by Joli Moore, ETSU

This webquest is designed to help students understand the Islamic Revolution and the Iran/Iraq war as a whole before/during/after reading Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.

Teacher Introduction

My greatest hope of teaching is to provide a student-centered classroom in which the focus is the material that needs to be covered in ways the students will appreciate and comprehend the most.  Two of my main objectives in teaching this particular lesson are technology in the classroom and researching appropriate websites.  I think it is very important to integrate technology as much as possible in the classroom because our society is so technology driven.  Students will be hard pressed to find a job that does not deal with some type of technology, and thus if we do not try to integrate it then we are not fully preparing them for life after our class and high school.  Webquests are designed to facilitate learning through teacher designated websites.  These websites provide a model for where to find research and why those sites are appropriate and accurate.  A good side lesson for this assignment would be ?What to Look for in a Good/Appropriate/Accurate Website.?   PowerPoint is also a valuable tool to teach and/or use in the classroom.  Students are asked to do this in higher level classes and they need to understand how to use them in an English Literature capacity.  Another alternate lesson would be ?How to create a PowerPoint.?  Most students are learning these skills in junior high, but it is still helpful to give them a handout outlining how to do basic tasks in Powerpoint.

The assignment itself is designed to only span two to three days in my classroom.  I understand that it might be harder at some schools that might not have many computers in the classroom or a computer lab.  To teachers who have this problem, I understand.  This lesson could be taught using books as well.  So if you can gather other materials for your students to research from this lesson can still work.  Instead of using a PowerPoint the students could make posters or possibly use the overhead projector if that is possible.  Yes, the assignment might span more that the time I have allotted, but it would benefit that students in ways that a normal lecture would not such as allowing the students to engage in teamwork and research.

I decided to make this a group assignment because I do not plan on teaching this graphic novel more than 3 or 4 weeks.  I felt that having my students research and teach the background which includes history and culture would provide an engaging way for the students to learn from one another and to avoid the usual history lecture.   Some teachers stray away from group work because it is sometimes harder to grade than individual work.  I agree with the difficulty of grading, but I feel that it is very important as teachers to facilitate teamwork.  Grading wise, I intend to have the students rank their fellow group members, but to also go group to group while they are working to see if everyone is helping.  It is not enough to simply let students get to work and rank themselves, because then as the teacher you are not fully doing your job.  The individual students? work will also be apparent when they do their part of the teaching.   When explaining the assignment it is important to stress that each student must have a speaking part when showing their PowerPoint to the class.  If this point is not stressed, the students will only allocate one or two group members to do all of the speaking.

Access to the computers


I presented this webquest before a class of my peers and colleagues before publishing, and I faced a good question:  when should the background or history of a book be taught?  I created this webquest with the conception that the background of a book or novel should be taught before the students read the material.  After being faced with this question, however, I found that my answer changed.  Most of the time, a student?s reaction to the book is based on their preconceived notion of the material.  After hearing from my peers and colleagues, I do not want to alter that innate reaction that my students are bound to have when reading Persepolis.  With that being said, I would not simply teach the background after, but make my lesson and webquest a progressive journey for my students.  I plan to have them read sections of the book and then we would learn and discuss the background and culture.  I think this will also provide more ideas for what to research because it will be dependent on what the students do not understand.  If you, the teacher, do not agree with a progressive lesson, the webquest I have designed is very flexible and can be used before, during, or after the students have read the material.  I encourage you to use it however it best suites you and your students.

In teaching Persepolis, I also plan on having a family and friend tree, which will allow the students to fill in the blanks of Marji?s family and friends as they read the book.  This will help them keep up the names and, in my opinion, help with the discussion that we will have in class so that they remember significant events and the people that were apart of that event.  Another idea that I had was to provide them with a timeline of the progression of events of the Islamic Revolution and the war between Iran and Iraq.  By providing the students with these materials, they will have a visual of the progression of events and names in hopes of avoiding confusion. 

In addition to these teaching aides, I found a plethora of pictures of the Islamic Revolution and the war between Iran and Iraq on These pictures will also add as another visual so that the students are reminded that the events that are talked about in Persepolis are real.  Sometimes when a student is too far removed from a subject and only read or hear about it they do not receive an accurate view of the material.  These pictures in my opinion will help them understand the accuracy of this book and provide real pictures to aide the graphic novel.  I encourage you as teachers to show these pictures to your students (Some of the pictures are graphic, so you might want to avoid those depending on grade level).  Another way to help the students understand the novel better is to research the author.  I found many articles that have interviews with Marjane Satrapi and I am aware of at least one actual interview on that would also help the students to understand why Satrapi wrote this novel.  I find it very inspiring to see the author first hand talking about the book I am reading, and by allowing the students to see the interview also, it will hopefully stimulate and inspire them as well.

After reading Persepolis, I plan on reading a snippet of Persepolis 2 in hopes of promoting and inspiring further reading.  I think that Persepolis ends leaving the audience wanting to know more, but sometimes this is not enough for the students to read further.  My hope is to get the ball rolling, so to speak, and by reading some of Perseoplis 2 students will go and buy or check out the book so they can see what happens to Marji and her family.  I plan to keep a copy of the second book in my classroom and they can even check it out from me if they are inspired to read further.  Hopefully, by encouraging and giving a preview they students will want to learn more.

Parents and/or Guardian:

 I hope this webquest also helps you to learn and experience the Iran background and culture.  This lesson gives you, the parent(s) and/or guardian, a chance to interact with your son/daughter and their lesson at school.  This webquest gives you a solid idea of one way I introduce literature in my classroom.  This webquest is designed to help students interact with and research another culture that is the core of one of the books we read in class: Persepolis.  It is my belief that a student cannot fully understand good novel or piece of literature without understand the author and the reasons behind why that person wrote this book.  By designing a webquest, the student is responsible for doing the research and project in guided environment.  If they need help I am there, but it gives them a good chance to branch out on their own and find out the answers themselves.  I have found that students, sometimes, have different questions about other cultures than what a teacher would normally lecture on.  This is an assignment designed specifically to answer the burning questions that the students want to know after reading literature.  I hope that you will also learn something from my site and hopefully you and your child can have a discussion concerning the material.

I hope this webquest helps futher education our students.  If you have any questions, feel free to email me at