Procedure - for "Characteristics of Renaissance" lecture/discussion
Remind students that in the 1300s, the period known as the Middle Ages was coming to an end. People throughout Europe began to realize that institutions like feudal governments and the Catholic Church were not all powerful: they had failed repeatedly to maintain peace and to provide for a continent ravaged by the Black Plague. As a result, Europeans began to question these institutions and the underlying assumptions which kept them in power.
In addition, the Crusades had introduced Europe to trade routes and new goods from Asia. The resulting increase in commerce led to a wealthier, more powerful merchant class in Europe. Members of this middle class spent their fortunes on works like new schools, magnificent buildings, paintings, and sculptures, much of it intended for public enjoyment. Such extravagant public displays of wealth helped to elevate the status of any merchant who chose to become a patron of the arts.
Introducing the Renaissance - approximately 1300s-1600s
The term renaissance literally means “rebirth.” This was a period in Europe when major change was taking place. In many ways, it was the rebirth (return) of Europe as it had been during the days of Ancient Greece and Rome. Trade increased, merchants became wealthy, new learning took place, interest in the arts blossomed, and towns and cities grew. The gloom and despair of the Middle Ages had been chased away by the brilliance of a new era, the Renaissance!
Create a graphic organizer which students can access over and over as the unit continues, using bubbl.us (reviewed here) or Gliffy (reviewed here). Use your class or teacher account to create the organizer. Keep the link to it handy for students to reopen it throughout the rest of the unit and for study.
Procedure for "Characteristics of Renaissance" lecture/discussion
*Alternative, student-centered option for classrooms with laptops/computers:
(See student page for this activity)
Assign students to work with a partner to determine at least three characteristics of the Renaissance from research on their own and explain them on the class wiki page assigned to their group. Require them to include links to examples and a bibliography of the sources they use (including full bibliography, not just a link).
When this assignment is complete, have students share their findings on your projector or interactive whiteboard using the wiki pages as a hub to share their findings. Look for commonalities and guide the discussion to reach consensus on the major points you wish them to agree upon . . . without "giving" them the answers. One effective tool for reaching this consensus would be to create a graphic organizer, using bubbl.us (reviewed here) or Gliffy (reviewed here), which students can access over and over as the unit continues. Use your class or teacher account to create the organizer. A bubbl.us organizer can actually be embedded within the class wiki! Put it on the home page of your Renaissance section.