At the end of the project last year, our two grade 8 Humanities teachers took the bold step of creating a survey to ask students what they thought/learned from the project. From the student responses a clear theme emerged:
Students felt they learned a great deal about both the Italian Renaissance and current conditions in Calgary – but would have appreciated an opportunity to re-imagine or redesign parts of Calgary based on what they discovered about Renaissance conditions. They felt they didn’t get a chance to act on their findings.
With that in mind, this year’s Renaissance Project picked up where last year’s project left off.
Similar to last year, the first portion of the project was for grade 8 students to study the changes and developments that occurred during the Italian Renaissance. This year, part of this background knowledge was covered by an integrated digital resource that the teachers created for the students. This resource provided students with some introductory background knowledge supplemented with inquiry questions and links to extension videos. You can access this resource here.
After discovering the conditions of the Italian Renaissance, the students then considered if the changes and developments that occurred during in Italy during the 15th and 16th century, are occurring in Calgary today.
To provide direction for the study, our students were linked with Calgary experts in the areas of commerce, education, religion, science, communication, art, and culture. Each group member came up with 2-3 interview questions to ask their expert in order to determine if the changes and developments they discovered in Renaissance Italy are occuring in contemporary Calgary. This lead to a horseshoe debate.
Finally, students were give the opportunity to consider how we might foster the positive qualities and characteristics of Italian Renaissance city states in contemporary Calgary.
Applying their understanding of both the Italian Renaissance and the similar conditions in Calgary, students began to re-design or re-imagine different elements of our city. Areas that students chose to redesign were:
Schools for the 21st Century
A new Calgary Arts Museum
A more ‘renaissance’ inspired city hall and town centre
Developing more public spaces
Building greater community spirit
Political implications of social media
The project capped off by a Renaissance Symposium that was held at the Science School on March 2nd. This event was attended by the 100 grade 8 students, as well as dozens of local experts from a variety of different sectors. The focus of the symposium was to allow for a sharing of ideas about how might might be re-designed or re-developed to achieve a greater quality of living for our citizens.
This event was kicked off by a keynote address by Dr. David Jardine, professor of Curriculum Theory from the University of Calgary. After the keynote address, students shared their ideas for a more Renaissance-like Calgary through videos, displays, and digital animations. You can see the keynote address, and examples of the student work below.