T2 - The Alhambra Restoration
T2 Home
    Professional Information Center | Student Investigation Center | Communication Center
horizontal line
horizontal line
  Investigation/ Exploration
horizontal line
  Resolution/ Refinement
horizontal line
horizontal line




Earthquake destroys priceless treasures
in Spain's famous Alhambra Palace!

A mild earthquake that struck Granada, Spain, in the early morning hours cost no lives but damaged several of the precious mosaic panels in the historic Alhambra Palace that sits atop a hill overlooking the city...

With this scenario students are placed in the role of art restoration professionals who are asked to come to Spain to examine the damage and consider designing replacement panels that retain authentic design but stay within a budget.



back to top

As students investigate this problem situation they learn about the Alhambra and a portion of Spanish history; they explore geometric shapes and tessellating patterns; and they deal firsthand with economic issues and constraints. In addition, they become acquainted with 14th century Moorish art and the work of the Dutch artist, M.C. Escher.

As they work through the unit, they enlarge their understanding of the concept of patterns and a significant interdisciplinary idea: Pattern recognition is fundamental to problem solving.

The Alhambra Restoration is a problem-based learning PPT (PBL) unit, as are all of the T2 Units PDF. The skills that are developed through participation in a PBL unit include decision-making, critical thinking, and, of course, problem solving. T2 Units also highlight the effective use of metacognition and collaboration.

The unit is designed for upper elementary/middle grades and integrates the content areas of mathematics, social studies, and the visual arts. Appropriate state (North Carolina) and national standards PDF are identified, and introductory papers PDF written by content area specialists give you some background information on this very interesting topic.

The time frame is variable and can be determined by each teacher. We recommend a minimum of two weeks.


back to top

Multiple means of assessment are suggested over the course of the unit. Visit the Professional Information Center for more information and for examples. Access to some of these items is also available through the Student Investigation Center.

Checkpoints, signified by the symbol check, are short quizzes meant to be used by students to self-check their content knowledge and skills as they work through unit tasks. We have embedded an example or two in the unit's Learning Tasks, but teachers will want to add others to accompany the information they think is important.

Product/Performance Rubrics for evaluating Class Participation PDF, Teamwork PDF, and Presentation PDF are available for use with the unit. Other rubrics, or scoring guidelines, may be developed for specific tasks and activities. Each task included in The Alhambra Restoration unit contains a product or performance that can provide assessment information.

Problem Logs provide a good way to check the metacognitive thinking of your students. Each student should keep a log, making contributions each day. Teachers may use the log as a place for "minute writes" if they choose. See an example PDF of a Problem Log with minute write questions in the Professional Information Center. A blank PDF Problem Log is available for students in the Student Investigation Center.

Concept Maps are sometimes used by teachers as assessment tools since they can provide evidence of change in conceptual understanding. If you are interested in using concept maps as assessment PDF, see a brief explanation in the Professional Information Center.


back to top

If you are intrigued enough to proceed, go to the Engagement HTMLsection to get started on the first phase of problem-based learning.


back to top

As you proceed through the unit, we invite you to share your experiences with us, and we will share with you what we have heard from others in the Communication Center HTML. Together, we have much to learn!

Photo of Alhambra
Photo courtesy of Joe Frank Jones, III

Copyright © 2004 Elon University.