Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Islam or Christianity?

Eric Miles


After studying the Byzantine Empire, students make a mosaic representing Constantinople under Christian or Muslim rule.


The student produces final documents that have been edited for: correct spelling; correct punctuation, including commas, colons, and common use of semicolons; correct capitalization; correct sentence formation; correct instances of possessives, subject/verb agreement, instances of noun/pronoun agreement, and the intentional use of fragments for effect; and correct formatting that appeals to readers, including appropriate use of a variety of graphics, tables, charts, and illustrations in both standard and innovative forms.

The student uses chronology, sequencing, patterns, and periodization to examine interpretations of an event.

The student understands features of the theological and cultural conflict between the Muslin world and Christendom and the resulting religious, political, and economic competition in the Mediterranean region.


-A history textbook
-An art textbook
-Photographs of Constantinople
-Old magazines
-Colored tissue paper or other colored paper
-Manila paper


1. Gather information on Constantinople. Depict the daily life in the city. Describe the value of the ports and the importance of the city’s location. Discuss the influences that the Islamic people and the Christian people had on the city.
2. Gather pictures or photographs of the city’s important buildings, such as the Hagia Sophia, the Palace, the Hippodrome, the market, etc.
3. Gather tissue paper, manila paper, scissors, and glue.


1. Before starting the unit on the Byzantine Empire, tell students that they will have a mosaic project at the end of the unit. Students will be more focused on the material being presented if they know that it might be helpful later for the project.

2. After the Byzantine Empire unit, review the importance of Constantinople to both Muslims and Christians. Talk about and show pictures of the Hagia Sophia, the Hippodrome, Justinian Codes, the palace, the fortification of the city, etc. Remind the students that Constantinople was a city based on trade connecting Asia, Africa, and Europe; therefore, the city had many different types of people. Have the students pretend that they are living in Constantinople in A.D. 1000, during which it was a Christian city, or after A.D. 1253 when Constantinople became an Islamic city. Have the students create a mosaic depicting a scene from either period. The mosaic must give historical evidence about the particular time period they choose. For example, if a student wishes to create a mosaic about Hagia Sophia in A.D. 1000, make sure that the student includes a cross representing the Eastern Orthodox Church.

3. When preparing the mosaics, students sketch a drawing of the mosaic first. After completing the sketch, students consider the colors needed for the mosaics. Students tear tissue paper into small pieces, about the size of a nickel, and separate different colors into separate piles. Students place the tissue paper on the manila paper before permanently gluing the tissue paper.

4. Have students write a paragraph depicting the pictures and explaining the historical importance of them. Students explain why their mosaics should be included in a high school textbook when students study about Constantinople. Share the criteria listed in the Assessment with the students. Remind them that the paragraph should be edited as part of their assessment.


The student's mosaic and paragraph should be assessed using the following criteria:
-Student's mosaic reflects understanding of the correct time period and the differences between the Islam and Christian religion.
-Student's paragraph should:
1. Identify the correct time period.
2. Identify which religion controlled the city during the time period chosen.
3. Identify buildings or places of importance in Constantinople for the proper religion.
4. Discuss the religious conflict.
5. Be edited for conventions.

Students who are having difficulty may need additional feedback from the teacher.
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