Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

We Want a Reformation!

Global Age

Chelsee Wilson, Lindsey Link | Published: July 12th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 10th
  • Subject Subject Social Studies
  • Course Course World History
  • Time Frame Time Frame 2-3 class period(s)
  • Duration More 180 minutes


In this lesson, students reflect on the diversity of the churches in their community before exploring the causes and key figures of the Protestant Reformation and making connections to how the Reformation affected what they see in their community today.

Essential Question(s)

How do theological movements influence history?



Students will create a list of the "types" of churches they see in their communities.


Students will explore the meaning of "Protestant Reformation" and listen to a brief explanation by a historian.


Students will Jigsaw readings over different events of the Reformation.


Students will participate in a Historical Mingle activity over key Reformation figures.


Students will debrief their roles in the Historical Mingle activity and fill out a graphic organizer.


  • Pens/pencils

  • Lesson Slides- We Want a Reformation! (attached)

  • Reformation Documents Packet (attached; one per student)

  • Jigsaw Graphic Organizer (attached; one per student)

  • Historical Mingle Activity Cards- We Want a Reformation! (attached; one card per student)

  • Historical Mingle Graphic Organizer- We Want a Reformation! (attached; one per student)

  • Highlighters

  • Chart Pad, chalkboard, or whiteboard


10 Minute(s)

Begin the lesson using the attached Lesson Slides.

Display the first question on slide 2: How many churches do you see in your community?

Click to the next question on the slide and ask students: What types of churches do you see in your community? Using a chalkboard, whiteboard, or piece of paper, ask students to brainstorm a list of the types of churches they see in their community.

Once the list has been created, click to the next question on the slide and ask: Which churches might we have seen 500 years ago in communities in Europe?

Display slide 3. Introduce the title of the lesson; then move to the lesson's Essential Question on slide 4: How do theological movements influence history?

Over the course of this lesson, ask students to think about these questions in relation to the Protestant Reformation and the roles and motivations of various key figures in that conflict. Move to slide 5, which introduces the Lesson Objectives. Address these expectations with students to prepare them for their learning.


20 Minute(s)

Write the words PROTESTANT REFORMATION on a chalkboard, whiteboard, or chart paper. Ask students to identify any other words that might see within the two words.

Ask students to predict what they think happened in the Protestant Reformation based on the word search. Write down any guesses on the whiteboard.

Explain to students that the video they will watch has a three-fold purpose:

  • To explain what preparation is necessary to become a history or theology professor;

  • To describe the work that history and theology professors do;

  • To identify the significance of the Protestant Reformation and the influence of early reformers.

Encourage students to reflect on their predictions and hypotheses as they listen to Professor Paul Koelpin's from Martin Luther College.

Display slide 6 to play the video.

When the video has ended, ask students to share out their thoughts about the video. Ask students if their predictions were accurate. Allow time for student responses. Explain to students that they will be reading documents related to the Protestant Reformation and to keep Professor Koelpin's explanations in mind as they read.


60 Minute(s)

Pass out copies of the attached Reformation Documents Packet handout (95 Theses, Diet of Worms, Edict of Nantes, Peace of Augsburg, and Pope Clement VII) to students, along with highlighters. Each of the documents in this packet is an article about a specific event or person that is integral to understanding the Reformation. Explain to students that they will be responsible for reading and becoming an expert on one document in the packet.

After assigning documents to individual students, display slide 7. Introduce the Why-Lighting strategy for text annotation. As students highlight the important facts in their assigned document, have them make notes in the document margin about why they chose to highlight that particular information. Allow ample time for students to read and consider their documents, to highlight, and to make notations.

When everyone has completed the Why-Lighting assignment, assign students to groups. Be sure there is only one representative of each reading per group. Since there are five readings, assign students into 3-4 groups.

Once students have divided into groups, move to slide 8. Distribute a copy of the attached Jigsaw Graphic Organizer handout to each student. Introduce the Jigsaw instructional strategy to the class. The purpose of the Jigsaw strategy is to have each student, who has become an expert on their assigned reading during the Why-Lighting activity, reveal their acquired knowledge to their classmates. Students share responsibility for each others' learning while developing group communication and close-reading skills.

Once they are experts about their assigned documents, have students share out what they have learned to the rest of the group. Ask group members to fill out the corresponding portion of their Jigsaw Graphic Organizer as each student discusses their respective reading.


Advise students that they will be handed a card with a name, a description, and a photograph.

Distribute the prepared Historical Mingle Activity Cards randomly, one to each member of the class, and introduce the Historical Mingle learning strategy on slide 9. Ask students to read the description carefully and think about how they can assume the role of the character on their card. Give students 2–3 minutes to read through their roles and determine how they will present themselves, as outlined on slides 10 and 11. Slide 10 has a three (3) minute timer and slide 11 has a two (2) minute timer. Encourage students to use the information they learned about their historical figure in the Jigsaw reading as they assume their roles.

Once students have assumed their roles, invite them to get up from their seats, seek out another character in the class, introduce themselves, and mingle. Display slides 12 and 13 and give students 2-3 minutes to mingle with their partner; then ask them to find a new partner. Continue until students have mingled with three to four partners. Slide 12 has a three (3) minute timer. Slide 13 has a two (2) minute timer.

If students struggle with asking questions, share the following list of general questions, which should prompt the respondents to consider their role during the Reformation. After students have visited with several other historical figures, have them return to their seats.

  1. What is the significance of the Protestant Reformation?

  2. Why did Martin Luther write his 95 Theses?

  3. What is your opinion of indulgences?

  4. How did the Protestant Reformation change society?

  5. What would have happened if Martin Luther's ideas had never been posted or never spread?

  6. What would have happened if Martin Luther had recanted his 95 Theses?

  7. What would have happened if Martin Luther had been executed after the Diet of Worms?

  8. Why did Henry IV convert from Protestantism to Catholicism?

  9. What would you have done if you had been a Huguenot in 1865 when Kind Louis XIV revoked the Edit of Nantes?

  10. What do you think happened to Jewish and Muslim citizens in Europe during the Middle Ages?

  11. What was Henry VIII's motive for starting the Church of England?

  12. What do you think students should know about the Protestant Reformation?


Distribute a copy of the attached Historical Mingle Graphic Organizer to each student.

Have students debrief and discuss the Historical Mingle. Use slides 14 - 21 to guide the discussion. As you move to each slide, ask the student(s) who played this role to respond to the questions shown. As students answer and discuss their roles, the class should fill in the Historical Mingle Graphic Organizer.

Students can turn in their Six Word Memoir, Historical Mingle Graphic Organizer, and Jigsaw Graphic Organizer for formative assessment.