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Mitch Lopate


Language Arts, Social Studies  




Mitch Lopate

EDU 557.31; Dr. Gallagher

Lesson Plan 5 – Grade 8

Topic:  Autobiography and training of a Guildsperson

Subjects:  Language Arts, Social Studies

Type of Lesson:  Reinforcement and Evaluation



1.      To promote student’s creative writing

2.      To introduce students to extensive, in-depth accounts of a skilled person’s life in Renaissance Europe.

3.      To develop student’s writing and research skills.

4.      To introduce the relevance of job training skills applicable to Renaissance life and modern times through the process of an autobiography.


Lesson Objectives:

1.      Given a series of handouts, students will read and answer questions to be assessed through an autobiographical essay that identifies their choice of apprenticeship. (Knowledge/Comprehension.)

2.      Given a set of questions to be answered from the handout and assessed through a rubric, students will compare and contrast specific issues applicable to their guild.  (Affective/Responding).

3.      After conducting cooperative learning research, students will work effectively in small groups of fellow apprentices guilds to gather and exchange ideas about lifestyles and membership to be assessed through a questionnaire on participation and contribution.  (Affective/Organizing)


The class will view an A&E Biography series video on two Renaissance figures (da Vinci & Michelangelo) and Benjamin Franklin.  The teacher will ask the class to record notes on the training and education the men  received and how it influenced their creative endeavors.  The class will review the autobiographical writing learned from previous reading on the life of Benjamin Franklin and how his life was enhanced by versatility developed through various trades.  This will be compared to the videos and similar experiences by the two masters.  Ideas will be directed toward a discussion of the qualities, topics and highlights to be emphasized in the student’s Renaissance autobiography. 





Student’s notes on the Renaissance

Leonardo da Vinci:  Renaissance Master – A&E Biography series

Michelangelo – Artist & Man – A&E Biography series

Benjamin Franklin: Citizen of the World – A&E Biography Series

Handouts on guild memberships

Handouts on National Geographic feature “Ben Franklin”



Lesson Development:

1.      The class will view the videos over a two-day period and discuss significant events in the lives of the three men. 

2.      The concepts of an autobiography will be discussed and how it related to the videos:

  1. It describes goals set by an individual.
  2. It describes philosophies of life that were learned through experience.
  3. It describes accomplishments and learning skills that have been developed through work

3.      The teacher will list the guild memberships that students may use in researching their autobiographies:

  1. Master Builder
  2. Master Printer
  3. Alchemist, Scientist, Astronomer
  4. Artist, Glassblower, Sculptor, Musician, Musical Instrument Maker, Composer
  5. Barber/Surgeon, Physician, Herbalist (Apothecary)
  6. Mercer, Cloth merchant, Weaver

g.       Lawyer, Judge, Banker

h.       Master Cook/Chef

4.      Students will receive the questions to be answered in their autobiography according to their guild selection.  Example:

Master Builder


You are to be apprenticed to a Master Builder designing a Palatial Estate, Cathedral, Hospital, University, Globe Theatre, place of business, designing a town mall (marketplace)



– Name of your guild? Philosophy of design? Terms and vocabulary unique to your guild’s work?  Who have been the innovators in your field of study? What has each contributed of significant importance? Where did each master get his ideas? Any special study that he did, place he visited, things he observed and applied to what he is passing on to you? For what donations is your guild responsible and why? What artwork has your guild been required to commission? What should be kept secret and why?


What construction skills and techniques must you learn or know about? What are the hazards of your work? Math: What mathematical ‘news’ is there that will help you? Technology (tools) available? What innovative technology can be built into your work or have you or others discovered? (14th to 17th century versions of 20th century technology? Is the older better? In what ways?) Special features of your project that you must build into your design? Technology needed?  (You may have to do some inventing to complete your project – but within the limits of the Renaissance.)


Sanitation: a concern in design? Particular problems you may run into with your project? Building materials available from where? Special guilds for them? Decorative art for your design? What other guild(s) will you need to know about or use? In what way(s)?


What have you learned that 20th century architects and builders use today as a result of ideas and techniques of the Renaissance ( or what the Renaissance borrowed from earlier centuries)?


5.   Students will be encouraged to work in groups that match their choice of guilds to promote cooperative learning.   Project time will be 14 days.



1.      What skilled training was available during the Renaissance period?  To whom was it available?  Were some areas restricted?  Why?  Could this be overcome?

2.      What were the terms of service?  Could they be canceled (could an apprentice leave at their discretion?).  What was the meaning of the word “apprentice”?  Why were positions so coveted?  What forms of public education existed to develop these skills and training?

3.      Which trades held the most respect?  Why?  Were there any forms of job security?  How were wages evaluated and distributed?  Were there opportunities for advancement?



