teaching exchange...
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Download Virtual Renaissance handout

Virtual Renaissance

Students journey back in time to divide and conquer the Renaissance as they explore a website and share their findings with the class. Primary resources, first-person narratives, and images from the past help make this time period come alive so groups of students can discover the changes the Renaissance brought to European society. Every student will leave class with summaries about the economy, arts, religion, law, education, government, and social classes during the Renaissance in hand - or in their handhelds!

Grade Level(s)

Curriculum Area
Social Studies (World History)

Time Required
1-2 class periods

Standards Connections
Materials/Resources Needed
Necessary Technical Skills
Student Activities

Standards Connections
  • National Standards:
    • Curriculum Standards for Social Studies (National Council for the Social Studies) c. Identify and describe significant historical periods and patterns of change within and across cultures, such as the development of ancient cultures and civilizations, the rise of nation-states, and social, economic, and political revolutions; Related Themes: I, V, VIII, X.
    • NETS Standards for Students (International Society for Technology in Education) 8. Select and apply technology tools for research, information analysis, problem-solving, and decision-making in content learning. (technology communications tools, technology research tools)
  • State Standards:
    • Maryland School Performance Program
      Social Studies/ 3.9 Students demonstrate understanding of how European society experienced dramatic political, economic, and cultural transformations through the Renaissance and Reformation.
    • See www.explorasource.com for more state standards connections.
  • District Standards (fill in your own)
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Students will:
  • Describe daily life in one place during the European Renaissance.
  • Infer the effects of the Renaissance through primary resources and first-person narratives.
  • Summarize how the Renaissance changed the way people lived.
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Materials/Resources Needed
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Necessary Technical Skills
  1. Students must be able to open a Pocket Word document, format and edit text, and save the file.
  2. Students must know how to create voice recordings on their handheld computers, access websites using Pocket Internet Explorer, and beam and receive files.
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Student Activities

Step 1
  1. Beam the handout to the first two students as they come through the door. Each student can beam the worksheet to two more students until everyone has the assignment on the handheld. Or email the document to your class.
  2. Divide students into nine groups and assign each group one of the following places to research:
    • Town
    • Courthouse
    • Globe
    • Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
    • University of Padua
    • Tower of London
    • VirRen Castle
    • Sistine Chapel at the Vatican in Rome
    • Hospital of the Innocents
  3. Go over the instructions on the handout with the students. Here are a few technology tips you may want to go over with the class before they begin working:
      a. Recording: You can lower recording quality in order to limit the file size of voice recordings and save memory on the handheld. Go to Start>Settings>Inputand select the Optionstab. In the Voice Recording Formatwindow, try selecting 8,000 Hz, Mono (.7 KB/s). The sound quality of this format is acceptable for the lesson, and file size is roughly 3K per 10 seconds of sound.
      b. Pocket Internet Explorer configuration: The website in this lesson will display best if the text wraps to fit the screen. Within Pocket IE, go to View>Fit to Screenand make sure it is checked.
      c. Internet searching: This website includes sound files that are not compatible with the handheld computer. Remember that you can always play these files for your class on a desktop computer.
  4. The majority of the class period should be spent on group research.

Step 2
  1. After students have completed the Group Project section of the worksheet by researching information on their section, writing a quick summary, and then compiling the group's most important findings, students will present their information to the rest of the class. As some group members review their research with the class, make sure the rest of the group is busy beaming the summary to everyone. After all the groups have presented, every student will have heard about the nine sites and have a summary of each on their own handhelds.
  2. Students should then work individually to summarize all the research by writing about the changes the Renaissance brought to European society. Consider making this part of the activity a homework assignment.

Lesson plan provided by Cindy Schnaar, 9th grade World History teacher, River Hill High School, Howard County, Maryland.
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