Contextualizing Dickens and

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Dickens and A Tale of Two Cities


You will be working in groups of five to complete this WebQuest.  You must complete the following tasks:

1. Two series of 5 journal entries composed from the perspective of two individuals, one living in France and one living in England, during the Revolution.  Your entries must make reference to specific events, places, and people relevant to the Revolution. (each entry must be a minimum of 300 words; be sure to use diction appropriate for the time period—no modern slang)

2. A newspaper editorial from the time period of the Revolution that identifies factors contributing to the French Revolution (at least four factors: social, political, religious, etc.) and your (group's) opinion on who should be blamed for the devastating events that took place during the Revolution. You want to be persuasive in your article as means of gaining support.  (500 words)

3. How did the French Revolution impact other countries (for example, think in terms of trade and travel)? You may do this in any type of format that you choose: written response, graphic organizer, time line, etc.  This is the task that allows you to be more creative, but you must okay your idea with your teacher prior to beginning. 

4. As you know after finishing your research, Dickens is known for his inclusion of satirical commentary within his novels as well as his active role for social justice causes. Compare and contrast the living conditions in England during the French Revolution to the living conditions of Dickens’s time period. Ultimately, by using the French Revolution as a backdrop to his novel, what political agenda may Dickens have? Be able to compare events of the French Revolution to events within Dickens’s time period. (500 words minimum)


Beginning the Process:

Within each group, you must assign role (described below). After assigning the roles, each group member must complete his or her task. Please keep detailed notes, which cite websites appropriately. Using Cornell Notes may help you: in the wide column take notes as usual, in the narrow column note the URL and any other distinguishing information or cue words.

Role Descriptions

1. Historical Events Coordinator:  Your role is to identify specific events that were important to the French Revolution.  You must have dates and locations of these events and accurate, complete descriptions of them.  You must find at least five significant events. Helpful sites include:

2. Famous Figure Finder: Your role is to identify important figures from the French Revolution.  You must have background/biographical information and reasons explaining their relevance to the Revolution.  You must find at least five important people. Helpful sites include:

3. Important Landmark Locater: Your role is to identify locations (landmarks, cities, etc.) there were significant to the French Revolution.  Explain why they were of importance.  You must find at least five locations. Helpful sites include:

4.  Cause and Effect Expert:  Your role is to find the reasons for the rise against the French monarchy and upper-class.  That is, the causes of the French Revolution.  What caused the up rise of the Patriots/Rebels?  What effects did this Revolution-positive or negative-have on France? Europe? The rest of the world?  You must find at least five causes and effects.  Helpful sites include:
5. Dickens’s England Explorer: Your role is to provide basic biographical information about Dickens’s life (birth, family, education, religion, etc.), but, more importantly, information about the political instability of England, which would inspire Dickens to write a novel using the French Revolution as a backdrop. Focus on questions like: what was the strength of England’s economy during Dickens’s time period? Who was the ruling power during Dickens’s time? How did Dickens’s feel about them? Who opposed the ruling power during the time? What class system (e.g. we have an upper, middle, and lower class) was in place? How much political freedom did all of England’s citizens have during Dickens’s time? Specifically, how were the lower classes treated? How involved was Dickens’s in social justice?

Data collection: Your group will collaborate the data into one document. Your notes will be due on Tuesday, October 4. I want one copy from the entire group.


Once you have combined your data, you will begin to assign roles for the writing assignments. NOTE there are four tasks and five people. Each student must take a role in the production of these written tasks. All tasks must have a completed draft on Thursday, October 6th. Students will have the class period to revise and edit each other’s work and to plan for the submission of their work.

All tasks will be due on Wednesday, October 12. NOTE: We do not have class on Wednesday, but all assignments will be due to so we do not need to have class for you to submit on time. Four members of your group will submit the tasks, for example: Billy could turn in task #1, while Nick turns in task #2, while Nora turns in task #3, and Kristen turns in task #4. Get it?


Friday, September 30: Overview of WebQuest assignments and group work in the library.

Monday, October 3: Meet in library to FINALIZE research.

Tuesday, October 4: Research compilations are due. In class, we will discuss the history of the French Revolution and Charles Dickens. Assign roles for written assignments.

Wednesday, October 5: Meet in library to work on written assignments.

Thursday, October 6: Complete drafts of written assignments are due. In groups, revise and discuss ways to improve your drafts.

Friday, October 7: Begin reading A Tale of Two Cities. Last ten minutes will be reserved for group meetings. Discuss how you will finish up the writing assignments.

Final written tasks are due on Wednesday, October 12 at 1pm.

1 This webquest has been adapted from A. Klaehn’s “The Impact of the French Revolution.” Retrieved 26 September 2011, from

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