Standard Lesson

Gaining Background for the Graphic Novel Persepolis: A WebQuest on Iran

9 - 12
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Eight 50-minute sessions
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The graphic novel Persepolis is set in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Most students are unaware of the changes associated with the events during that time, but the repercussions of the revolution are still being felt throughout the world. Students in the United States therefore need to gain background information on Iran in order to appreciate more fully the experiences of Marjane, the main character of Persepolis. In this lesson, students work in small groups to research a specific topic related to Iran, using a WebQuest to focus their research on relevant and reliable information. After the research is complete, students present their information to the class through a technology-enhanced presentation.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

Persepolis is a novel about a young Iranian girl during the Islamic revolution. In order for students to understand the implications of plot events, they need to be familiar with the culture, society, history, and politics of Iran around the time of the Iranian revolution. The WebQuest included in this lesson gives students a chance to research one aspect of Iranian culture or history, and student-created PowerPoint presentations allow all students to gain knowledge of several different aspects. Because a teacher has designed the WebQuest, it is focused on essential information that will be relevant to the students' reading, and students can trust that the information on the Websites is reliable.

For Further Reading

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
  • 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon, 2003)

  • Film version of Persepolis directed by Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi (2.4.7 Films, 2007)




Student Objectives

Students will

  • work with a group to research information about Iran during the Islamic revolution.

  • design effective PowerPoint slides and accompanying narration.

  • present their findings to the rest of the class.

Session One

  1. Give each student a copy of the Persepolis WebQuest Introduction and Task Sheet and talk through the assignment with them. Use the accompanying Presentation Rubric to show students how their group work will be assessed.

  2. Divide students into six groups and assign each group a topic to research:

    • The Shah of Iran

    • Islam

    • Society in Iran (pre-Islamic Revolution)

    • Society in Iran (post-Islamic Revolution)

    • Culture in Iran (pre-Islamic Revolution)

    • Society in Iran (post-Islamic Revolution)
  3. Then direct students to the Persepolis WebQuest Links page to get started.

  4. Have students review the questions for their topic as a group and decide on the approach they want to take with their research. For example, should each group member search for the answer to one question or should the group work together to answer all questions?

  5. Allow students to use any remaining time to get started on their WebQuest.

Session Two

  1. Give students at least one class period to complete their WebQuests. Students may need additional time in class or at home to finish their research.

  2. Have students use appropriate tools such as the Notetaker or Webbing Tool to take notes and organize their information as they research. Members of the Shah group might also find the Bio-Cube or Timeline tools useful. Students will refer back to their notes as they plan their presentations in the next session.

Session Three

  1. Once the research is complete, have students meet with their groups to determine how to divide up the two minutes and three slides per person allowance noted on the assignment sheet. For example, one person may have three minutes of material that MUST be shared, while another might only require one minute.

  2. After students have agreed on the amount of time and number of slides for which each group member will be responsible, have a brief discussion with students on appropriate PowerPoint slide design.

    • There should be little written material on a slide, except for a title or captions.

    • The text should be short and concise (i.e., viewers should not be “reading” the slide).

    • Images should be the main focus of the slide.

    • Students should narrate the slide presentation.
  3. After the discussion, have students work individually to plan the narration for their presentations, using their research notes to help them write talking points.

  4. Explain that the talking points should include important points they want to make about the subject, as well as specific facts they want to mention.

  5. Work not completed in class should be considered work for home or study hall.

Session Four

  1. Have group members meet to check in with each other about the progress on their narration. Group members should present the main points of their narrations to the group to make sure there is no duplication of ideas. Group members can also offer feedback to each other about talking points and/or suggest text or images that would work well for their slides.

  2. Next, have groups briefly reassess the amount of time and number of slides each member needs. Renegotiation with each other or with the teacher for extra time or slides may be necessary.

  3. Distribute the Creating a PowerPoint Slide handout to students who are unfamiliar with this program. If a number of students in the class are unfamiliar with PowerPoint, hold a brief tutorial before they begin work. Individual students who are unfamiliar with PowerPoint might also use the online PowerPoint in the Classroom tutorial.

  4. Explain to students that they should create their slides to illustrate the main points of their presentation.

  5. As a class, brainstorm some types of text that might work well for a slide, such as brief quotes or key points.

  6. Have students spend a few minutes planning out what text and images will go on each slide.

  7. Allow students to spend the rest of the session working on their PowerPoint slides.

Session Five

  1. Have students put the final touches on their slides and combine slides from individual group members into one presentation.

  2. If students have time, they should also record their narrations.

  3. Ask students to complete any unfinished work on their presentations before the next session.

Session Six

  1. Give students time to run through their presentation in its entirety with their group and troubleshoot any technical issues.

  2. Group members can offer suggestions to each other for improvements in their presentation. Some things they can watch for include:

    • eye contact

    • rate of speech

    • how “memorized” the narration sounds

    • quality of text and images selected for the slides

Sessions Seven and Eight

  1. Have each group present their presentation to the class.

  2. Allow time after each presentation for the class to ask the group questions about their presentation.


Adapt activities from the ReadWriteThink lesson plan So What Do You Think? Writing a Review to include attention to background knowledge as one of the criteria for evaluation of the film of Persepolis.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Use the Persepolis Webquest Presentation Rubric to assess the group presentations.

  • Have individual students use the online Self-Reflection: Taking Part in a Group to help them reflect on their group contributions for individual grades.

  • Collect the materials students completed during the research phase and consider their completion in an individual assessment or grade.

  • After reading the novel and viewing the film, you might also have students formally or informally reflect on the helpfulness of knowing the background information.
Michael Boucher
K-12 Teacher
Wonderful webquest - this definitely will be adapted to be used in my class as we start Persepolis. One thing - links for groups and resources for them are not working.
Michael Boucher
K-12 Teacher
Wonderful webquest - this definitely will be adapted to be used in my class as we start Persepolis. One thing - links for groups and resources for them are not working.
Michael Boucher
K-12 Teacher
Wonderful webquest - this definitely will be adapted to be used in my class as we start Persepolis. One thing - links for groups and resources for them are not working.

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