Teachers and administrators often question whether graphic novels can meet Common Core standards. In this article, teacher Maureen Bakis explains how graphic novels support standards and improve student literacy.
A teacher explains that Persepolis was banned by the Chicago Public School's CEO, and that this made her students anxious to read the book, in order to understand the controversy. She used it as an opportunity to expose and discuss stereotypes about Muslims, and she believes her students became more tolerant, as a result. These conversations will require careful thought and sensitivity from the teacher.
Students read one section of Persepolis, then consider how an author's point-of-view can help us understand the events of a revolution in a new way. They then create a storyboard to illustrate one event from the Islamic Revolution from one person's point-of-view. Remind the students that Iran is a very complex place, and not everyone shares the same political beliefs. Perhaps you can find someone in your community who experienced the revolution, and is willing to speak to the class.
This lesson plan's objective is to improve students' ability to analyze Persepolis and other graphic novels. It contains handouts for students, along with links for learning about graphic novels as literature, and an oral presentation assignment. This is a very thorough lesson plan that would probably take several days for you and your students to complete.
The late movie critic Roger Ebert praises the film Persepolis, saying that it tells Marjane Satrapi's story "carefully, lovingly, and with great style." Ebert recounts the time he traveled to the Tehran Film Festival in 1972, and how his hosts' political attitudes were very "modern," and not extremist in any way. He makes the important point that Iranians are not all fundamentalists, and that we should avoid stereotyping them.
In this interview with Persepolis author Marjane Satrapi, Satrapi discusses how living as an exile forced her to spend time thinking about her past in Iran. She also describes the time when her graphic arts teacher gave her a low grade on a poster, even though she believed she deserved a much higher grade. The teacher told her that she was talented, but that talent without hard work would not help her reach her career goals in any way. This inspired her to become a more disciplined artist.
In this interview, Persepolis author Marjane Satrapi discusses her reasons for writing her story, her hesitation about the idea of making it into a movie, and the fact that all memoirs include elements of fiction.
This Common Core-aligned lesson contains links to vital background information on Iran and the Islamic Revolution in the 1970s. The students create PowerPoint presentations to share what they have learned about the culture of Iran, including the roles of women and the country's education system. This is a very thorough resource, and will give your students a solid foundation before reading this novel.