The Renaissance has multiple classroom uses and teaching strategies are suggested for each of several options. However, these suggestions should not be considered the "be all and end all" of possibilities. Teachers are likely to have their own ideas about how to use these materials in their classrooms. Teachers know their students best, and have the best and most professional knowledge of their curriculum and their learners, which puts them in the best position to make the most informed choices.
Before using The Renaissance, it is a good idea that you first preview the materials so that you become familiar with the contents, the navigation and the variety of details. This preparation will allow you to acquaint yourself with the scope and sequence of the material, and understand about navigation and means of locating information. It will also allow you to introduce the contents knowledgeably to your students and respond to their questions.
Whole class viewing
You may choose to have the whole class view The Renaissance, in several sittings, as they would watch a video or DVD. For this option, you would need a large screen hook up, and additional speakers, so that all students may view the images and hear the stories clearly. Without such "extras" whole-class viewing on a small computer screen is a very bad idea.
Choosing whole class viewing puts the control of the program into the hands of the teacher. If this approach is used, it is suggested that only selected sections of TheRenaissance be shown in a single sitting. (It should be noted that running without a break, it takes roughly one hour to view.)
After viewing any section of The Renaissance, it is suggested that this be followed up by group discussion, in which the teacher asks one or more of the study questions found in the Further Study section. Students may also select projects from the list that are done individually or in cooperative learning groups, to extend their studies about this diverse time period from the many different perspectives. Students may also be assigned, or choose to gather additional background information about people, places, events, from the web links that connect them directly to the Internet.
With whole class viewing, some ingenuity will be needed to provide access to the web links, since it would be difficult to view data from the Internet in a whole class setting. Perhaps small groups of students can be assigned selected websites, to gather information and report on their findings to the rest of the class?
Whole class viewing can lead easily to whole class discussion on any topic or issue, and it is suggested that teachers make the most of the narratives by focusing discussion on the big ideas in a particular section.
Small group viewing
Where teachers feel comfortable giving small groups of students control over their learning, this material is a useful resource for small-group work. With very little introduction needed, a group of students is given The Renaissance, with suggestions for which part they are required to view.
One student from the group is elected as "navigator" as all view the images and listen to the narrative. Students should be encouraged to stop the narration (using the pause button) and discuss any event, or raise any questions with each other. The advantages of small group work are that it gives students more control over their learning, encourages and fosters group interactivity, and promotes the search for understanding.
Different groups take turns viewing the different parts of The Renaissance, after which they engage in whole-class discussion on the study questions, the case questions, or questions initiated by the teacher, highlighting important events, issues, people.
Small group viewing makes it possible for students to gain immediate access to the web links, and gather background data to further inform their understanding and broaden their knowledge base.