Students learn about the rise of powerful Italian city-states during the
Renaissance by ranking city-states in terms of their influence in shaping a
This task provides opportunities for students to work individually, in small
groups and in whole class discussion. Students are provided with an imaginary
context that mirrors a real-life scenario requiring ranking and decision-making
skills that are part of this critical challenge.
Introduce the student task
Present students with Great City-states of the Renaissance (Lesson
Material). Discuss what students will need to know and do in order to be successful
with the task. Share the Rubric for Great City-states of the Renaissance (Assessment)
with the students to guide their work and assist with formative assessment.
Identify criteria for a powerful city-state
Discuss the development of Renaissance city-states and identify ways that
city-states might have an influence on citizens and beyond. To develop criteria
for a powerful city-state, consider these factors:
- economic—trading centre
- political—control of territory, powerful allegiances
- artistic—noted artists, influence of art
- social and intellectual—noted thinkers, acceptance of ideas
- military—significant armed forces.
Compare the influence of city-states
Provide the students with excerpts of texts, visual images and maps relating
to three Renaissance Italian city-states: Venice, Florence and Genoa. Use basic
authorized student resources to find visuals. Direct students to research and
compare the three city-states.
Encourage students to record specific evidence for each factor using the graphic
organizer Comparing City-states of the Renaissance (Graphic
Encourage students to include research on the influence of governing families
such as the Medici in Florence.
To involve the students in formative self-reflection, provide Student
Self-reflection Checklist: Providing Evidence (Assessment) . See
the Assessment section below for more information on the use of the formative
Rank the influence of city-states
Involve students in a discussion as to how the criteria and the evidence focus
the decision-making process. For example, pose specific questions such as:
- How do the type and strength of an economy impact the influence of a city-state?
- How does military strength impact the influence of a city-state?
- Can the social structure of a city-state impact its ability to influence
During the discussion, remind students to provide specific evidence from their
research to support their answers. This models how they will be expected to provide
specific support in their final task. After the class discussion, ask students
to work in pairs to use the information in the graphic organizer Ranking
City-states of the Renaissance (Graphic Organizer) to rank the Italian
city-states from the most to the least influential in each category. Remind students
to provide evidence to support their decisions.
Defend ranking of city-states
Arrange for students to share their rankings of the influence of each city-state
in each category. Invite students to revisit the culminating task that was
presented at the beginning of the challenge. Ask students to consider how
they will approach making a decision if a city-state has high rankings in
some areas but low rankings in other areas. Does a city-state need to rank
first in all areas to be the most influential city-state? Which areas might
be more important than others?
Assign the culminating task.
In addition to information gathered in their research,
students will use information from discussions
with partners, in small groups and as a whole
Provide opportunities for students to engage in
peer review of their product using the checklists
in Peer Coaching Feedback: Communicating
Effectively in an Oral Presentation (Assessment) and Peer
Coaching Feedback: Communicating Effectively in
a Written Presentation (Assessment). See
the Assessment section for more information on
the use of formative assessment tools.