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Teachers First: Using Art to Define the Renaissance

Example Web Site and/or Technical Equipment Required


Website Example:

Tech Product Equipment

Computer(s), Internet access, projector

Activity Description

This unit will take students through a process in which they will not only experience masterpieces from the Renaissance, but they will also learn to analyze art, draw conclusions, and, at the advanced level, apply lessons from art to their own lives. In doing so, students will gain an understanding of the characteristics that define the Renaissance. There are two activity paths. One is traditional with teacher-centered activities. The other is student-centered with project-based activities. This activity takes the traditional approach; however, there are detailed lesson plans on the Web site for both activities.


Before beginning this unit, students should already have a basic understanding of the Classical Period and the Middle Ages. Also, teachers should have introduced basics of the Renaissance prior to this activity.

  1. Make sure that the site is not blocked at your school and that the images and student pages can be viewed.
  2. Decide if you want to use the "traditional, teacher-centered" activities or the "student-centered, project-based activities.
  3. Review the appropriate detailed Lesson Plan path  as well as the material the student will be reading. (Use the Student start point links at the bottom of each column.)


Part 1 "Art imitates life"

  1. Class discussion (Show student page for this activity). Guide students in evaluating the accuracy of this statement.
  2. Have students view two photos, Iwo Jima Photo and Phantom Towers Photo
  3. Have students write a concluding statement based on the class discussion. Write a few of these on the board.
  4. See alternative, student-centered activity for classroom with laptops/computers available.

Part 2 "Characteristics of Renaissance"

  1. Introduce the Renaissance
  2. Share the interactive Characteristics of the Renaissance.
  3. Direct students to the second student activity page if computers are available.
  4. Create a graphic organizer, which students can access throughout the lesson.

Part 3 Written response applying characteristics of Renaissance.

  1. Have students analyze the Renaissance painting School of Athens by Raphael. Students will describe evidence of each Renaissance characteristic as it appears in the painting.
  2. Direct students to the third student activity page if computers are available.

Part 4 Check for understanding

  1. Give Online “Renaissance or not” quiz

Part 5 Reflection and conclusion

  1. Have students write a reflection on the characteristics that make the most and the least sense to them.

Teacher Tips

  • This lesson was developed to be used by a wide range of ages and abilities (grades 6-10). It can be altered for different ability levels.
  • TeachersFirst editors have included options for more student-centered, project-based activities using technology throughout this mini-unit.
  • You can adjust the time requirements depending on which activities you decide to do.

More Ways

  • Teacher's First is a free teacher resource K-12 topics. You will find over 16,000 educator-reviewed Web resources, searchable by subject/grade or keyword. You can also find lesson plans/units, ready-to-go content you can share on student computers, a projector, or interactive whiteboard, and special topic collections of Web resources. Feel free to explore!

Select subjects and subcategories

Fine Arts

  • Art History

Social Studies

  • World History
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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN200091-A2 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.