In this possible culminating challenge, students learn about the influence of significant individuals during the Renaissance, e.g., Leonardo da Vinci, Ignatius Loyola, Rabelais, Christopher Columbus, by portraying an interview between an assigned historical individual and a modern-day journalist. Students also decide which three historical persons contributed most to shaping the Western worldview.
A. Portray an interview between a significant person from the Renaissance period and a modern-day journalist.
Introduce the role-play
Introduce the challenge by explaining that students will work with a partner to portray two characters: a significant figure from the Renaissance period and a modern-day journalist.
You may wish to begin by showing excerpts from a contemporary time-travel movie that tells the story of an important historical figure who interacts with a person in the present. Contemporary time-travel films include Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, Blast from the Past and Kate and Leopold (see References).
Research significant Renaissance people
Arrange for each student to research a significant Renaissance person, such as those listed in Key Renaissance Individuals (Background Information). Students are to develop a profile of the individual, including vital statistics, time line, personality characteristics and significant contributions.
You may wish to adapt the charts and strategies in Character Profile found in Collecting Information (Support Material) to structure and assess students’ research.
Form interview teams to prepare questions
Each student is to assume the role of a modern-day journalist investigating the accomplishments and worldview of the historical figure. The goal is to learn how that individual may have shaped the Western worldview.
Assign students to work with a partner to prepare interview questions for both historical characters. Ask students to share the historical profiles with each other. Explain that good journalists ask powerful questions—ones that are informative, relevant to the person’s expertise and not obvious.
For detailed suggestions on teaching students to generate powerful questions, see Asking Powerful Questions (Modelling the Tools).
In role, each partner group presents its interview in a mock talk show.
Alternatively, you may prefer that partner groups present their interviews initially to a panel of peers. Each panel nominates the most influential figure to be interviewed at the mock talk show.
B. Which three Renaissance individuals contributed most to shaping the Western worldview?
Develop criteria for rating the influence of historical people
As a class, develop a list of criteria for rating influence of historical people. Post the list for later use. Criteria for ratings might include:
- impact on the world at the time
- change that can be seen today.
Rate the most significant individuals
After all interviews have been conducted, invite students to respond, individually, to the question: Which three individuals have contribute most to shaping the Western worldview? Review the criteria for rating the influence of historical people and direct students to use these criteria to rate the candidates.
You may wish to adapt the chart Rating Each Effect and strategies in Rating Options (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity. If using this template, list the figures in the left-hand column and record the criteria for significant influence at the top of the remaining columns. Students record evidence of each criterion for each significant figure.
To meet diverse learning needs, you may want to ask students to focus on one or two individuals rather than three.
Share ratings with the class
Invite students to share their results with the class.
Extension: Interview of journalist by Renaissance character
Invite students to continue in their roles as a Renaissance person and a journalist, but to reverse interviewer/interviewee roles. The Renaissance person may now interview the journalist to find out how the historical contributions are viewed, used or changed today. For example, Cortés might inquire about his historical legacy regarding the colonization and treatment of Aboriginal peoples.