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McREL Standards Activity

Personalities of the Renaissance

Purpose:As a result of this activity, students will have a greater understanding of the individuals and ideas of the Renaissance.
Related Standard & Benchmarks:
World History
 Standard 27.Understands how European society experienced political, economic, and cultural transformations in an age of global intercommunication between 1450 and 1750
   Level IV [Grade 9-12]
   Benchmark 7. Understands significant individuals and ideologies that emerged during the Renaissance and Reformation (e.g., the basic arguments in The Prince by Machiavelli; works of Renaissance writers and elements of Humanism in these works; individuals and factors that contributed to the revival of Greco-Roman art, architecture, and scholarship; differing ideas on women's roles in the Protestant household; social oppression and conflict in Europe during the Renaissance, as contrasted with humanist principles of the time)
Language Arts
 Standard 1.Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process
   Level III [Grade 6-8]
   Benchmark 9. Writes biographical sketches (e.g., illustrates the subject’s character using narrative and descriptive strategies such as relevant dialogue, specific action, physical description, background description, and comparison or contrast to other people; reveals the significance of the subject to the writer; presents details in a logical manner)
Student Product:Biographical sketch
Material & Resources:A variety of resources (e.g., websites, books) containing biographical information on specific individuals from the Renaissance.
Teacher's Note:If you are doing the Extension portion of the activity, you should have the students record their choices on a group list in order to prevent duplication.
Imagine that you are a reporter for the "Society" section of the newspaper The Renaissance Times.  It’s nearing the end of the 18th Century, and the newspaper is running a special Millennium series.  Using available resources, you and your staff (your classmates) must each write a biography of a significant individual of your time (the Renaissance period).  You may choose an individual from any of the following areas:
  • Architecture
  • Art
  • Exploration and Discovery
  • Government
  • Literature
  • Religion
  • Science and Invention
Your biography must include the significant events from the individual’s life, his or her major accomplishments, and an explanation of how the individual and his or her work exemplified one or more transformations in ideologies during the age of global intercommunication between 1450 and 1750.  You can also make some "predictions" as to how this individual will be viewed by future generations.

Compile the biographies into a "newspaper;" encourage students to volunteer their assistance (e.g., interested students could design a cover or headline for the paper).  Distribute the paper so the students can review the biographies.  Then facilitate a class discussion focusing on which individuals from each area had the most significant impact on their society, as well as which individuals had the most impact on today’s society.