Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Regional Renaissances

Thomas Lucey


Students discover the differences between the Renaissance and the Northern Renaissance through group interaction and discussion.


The student knows major events that shaped the development of various cultures (for example, development and spread of major religions).

The student understands selected historical events that have shaped the development of selected cultures (for example, the spread of Communism in Asia).


-Discussion Task Sheets for each student (see Associated File)
-Easel pad


1. Download the Discussion Task Sheets (see Associated File), make copies and cut the sheets (there are two of each task on the one sheet for paper conservation) for the students.
2. Have easel pad and marker available for use.


1. Inform the students that the Renaissance was a “rebirth” of new thoughts and ideas in Europe brought about by contact with other world cultures. It brought an end to the era of European feudalism in many states, with the development of the middle class. During this time, some European countries unified, as lords were able to consolidate power. In Germany (the Holy Roman Empire) and Italy, unification did not occur. In the Italian city-states, most notably Florence, the wealth of merchants from trade allowed for patronage of many artists so they could develop their talents. Religious themes prevailed as new religious ideas were introduced by traders from the Holy Lands and from other cultures. As these ideas spread, conflicting ideas between the Church and the Kings developed. The Northern Renaissance produced a focus on artists' interpretation of life around them. This focus required diplomacy as these interpretations conflicted with state security. If time permits, allow students to explore the two WebLinks for further information about the Northern Renaissance and the Renaissance.

2. Artists during these periods had talents which they developed for their ways of life. Instruct the students to list three hobbies they enjoy doing in their spare time which do not use technology/machines.

3. Instruct the class to count off by 4’s and break up into their groups.

4. Tell the class that they are artists in late medieval Europe. Each group will need to develop a list of subjects that they would to like to explore with their arts.

5. Provide each group with Discussion Task Sheets (see Associated File) of the conditions they will make decisions under.

6. After 10 minutes of discussion, ask each group to list the subjects they came up with and observe similarities and differences between them (record on easel pad).

7. Review the procedure with the class and remind them that the themes for the subjects result from the environments in which they were created.

8. Encourage the students to consider how relationships with the church and with the state affected their themes and content.

9. Assign the writing of compositions explaining how the role of the church and the effects of nationalism would have made life for artists in the Renaissance and Northern Renaissance different. Share the assessment checklist (see Assessments) with students.

10. Formatively assess the compositions using the checklist in Assessments.


Students develop a composition explaining how the role of the church and the effects of nationalism would have made life for artists in the Renaissance and Northern Renaissance different.

Assessment Checklist:

-Displays understanding of the Renaissance.
-Displays understanding of the Northern Renaissance.
-Demonstrates understanding of the church and its role in artistic expressions.
-Demonstrates understanding of nationalism and its impact on artistic expressions.
-Displays use of activities to support concepts.


Two possible essay questions to extend this lesson are:
1. Based on this exercise, how do you think life would be different today if Medieval Europe did not have contact with other cultures?
2. Why do you think it might be important to visit an Art Gallery, or to see an old stage show or movie based on this exercise?

Note: This lesson also meets the following Tennessee standards:

National Council of Social Studies Standards
Time, Continuity, and Change
Individuals Groups and Institutions
Power, Authority, and Governance

Tennessee Curriculum Frameworks
Social Studies Grades 6-8 Guidelines


Standard 1: Students will exhibit a knowledge of history, identifying and describing major events, people, and trends. To achieve this standard, the learner will:

World History Standards - Era 4: Expanding Zones of Exchange and Encounter (300 - 1000 AD)
Investigate feudalism and the rise of the Christian church as the dominant factors in Medieval Europe.

United States History Standards - Era 1: Three Worlds Meet (Beginnings to 1620)
Explain the expanding intercontinental exchange and encounters brought on by exploration and colonization.

Web Links

A brief description of the Northern Renaissance with links to select artists from that era.
The Northern Renaissance

A tour of the Renaissance including characters, locations, chronology, etc.
The Virtual Renaissance

Attached Files

Discussion Task Sheets.     File Extension: pdf

Return to the Beacon Lesson Plan Library.