Lesson Follow-Up:

1.      Ask students to create a draft on paper or diskette of their own autobiography. What job skills might students include if they wrote their own autobiography?  How did they learn them?  Which skills would they want to develop?

2.      Review samples of resumes with students.  Ask them to create a rough draft of their own resume.  Ask them to assume a skill or position that they would like to pursue or accomplish as background, if necessary.


Adaptations for Special Purposes:

If the student is emotionally disturbed or neurologically impaired, they will have a chance to work with an in-class support teacher or have the help of the classroom teacher.  They will be given extra time for the assignment and have the teacher work on the writing process and research with them.  If the student has trouble comprehending the assignment, a high level learner or older peer tutor may assist them or be assigned.  If the student is deaf, or interpreter work with them, or close-captioned video will be ordered.  In addition, they will have the directions written on ditto sheets. 



1.      Did the student(s) follow directions given on the handouts of their guild?

2.      Did the student(s) draft and final essay contrast and compare specific job skills from the Renaissance to the present?

3.      Did students work cooperatively in groups and help each other?

4.      The following rubric will be used:

·     Students answered all questions in a clear, concise manner and showed significant detail and research:  (A)

·     Students answered approximately 2/3rds of the questions in a clear, concise manner and showed significant detail and research:  (B)

·     Students answered approximately 1/2 of the questions in a clear, concise manner and showed either significant or reasonable detail and research:  (C)

·     Students  answered approximately 1/3 of the questions in a clear, concise or general manner and showed either significant or reasonable detail and research:  (D)


NJ Core Curriculum Standards:

1.4-All students will demonstrate knowledge of the process of critique.

1.5-All students will identify the various historical, social, and cultural influences and traditions which have generated artistic accomplishments throughout the ages and which continue to shape contemporary arts.

2.2-All students will learn health-enhancing personal, interpersonal, and life skills.

3.2-All students will listen actively in a variety of situations to information from a variety of sources.

3.3-All students will write in a clear, concise, organized language that varies in content and form for different audiences and purposes.

3.4-All students will read various materials and texts with comprehension and critical analysis.

3.5-All students will view, understand, and use nontextual visual information.

4.3-All students will connect mathematics to other learning by understanding the interrelationships of mathematical ideas and the roles that mathematics and mathematical modeling play in other disciplines and in life.

5.3-All students will develop an understanding of how people of various cultures have contributed to the advancement of science and technology, and how major discoveries and events have advanced science and technology.

6.4-All students will acquire historical understanding of societal ideas and forces throughout the history of New Jersey, the United States, and the world.

6.6-All students will acquire historical understanding of economic forces, ideas, and institutions throughout the history of New Jersey, the United States, and the world.






Aston, Margaret.  (1996).  The Panorama of the Renaissance.  New York:  Harry N. Abrams.


Atchity, Kenneth J. (Editor) & McKenna, Rosemary (Editor).  (1996)).  The Renaissance Reader.  New York:  Harpercollins.


Black, C.F., Greengrass, Mark, & Howarth, David.  (1993).  Cultural Atlas of the Renaissance.  New York: Macmillan General Reference


Boorstin, Daniel J.  (1983).  The Discoverers:  A History of Man’s Search to Know His World and Himself.  New York:  Random House.


Emerson, Kathy Lynn.  (1996).  The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in Renaissance England.  New York:  Writer’s Digest Books.


Fonte, Moderata & Cox, Virginia (Editor).  (1997).  The Worth of Women : Wherein Is Clearly Revealed Their Nobility and Their Superiority to Men (Other Voice in Early Modern Europe).  Chicago, IL:  University of Chicago Press.


Grun, Bernard.  (1975).  The Timetables of History.  New York:  Touchstone.


Hall, Alice G.  Benjamin Franklin.  National Geographic, Vol. 148, No. 1 (July 1975).

Washington, D.C.:  National Geographic Society.


Jardine, Lisa.  (1996).  Worldly Goods:  A New History of the Renaissance.  New York:

Bantam Doubleday Dell Pub (Traditional).


Jeffery, David.   A Renaissance for Michelangelo.   National Geographic, Vol. 176, No. 6 (December 1989).  Washington, D.C.:  National Geographic Society.


Weber, Eugen.  (1995).  The Western Tradition:  From the Ancient World to Louis XIV.  Lexington, MA:  D. C. Heath and Company


Benjamin Franklin: Citizen of the World.  A&E Biography Series

Leonardo da Vinci:  Renaissance Master.  A&E Biography series.

Michelangelo – Artist & Man.  A&E Biography series.

Sister Wendy’s Story of Painting.  The Renaissance.  BBC WorldWide Americas.


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