In this challenge, students explore major Renaissance contributions in fields such as astronomy, mathematics, science, politics, religion, art, literature, philosophy and exploration. Students prepare a presentation or a display about the impact of the most significant developments in an assigned field on the exchange of ideas, the growth of knowledge and shifts in worldviews.
A. Critically examine the impact of major Renaissance contributions on the development of the Western worldview.
Introduce the project
Inform students that they will prepare an illustrated document or a presentation entitled "The Teenagers' Guide to Major Developments in the Renaissance." The purpose is to inform other students about contributions in a particular field. Students may choose from these fields:
Develop criteria for determining significant impact
Before students conduct their research, discuss the following criteria for judging the impact of developments in an assigned field:
- lasting nature of the impact (long term)
- degree of change brought about within the field
- ripple effect in other fields of activity.
Research and rate the impact of major developments
After students have been assigned a field, ask them to conduct their research (see References).
Distribute a note-taking template such as the chart Rating Impact in Rating Options (Support Material). If you use this template, write the heading Major Developments in the left-hand column.
In completing the chart, students are to provide the following information:
- describe the major developments in their assigned fields, including the dates, locations and spread of the developments
- rate the significance of the impact of each development on the Medieval and/or Renaissance worldview
- provide evidence to support their ratings of the degree to which the developments influenced worldviews.
B. Create an effective illustrated presentation or a display to explain the key developments in an assigned field and their impact.
As Renaissance "experts," students use their research to prepare an illustrated presentation or a display on the most significant contributions in their assigned field. Emphasize that the maps, drawings or images are as important as the written text. Encourage students to use thematic maps or webs to trace the impact of developments.
Develop the criteria for an effective presentation or display, such as:
- convincing—explains the impact of the developments
- historically accurate—reflects the Renaissance worldview
- concise—focuses only on key developments
- clearly written—easy to understand and grammatically correct
- well illustrated—enhances the written text with drawings, images and maps.
You may want to suggest a framework, such as the What? So What? Now What? structure:
- brief overview of the major developments (What?)
- significance of the developments: the positive and negative impacts on other people in the field and on the common person (So What?)
- change in worldviews, including the modern-day Western worldview (Now What?).
For detailed instructions on preparing illustrated presentations and displays, see Creating Persuasive and Effective Visuals (Modelling the Tools) and Designing an Exhibit (Modelling the Tools).
Share displays and presentations
Arrange for students to present their conclusions to the class. Following the presentations, invite students to determine the two or three areas with the greatest impact.