The Handmaid’s Tale

A WebQuest on the background of the novel (LK E 13)  

Designed by

Kurt Ludwigs 
email

  Introduction | Task | Process | Presentation | Test | Evaluation  


Introduction

You are the guide of a group of tourists who are crossing the Sahara Desert. A sandstorm is coming up. Very soon it becomes so intense that you can’t see your hands in front of your eyes. The storm is still raging, but all of a sudden the sound of the wind and the sand hitting your bus can’t be heard any longer. You have the feeling that you are not in the same place any more – and you are right!

You have entered the utopian state of Mytoxa. The Mytoxans are a highly intelligent race and they only pay respect to those who can be their match. So they set a test for every stranger that sets foot on their land. The test is about the Mytoxans’ holy book, The Handmaid’s Tale,  a novel written by Margaret Atwood.

It would offend the Mytoxans’ pride to set a test about the contents of the novel; that would be far too easy! So this test is about the background of the novel, and if a stranger passes it, he will be allowed to go wherever he wants to. Those who don’t pass the test will have to stay in Mytoxa and work as slaves!


Task

As you are the guide, you are most interested in every member of your group passing the test, as you do not want to leave anyone behind. So organize the work that is necessary to be well informed about the background of the novel and to be well prepared for the test!

The members of your group will have to know as much as possible about the following aspects of the background:

  Gilead – much more than just the place where the novel is set  

   Dystopian literature – main features  

   The history of American Puritanism  

   Betty Friedan and the feminist movement in the USA  

   Margaret Atwood – her life and work  

  Jerry Falwell and the fundamentalist right-wing movement in the USA


Process

Fortunately you learned something decent before you became a guide. You received a bachelor in Political Sciences and Literature, so you can provide your group with two links for every aspect, but you know that this will not be enough in order to find all the necessary information.

  Gilead – much more than just the place where the novel is set

http://www.keyway.ca/htm2001/20010827.htm  

http://www.mtgilead.org/page.asp  

   Dystopian literature – main features  

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A510922  

http://hem.passagen.se/replikant/  

   The history of American Puritanism  

http://www.answers.com/topic/puritanism  

http://college.hmco.com/history/readerscomp/rcah/html/ah_072700_puritanism.htm  

   Betty Friedan and the feminist movement in the USA  

http://www.pbs.org/fmc/interviews/friedan.htm  

http://www.ffl.msu.ru/staff/stitova/amculture/Timofeeva.doc  

   Margaret Atwood – her life and work  

http://www.web.net/owtoad/toc.html  

http://www.motherjones.com/arts/qa/1997/07/visions.html

  Jerry Falwell and the fundamentalist right-wing movement in the USA

http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/exposes/falwell/general.htm  

http://www.salon.com/news/1998/03/cov_11news.html

So you tell your group to work in teams of up to four peoplewith each team studying one aspect. To begin with, you tell them to find another four websites with good information about the aspect they are working on.

There may be some members in your group who would like to know how to organize an Internet research. They will find some help here (pdf-Datei).

Others may feel that their knowledge about finding and processing information may need a little brush-up. They will find some help here (pdf-Datei).

And yet there might be those who would like to learn about an advanced research strategy. They will find some help here (pdf-Datei).

Those members of your group who want to know where and how to find the meaning of an unknown word that crops up in a text they found will find some help here (pdf-Datei).

After that they will have to take notes on the main contents.


Presentation

Every member of your group will have to pass a test that covers all the aspects mentioned above. So every team will have to inform the whole group about what they have found out about their aspect. They may do so by providing a hand-out, a PowerPoint presentation etc.  

While you were studying Political Sciences and Literature, you had to do quite a lot of PowerPoint presentations and eventually you became a PowerPoint freak yourself. So you can provide the members of your group with two PowerPoint tutorials:

- a tutorial for beginners (click here) (pdf-Datei) and

- a tutorial for advanced users (click here) (pdf-Datei)

Make sure that everybody listens attentively, because pretty soon they will have to take the test!  

