Unit 4: Surviving Repression: Persepolis
Students explore human nature through the story of a young girl coming of age during the Iranian Revolution, and the challenges she faced during this violent, turbulent time.
In this unit, students continue their year-long study of the relationship between power and human behavior with Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoir about coming of age during the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Satrapi’s simple black-and-white drawings belie the complexities of this award-winning text, which has been translated into many languages and read by millions of adults and teens. In this memoir, the reader gains insight into this significant historical event through young Marji’s eyes, learning about the human impact of political upheaval and the ways that people resist repression in large and small ways.
In addition to reading Persepolis, students will learn about the genre of graphic novels and the ways that cartoons use words and illustrations in tandem to make meaning. Students will complete the unit by reading several essays and articles that address the contentious issue of Muslim women’s headscarves, learning about different ways that this article of clothing has become highly politicized.
In this unit, students will continue to develop their ability to conduct research and create presentations. In the first writing task, students will work on identifying reputable sources, pulling relevant information from those sources, and presenting that information in a way that is clear and compelling to their audience. These presentations will address different aspects of Iranian history, culture, and current events, and are paired with relevant sections of Persepolis. Students will conclude this unit by reflecting and writing on transformative experiences from their own life.
Please Note: In August 2023, we updated writing lessons in this unit. You may notice discrepancies in previously downloaded/printed unit or lesson plans.
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Book: Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon, 1st edition, 2004)
Comic: What is a Graphic Novel? by Jessica Abel (Drawing Words and Writing Pictures)
Article: “How to read a comic book: appreciating the story behind the art” by Alex Abad-Santos (Vox)
Article: “The Stolen Revolution: Iranian Women of 1979” (CBC Radio)
Article: “Why do Muslim women wear a hijab?” by Caitlin Killian (The Conversation)
Article: “Under cover of darkness: Why World Hijab Day is an insult to girls like me” by Soutiam Goodarzi (The Spectator)
Assessment Text: “Excerpts from 'Persepolis 2': Slide 3”
Assessment Text: “Excerpts from 'Persepolis 2': Slide 4”
Assessment Text: “Excerpts from 'Persepolis 2': Slide 5”
Assessment Text: “Excerpt from graphic novel, Art Spiegelman's "Maus: A Survivor's Tale," 1986.”
Video: “Rick Steves' Iran” by Rick Steves' Europe (YouTube)
Video: “Majede Najar: Why I wear a hijab” by TEDTalentSearch (YouTube)
Rubric: Informational Presentation Rubric (G8, U4)
This assessment accompanies Unit 4 and should be
given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the
Download Content Assessment
Download Content Assessment Answer Key
Suggestions for how to prepare to teach this unit
Prepare to teach this unit by immersing yourself in the texts, themes, and core standards. Unit Launches include a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning.
The central thematic questions addressed in the unit or across units
Literary terms, text-based vocabulary, idioms and word parts to be taught with the text
author's perspective/point of view
To see all the vocabulary for Unit 4, view our 8th Grade Vocabulary Glossary.
In order to ensure that all students are able to access the texts and tasks in this unit, it is incredibly important to intellectually prepare to teach the unit prior to launching the unit. Use the intellectual preparation protocol and the Unit Launch to determine which support students will need. To learn more, visit the Supporting all Students teacher tool.
Notes to help teachers prepare for this specific unit
Fishtank ELA units related to the content in this unit.
Identify and summarize aspects of Iranian history and culture, drawing evidence from a video.
Unpack the expectations of an informational writing task and brainstorm a list of research questions.
Use search terms effectively, assess the credibility of online research sources, and continue gathering evidence in preparation for creating a slideshow presentation.
Gather information from multiple sources and create an outline for a slideshow presentation.
Design and build an informational slideshow presentation, complete with clear bullet points and images on each slide.
Create a bibliography slide and make any final edits to presentations.
Explain the basic features of a graphic novel, approaches to reading a graphic novel, and how structure contributes to meaning.
