Anatomy of a Revolution Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

After implementing this lesson plan on 'Anatomy of a Revolution' by Crane Brinton, your students will be able to understand and explain the commonalities between four major revolutions using domain-specific vocabulary. Give them the printable worksheet included to test their understanding.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson on Anatomy of a Revolution by Crane Brinton, students will be able to:

  • Compare and contrast the English Revolution, American Revolution, French Revolution, and Russian Revolution.
  • Understand and use academic vocabulary related to the timeline of a revolution.


90 minutes

Common Core Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).


  • Dictator
  • Dispossessed
  • Extremist
  • Figurehead
  • Movement
  • New Regime
  • Injustice
  • Moderate
  • Old Regime
  • Progress
  • Propaganda
  • Radical
  • Revisionist
  • Revolution
  • Revolutionary
  • Sovereignty
  • The Terror
  • Thermidorian Reaction
  • Tyrant
  • Uniformities


  • Copies of quiz
  • Copies of the lesson
  • Copies of the book Anatomy of a Revolution by Crane Brinton
  • Vocabulary cards
  • Dice
  • Chart prepared with instructions for Vocabulary Game (see Vocabulary Game section for more information)
  • Reference materials
  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Computer access

Reading & Discussion Questions

  • Read Anatomy of a Revolution Book Summary as a class, and discuss the following questions:
    • According to Crane Brinton, what is a revolution?
    • What are some examples of revolutionary movements in this century?
    • How is Brinton's approach to history different from the approach of a typical historian?
    • Describe the general traits of a society headed towards a revolution.
    • What happens during the moderate phase of a revolution?
    • What are the reasons why moderates are ineffective to prevent a revolution?
    • Why is the radical phase of a revolution called 'The Terror?'
    • What happens during the climax of the revolution?
    • At the end of a revolution, which group retains control of the government?
    • What is the primary reason for revolution?
  • Ask if there are any questions, then give the students the lesson's printable worksheet to check for understanding.
  • Check the answers as a class.


Vocabulary Game

Materials: vocabulary cards, dice, reference materials, chart prepared with the following information:

  1. Definition
  2. Synonym
  3. Antonym
  4. Category
  5. Characteristics
  6. Example

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