South Philly Kaleidoscope: The 9th Street Market Mural

Essential Questions

How has social disagreement and collaboration been beneficial to Pennsylvania society?
What role does analysis have in historical construction?


  • Students will analyze various ethnic cultural aspects of the 9th Street Mural by comparing and contrasting multiple works of art and discussing their origins in the neighborhoods of Philadelphia.
  • Students will understand the role of public art in a socio-cultural context through a study of its role in the history of Philadelphian architectural revitalization.
  • Students will develop skills in researching and contextual analysis through the independent study of other Philadelphia-related cultural conflicts such as the Kensington Riot of 1844 and the Lombard Street Riot.
  • Students will critical analyze ways in which they could represent their own cultures in a public setting by create a list of new mural places and people that better fit their experiences with Philadelphia, and then drawing their own sketch of the image.

Suggested Instructional Procedures

1. Springboard (5 min.)
a. To begin the lesson, teacher will remind students of the secondary, previous reading about the 9th Street Market Mural.  Teacher will inform students that today’s lesson will expand upon and use the knowledge of the reading.
b. Teacher will ask students, in teams of 2, to review their packets/notes of the reading and select 3 vital facts they found within it.
c. Teacher will inform students that they have 2 minutes to review their sheets and underline the 3 important facts
d. When complete, teacher will ask that student groups “share out” to the class, specifically asking if other groups found the same passage or line, and whether other groups found corroborating evidence that back up a group’s selection.
e. Teacher will direct students to the front of the room with the project, informing them that the direct instruction will take only a few minutes but that it is vital to pay attention and jot down notes in their notebooks (assuming the teacher uses a collected notebook) or on a separate sheet of paper (if they don’t).
2. Focus (5 min)
a. To begin the focus, teacher will present a short PowerPoint of essential themes from the reading that was just discussed, ensuring to mention if any groups found similar findings in their responses.  Teacher will explain the cultural and historical significance of a public sphere like the 9th Street Market Mural, and expand the points from the reading by asking students to raise their hands if they can explain the different layers found within the murals (logistically, thematically, etc.)
b. Then, the teacher will ask students to get into groups of 4.
c. Then, while students are moving and getting settled, teacher will hand out the “Mural Key”  and ask that students investigate their group’s mural: its history, culture, and potential effect is has on the mural at large.
3. Main Activity (20 min)
a. Depending on whether computers are available to students, teacher will either print out different packets each with their own hardcopy of PhilaPlace’s information on each mural (found within the link to the Mural Key).  If they do have computers, teacher can easily adapt the search into a web-quest and have students find the information either on their own or once directed to the PhilaPlace website.
b. Students will complete the generalized “Independent Work: Mural Explanations” sheet provided by the teacher (user-generated*) with sections on history, culture, impact, relative meaning, importance, etc.  It will also include a section to take down the most important notes shared by the other groups (to uphold individual accountability).
c. Teacher will walk around the room providing help with interpretation, navigation of articles, and further explanation of vocabulary concepts and definitions.
d. Once students have complete their own articles and worksheets, teacher will ask that a representative from each group go to the front of the classroom to represent the group’s findings to the rest of the class.
e. Teacher will remind students that they will be responsible for all of the information provided not just their group’s information.  Ensure that students are completing all sections of the handout worksheet.
f. Upon completion of the group “share-outs,” teacher will ask students to complete the next activity by themselves and back in their original seats.  As students go back to their seats, teacher will hand out the sheet for the following short assignment.
4. Expanding Activity (10 min)
a. Teacher, after handing out the blank sheets of white paper, will describe the directions of the activity to the class.  Teacher will reinforce directions by posting them as a slide on the board.
b. Teacher will ask students to create their own contribution to the South Philly Mural representing their own cultural ethnicity, beliefs, etc.  Remind students that their additions must fit the theme of the mural already established.  Ask that they sketch it on one side of the paper, and on the other, write a short paragraph explaining both what the mural is and why they chose to draw it.
c. Teacher will walk around the room, encouraging drawings and paragraphs, answering questions, comments, or concerns.
d. Teacher will inform students that if they don’t finish their drawings, it will be due at some point in the future (you can make it later in the week or the next day).
e. Teacher will inform students that they will be reviewing the directions of the homework until class finishes.
5. Extension Activity (Assign Homework) (5 min.)
a. Teacher will introduce the directions for the assignment on the overhead in either a Word or PowerPoint document.
b. Teacher will inform students that two specific Riots took place in 1844 in Philadelphia that show the opposite effect of multiple ethnicities coming together: conflict.  For homework, half of the class will fill out the guided notes sheet based on the Lombard Riots while the other will cover the Kensington Riots.  Teacher will inform students that it will be due the next day, and be checked for completion at that point.
c. Teacher will hand out the guided note sheets while discussing the directions.


Public Art: The use of artistic products like paintings, sculptures, and statues, that exemplify the local public population or cultural aspects of the local population.  Often, public art is funded and created through local organizations and provides a sense of community.

Culture: The behaviors, beliefs, and characteristics shared by a specific social, ethnic, or age group.

Cultural Diffusion: The process by which a cultural trait, material object, idea, or behavior pattern is spread from one social, ethnic, or geographic group to another social, ethic, or geographic group.