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TeachNet NYC: Lesson Plans

Exploring the Renaissance and Reformation

Project URL

How it works:
To what extent did the Northern Renaissance and Reformation affect Europe? To explore this topic, students are randomly divided via computer into groups of three or four, with a group leader assigned by the teacher. The leader is the contact person with the teacher on progress, issues, and organization. The students visit the library and spend a few days using mobile computers or a computer lab to explore the web sites provided in the process and take notes for the final presentation. A ten-minute visual presentation of the project is done via PowerPoint or other tool that involves something other than lecturing or the reading of notes. It includes graphs, charts, pictures, and an informational handout. All participate in the presentation portion of the project. There is a rubric given to the students so they know exactly what is expected of them.

Standards addressed:
Students use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in world history (specifically the Reformation and Northern Renaissance), and examine the broad sweep of history from a variety of perspectives. They utilize techology to conduct research, view authentic documents and artworks, and prepare a presentation for their peers.

Materials used:
Students utilize computers with Internet access, scanners, PowerPoint software, and Microsoft Word.

The students:
This project is suitable for Regents and AP students. Students should understand the basics of Microsoft Word and Internet use.

Overall value:
Students produce meaningful information from their research to utilize in their presentations, organize the information into a meaningful narrative, utilize PowerPoint presentations as a visual aid to their presentations, coordinate with each other to create a presentation to the class, understand the causes of the Renaissance, examine specific factors that contributed to the cultural and educational growth of the Renaissance, and compare European societies before and after the Northern Renaissance. Students learn how to teach themselves and others, hence become introspective and intraspective learners. They have a chance to discover their personal learning strategy(ies) and strengths.

Avoid grouping the overachievers with the just-passing. Be wary of those who are often absent-- put them in a three-person group that can function without the fourth person. Have the students fill out a rubric on the presentation that goes into the group folder, and have each student maintain a personal portfolio and a group folder.

About the teacher:
John Pettorino's interest in teaching social studies was sparked by an undergraduate history course on World War II. "While the material was a bit on the dry side, I discovered through research how interesting the world around me has changed and the impact events have had that make us who we are today."

He ditched his medical career and pursued his Master's Degree in Secondary Education at Hofstra University. He currently teaches at Bayside High School in Queens, New York. His other area of interest is Middle Eastern history, sparked by his fabulous Iranian wife.


Subject Areas:                           
Social Studies

Grade Levels: 



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