group, generate ideas by discussing modern discoveries in astronomy. These could include things such as black holes; the recent Mars Rover expeditions; recent inventions that aid in the study of astronomy, such as the Hubble Telescope; or the discovery of Sedna, a possible 10th planet/planetoid in our solar system.
3. After the discussion, have students choose a subject of modern astronomy that they would like to write and create an illuminated image about. Students will then research information about their subjects and write a brief paragraph.
4. Once their writing is ready, the students will each create a manuscript page with an illumination. They will be responsibile for the layout of the page and where to set the text and illumination. Students should rule the lines before beginning to write out their research on their astronomical discovery. Have the students use oil pastels to create their illumination, and gold or silver foil to add details to their work.
5. Finally, have each student present to the class his or her research and findings on modern astronomy. Bring the pages together for a class critique and discuss successful compositions as a class. Fifth-grade students should be able to discuss their artwork using principles of design such as balance, unity, repetition, contrast, etc.
Common Core Standards for English Language Arts
3.4 With guidance and support from adults, produce writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task and purpose.
4.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
5.4 Produce clear and coherent writing (including multiple-paragraph texts) in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
3.1 Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
3.3 Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.
4.1 Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
4.3 Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.
5.1 Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
5.3 Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.
SPEAKING AND LISTENING
3.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
3.4 Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.
4.3 Identify the reasons and evidence a speaker or media source provides to support particular points.
4.6 Differentiate between contexts that call for formal English (e.g., presenting ideas) and situations where informal discourse is appropriate (e.g., small-group discussion); use formal English when appropriate to task and situation. (See grade 4 Language standards 1 and 3 for specific expectations.)
5.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
5.3 Summarize the points a speaker or media source makes and explain how each claim is supported by reasons and evidence, and identify and analyze any logical fallacies.
Science Content Standards for California Public Schools
4. Objects in the sky move in regular and predictable patterns. As a basis for understanding
a. Students know the patterns of stars stay the same, although they appear to move
across the sky nightly, and different stars can be seen in different seasons.
b. Students know the way in which the Moon's appearance changes during the four week
d. Students know that Earth is one of several planets that orbit the Sun and that the
Moon orbits Earth.
e. Students know the position of the Sun in the sky changes during the course of the
day and from season to season.
5. The solar system consists of planets and other bodies that orbit the Sun in predictable
paths. As a basis for understanding this concept:
a. Students know the Sun, an average star, is the central and largest body in the solar
system and is composed primarily of hydrogen and helium.
b. Students know the solar system includes the planet Earth, the Moon, the Sun,
eight other planets and their satellites, and smaller objects, such as asteroids and
c. Students know the path of a planet around the Sun is due to the gravitational
attraction between the Sun and the planet.
Visual Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools
Make Informed Judgments
4.2 Identify successful and less successful compositional and expressive qualities of their own works of art and describe what might be done to improve them.
4.3 Select an artist's work and, using appropriate vocabulary of art, explain its successful compositional and communicative qualities.
5.0 Connections, Relationships, Applications
Students apply what they learned in the visual arts across subject areas.
Communication and Expression Through Original Works of Art
2.5 Assemble a found object sculpture (as assemblage) or a mixed media two-dimensional composition that reflects unity and harmony and communicates a theme.
4.0 Aesthetic Valuing
4.1 Identify how selected principles of design are used in a work of art and how they affect personal responses to and evaluation of the work of art.