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Great City-states of the Renaissance

Rank selected Italian city-states in order of their influence in shaping a Renaissance worldview.

Assessment Outcomes References Related Resources

Suggested Activities

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 Renaissance worldview.

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 Organizer).

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 assessment tools.

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 other city-states?

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 class.

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.

Last updated: July 1, 2014 | (Revision History)
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