Explain how Satrapi uses words and images together to develop the reader’s understanding of significant characters and events.
Explain how specific incidents impact and reveal aspects of characters and setting, and describe how Satrapi communicates this through text and images.
Explain how specific incidents impact and reveal aspects of characters, and describe how Satrapi communicates this through text and images.
Drawing evidence from two texts, explain the impact of the Iranian Revolution on women’s rights, and how women resisted these changes.
Explain how some Iranians responded to and resisted their new government, and describe how Satrapi uses text and images to develop this.
Explain how specific events and lines of text develop the idea that Marji’s experience as an adolescent is both universal and very specific to the time period and setting.
Determine themes in Persepolis and explain how Satrapi develops them in the text.
Determine the central idea of both a text article and a video and explain how the author/speaker develops each.
Determine an author’s point of view and explain where and how she responds to conflicting viewpoints.
Add compelling dialogue to their narratives and craft a strong conclusion.
Assessment – 2 days
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The content standards covered in this unit
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
— Form and use verbs in the indicative, imperative, interrogative, conditional, and subjunctive mood.
— Recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in verb voice and mood.
— Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words or phrases based on grade 8 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.
— Use context (e.g., the overall meaning of a sentence or paragraph; a word's position or function in a sentence) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.
— Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to supporting ideas; provide an objective summary of the text.
— Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas, or events (e.g., through comparisons, analogies, or categories).
— Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.
— Analyze in detail the structure of a specific paragraph in a text, including the role of particular sentences in developing and refining a key concept.
— Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how the author acknowledges and responds to conflicting evidence or viewpoints.
— Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.
— Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.
— Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.
— Compare and contrast the structure of two or more texts and analyze how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and style.
— Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
— Acknowledge new information expressed by others, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views in light of the evidence presented.
— Delineate a speaker's argument and specific claims, evaluating the soundness of the reasoning and relevance and sufficiency of the evidence and identifying when irrelevant evidence is introduced.
— Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with relevant evidence, sound valid reasoning, and well-chosen details; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.
— Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest.
— Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant evidence, using accurate, credible sources and demonstrating an understanding of the topic or text.
— Establish and maintain a formal style.
— Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content
— Introduce a topic clearly, previewing what is to follow; organize ideas, concepts, and information into broader categories; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
— Develop the topic with relevant, well-chosen facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.
— Use appropriate and varied transitions to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among ideas and concepts.
— Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
— Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.
— Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, and reflection, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
— Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on the narrated experiences or events.
— With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.
— Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas efficiently as well as to interact and collaborate with others.
— Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration.
— Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
— Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Standards that are practiced daily but are not priority standards of the unit
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
— Use punctuation (comma, ellipsis, dash) to indicate a pause or break.
— Spell correctly.
— Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
— Use verbs in the active and passive voice and in the conditional and subjunctive mood to achieve particular effects (e.g., emphasizing the actor or the action; expressing uncertainty or describing a state contrary to fact).
— Use common, grade-appropriate Greek or Latin affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of a word (e.g., precede, recede, secede).
— Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases; gather vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.
— Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
— By the end of the year, read and comprehend literary nonfiction at the high end of the grades 6—8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
— Come to discussions prepared, having read or researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.
— Follow rules for collegial discussions and decision-making, track progress toward specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as needed.
— Pose questions that connect the ideas of several speakers and respond to others' questions and comments with relevant evidence, observations, and ideas.
— Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and evaluate the motives (e.g., social, commercial, political) behind its presentation.
— Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
— Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.
— Introduce claim(s), acknowledge and distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and organize the reasons and evidence logically.
— Establish and maintain a formal style.
— Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation presented
— Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and point of view and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and logically.
— Use a variety of transition words, phrases, and clauses to convey sequence, signal shifts from one time frame or setting to another, and show the relationships among experiences and events.
— Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to capture the action and convey experiences and events.
— Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
— Apply grade 8 Reading standards to literary nonfiction (e.g., "Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; recognize when irrelevant evidence is introduced").
— Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
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