Those members of your group who feel that they need some help on how to give a presentation should have a look at this. (pdf-Datei)

The additional links:

  Gilead – much more than just the place where the novel is set

http://www.gileadtoday.com/  

http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=1021  

http://www.bibleplaces.com/gileadupper.htm  

http://www.bartleby.com/108/01/31.html  

http://www.answers.com/gilead  

  
Dystopian literature – main features  

http://chronicle.com/free/v51/i15/15b01001.htm  

http://www.netcharles.com/orwell/articles/col-dystopia.htm

http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/encyclopedia/d/dy/dystopia.htm

http://hem.passagen.se/replikant/dystopia_categorisation.htm

   The history of American Puritanism  

http://www.bartleby.com/65/pu/Puritani.html

http://www.csustan.edu/english/reuben/pal/chap1/1intro.html  

http://www.planetkc.com/puritan/welcome.htm  

http://www.geocities.com/lrampey/2131/puritan.htm  

   Betty Friedan and the feminist movement in the USA  

http://www.cwfa.org/articles/4178/BLI/dotcommentary/

http://www.answers.com/topic/betty-friedan  

http://www.jofreeman.com/feminism/liberationmov.htm    

http://www.amazoncastle.com/feminism/feminism.htm

   Margaret Atwood – her life and work  

http://www.motherjones.com/arts/qa/1997/07/visions.html  

http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/generalfiction/story/0,6000,943485,00.html

http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=M1ARTM0010997

http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=175
 

http://www.answers.com/topic/margaret-atwood  

  Jerry Falwell and the fundamentalist right-wing movement in the USA  

http://www.trbc.org/christianresources/falwellsermons.php  

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Falwell  

http://www.rotten.com/library/bio/religion/televangelists/jerry-falwell  

http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/09/14/Falwell.apology  

http://www.falwell.com  

http://www.moralmajority.us  


 Test 

So, let’s hope that the teams that presented their findings did their jobs well, because profound and detailed knowledge of the six aspects mentioned above will be vital in the test that for very good reasons is commonly known as the Mytoxans’ freedom test.

  

The Mytoxans’ freedom test 

 


Evaluation

 

Describe to the learners how their performance will be evaluated. Specify whether there will be a common grade for group work vs. individual grades.  

 

Beginning

1 P.

Developing

2 P.

Accomplished

3 P.

Exemplary

4 P.

Score

 

Quality of results

 

Results are minimal AND/OR there are several factual errors. 

Include essential information on the topic but there are
1 - 2 factual errors. 

Include essential information on the topic.
Subject knowledge is good.


Cover topic in-depth with details and examples. Subject knowledge is excellent.

 

 

Oral Presentation

 

 

Presentation not smooth and audience lost attention

Presentation not smooth, but kept the audience's attention most of the time.

A relatively interesting presentation, the audience's attention was kept all of the time.

A well-rehearsed, smooth presentation, that was followed by the audience with great interest.

 

 
Mistakes
  in the material
provided for the presentation

 

More than 8 mistakes in spelling, grammar and wording

8 mistakes in spelling, grammar and wording.

7 or fewer mistakes in spelling, grammar and wording.

2 or fewer mistakes in spelling, grammar and wording.

 

 

Attractiveness of the material
provided for the presentation

 

Use of font, color, graphics, effects etc. but these often distract from the presenation content.

Makes use of font, color, graphics, effects, etc. but occasionally these distract from the presentation content.

Makes good use of font, color, graphics, effects, etc. to enhance the presentation.

Makes excellent use of font, color, graphics, effects, etc. to enhance the presentation.

 

Performance in the interactive test

An average performance of less than 50 %

An average performance of more than 50,  but less than 80 %

An average performance of 80 - 90 %

An average performance of more than
 90 %