Protestant Reformation Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Use this lesson plan to teach students what the Protestant Reformation was, how it began, and how it spread across Europe. Students will start by watching an engaging video lesson, then discuss key concepts before completing an activity.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define and explain the Protestant Reformation
  • describe how the Protestant Reformation spread across Europe
  • discuss reasons for the Protestant Reformation


1 - 1.5 hours


  • Access to technology and/or primary and secondary resources related to the Protestant Reformation
  • Copies of the lesson quiz, one for each student

Key Vocabulary

  • Protestant Reformation
  • Lutheranism
  • Martin Luther
  • Indulgences
  • Calvinism

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.1

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.2

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.3

Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.9

Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.


  • Engage students with the topic by asking them to brainstorm about times in history that a person's protests caused a large change. Allow them to discuss in small groups, then as a whole class.
  • Tell students they will be learning about the Protestant Reformation, a time someone protested a religious practice. Preview vocabulary words and allow students to share prior knowledge, then start the lesson The Spread of the Protestant Reformation Across Europe.
  • Pause at 1:27 and ask:
    • When did the Protestant Reformation happen?
    • What type of movement was the Protestant Reformation?
    • Who began the Protestant Reformation?
    • What was Martin Luther's role?
    • What was the catalyst for Luther's discontent?
    • What are indulgences?
    • What did Luther believe should change?
    • What is the underlying tenant of Lutheranism?
  • Resume the lesson and pause again at 2:57. Discuss:
    • How did the revolution spread across Europe?
    • What did Reuchlin propose?
    • How did Calvin modify Lutheranism?
    • Why didn't Lutheranism become popular in southern regions of Europe?
  • Show students a map of Europe and allow them to identify regions where Lutheranism spread and those it didn't.
  • Play the Lesson Summary and allow students to ask any remaining questions.

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