The Victorians Background

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SWBAT demonstrate understanding of the significant events in the Victorian Period through independent reading, writing, and collaborative discussion.

Big Idea

"I kind of have a Victorian sensibility - I don't understand stuff until I can classify it and name it." --Fred Tomaselli

Lesson Overview and Note to Teachers

My classes are held in 100-minute block sessions every other day.  Activities in this lesson take one class period to complete.  Students read, discuss, and take notes on the Victorian Era.  

My goal in this lesson is to provide the social and cultural context for our study of Victorian literature. What events happened in this era to influence the authors who wrote during the time period? 

While we do not study history in-depth, it's important for students to understand author's purpose in the context of the historical period. 

Victorian Era Timeline Review and Gallery Walk

10 minutes

I begin by explaining that we will be exploring works from the Victorian Era. I want students to understand the historical context of the literature we will read.  Please watch the video resource in this section for more insight.

I review the Victorian Era timeline in our textbook The Language of Literature (McDougal Littell, 2003), pointing out that three timelines are presented concurrently so that students can examine events from microcosm, British Literature, to macrocosm, events in the world: (1) Events in British Literature, (2) Events in Britain, and (3) Events in the World.

I ask students to take a few minutes to read the three timelines, choosing an event significant to them, and then writing that event on the whiteboard (Picture: Victorian Whiteboard). 

Next, I call students up to the board to take a Gallery Walk, reading the entries. Then, as a class, we note characteristics of student-selected events.  Students notice that the selected events relate to government and literary developments of the time period.

Teachers can also access the Timeline of the Victorian Period, which provides important events during the Victorian Era; allow students sufficient time to read the timeline; and complete a similar whiteboard activity and gallery walk. 

Independent Reading and Notetaking

90 minutes

I ask students to read the informational background on the Victorian Era from their textbook and take notes on each of the 10 sections, writing five-bullets per section, for a total of 50 bullets.  I tell them to select the five most important events in each section to include; they choose events they deem significant.  I have taught students this year that taking notes in bulleted form is a quick and efficient way to note critical content while reading or during a lecture since they can revisit their notes for study purposes.

Victorian Web is a comprehensive resource on the Victorian Era, including social, cultural, political, and religious views of the time period.  Some articles you may find useful for background information are as follows:

Shmoop, an online resource for teachers and students, also has valuable articles on the Victorian Era and its literature for a snapshot, student-friendly study of the time period, including:

Your literature text may also have background information useful for student activities prior to studying the Victorian Era.