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Teaching and learning 1984 is INTENSE.
Evaluating students’ understanding throughout the novel is essential, so we’re sure they’ve comprehended and can analyze and synthesize Orwell’s important messages (and as I encourage, “SAVE THE WORLD!”).
Tests and essays sometimes confine students’ personal expression, and too many formal evaluations and reading checks become tedious.
Here are some resources that tap into kids’ creativity and still allow teachers to check understanding.
CREATIVE ACTIVITIES FOR 1984
Click on the links above to see previews of each resource.
First, I’ve included a sheet of bookmarks and a poster/packet cover. Just for fun.
The second resource is graphic organizers to use when reading the chapters from Goldstein’s Book in Section 2:
Students often skip Goldstein’s Book when they encounter it in Chapter 9 of the second section of Orwell’s 1984.
The book excerpts are an important part of the novel, by skipping them, kids miss out on the important concepts that Orwell found imperative to his message in the novel.
In the past, I assigned pages of questions to force students to read the book. This method however, was cruel, and students eventually rebelled.
These graphic organizers are a fun and effective way to help students navigate their way through Goldstein’s Book.
These graphic organizers were created using PowerPoint 2010.
They can be printed on standard 8.5X11 inch paper.
They can be used independently or with partners or small groups which I find works best.
I also like to save class time by creating jigsaw groups where small groups become experts on certain pages then break into new groups and share their findings.
There are 15 pages of tasks:
• Graphic identification
• Application questions
• Higher-order questions
• Quotes from the novel
There are also 15 identical key pages with complete answers.
To assess student’s completion and understanding of the activities, you could present the key as a PowerPoint; however, I suggest you have a look at the Goldstein's book PowerPoint, not included in this bundle, that I have available in my store:
The PowerPoint presentation follows the graphic organizers precisely, but I start with Chapter 1, Ignorance is Strength, then address Chapter 3 War is Peace. (The progression of ideas makes more sense that way.)
My kids enjoy working with classmates to complete the activity and most definitely have a better understanding of Goldstein’s book when we’ve completed discussion.
Third is another activity for Goldstein’s book (depending on the class and time restraints, I use both graphic organizers and this group project):
This 1984 Goldstein's book assignment compels students to read Goldstein's Book and devise a unique way to present the information to "the Brotherhood" (their classmates).
The directions are to read assigned pages in the text, discuss the information with the comrades in one's group, create an exciting way to efficiently and thoroughly present this information to the Brotherhood.
Included are specific questions to address.
Some ideas that they've come up with include news casts, interviews, secret meetings, and talk shows.
The fourth resource is a creative writing activity for Section 2.
Students choose from three creative activities.
Each option includes a brief introduction referencing the text and including illustrative quotes.
Following is detailed instructions for one of the activity’s choices:
Place yourself in Oceania in 1984. Imagine you are a 12-year-old attending a Youth League and Spies training camp. Write a journal that recounts the events of three days at the camp. Include lecture topics and physical training. Also, note the subtle indoctrination of Party principles. As a young Oceanian, what is your reaction; how do you feel, are you inspired?
Specifics of this project:
Format as a journal with the date at the top and reflections written below.
Each entry should be 1 – 1.5 pages long
Include at least one reference to a secondary source of information about Hitler Youth or Little Octoberists with MLA citation.
Include at least one quote from Section 2 of 1984 with MLA citation.
The other choices include a shopping “spree” in Charrington’s store and a compatibility test for Winston and Julia.
The fifth and favorite activity is “Are You an American PROLE?
Winston spends much time hoping the proles will rise in revolt against the Party.
He’s certain at times that because of their mass, 85% of Oceania’s population, the proles will recognize their oppression and rebel.
However, Winston must often acknowledge the futility of his plan to save humanity through a prole uprising.
This activity provides 26 excerpts about the proles from the text of 1984.
Each excerpt includes a question about the portrayal of the proles.
Students must then respond to a related “yes or no” question.
In the end, students tally their “yes” responses and refer to a chart to determine if they are the proles of America.
Here’s an example:
8. The narrator: “And even when they became discontented, as they sometimes did, their discontent led nowhere, because being without general ideas, they could only focus it on petty specific grievances. The larger evils invariably escaped their notice. The great majority of proles did not even have telescreens in their homes.” (1.7)
What might be some “petty specific grievances” he proles might focus on?
Have you fixated on any personal petty grievance this month? Yes No
The personal questions are designed to prompt “yes” answers, subsequently having students recognize themselves as proles.
What follow are these questions:
• If you are a prole (or if you are not, for the sake of this activity), what must you become more conscious of in our society?
• How can you become more conscious?
• Do you think that 85% of the population in America are proles? Explain.
• What is the danger of having a society consisting predominately of proles?
This activity is a wonderful way to have kids realize their important role in society.
The activity sparks conversation about civic responsibility, the importance of communication, the necessary resistance of propaganda, the significance of history, the value of family and companionship, and so many more of the values Orwell intended for us to realize through study of his novel.
The sixth creative activity focuses on Section 3, Chapter 2 and Winston’s experience in the Ministry of Love.
Students are directed to…
Imagine that you are a new member of an elite group of criminal analysts at an organization named the International Interrogation Agency. Before the directors will allow you to interrogate prisoners, you must first demonstrate your knowledge of the various successful methods employed by this agency. To do that, your superiors have extracted excerpts from Chapter 2 of Section 3 of 1984. Your task is to read each excerpt, provide a “title” for the method described and then briefly explain how this method would be an effective interrogation technique. The first exercise is completed for you as an example.
They are provided with several quotes from the novel.
They must determine how this method of interrogation/torture would be effective.
The seventh resource is a culminating group research and presentation comparing Oceania in 1984 to our society.
A fabulous way for students to recognize the similarities between Oceania and our own society!
George Orwell’s 1984 depicts a world with
no independent thought,
no personal loyalties, and
no contact with other societies.
Each group chooses one of the four topics:
TECHNOLOGY AND PRIVACY
Research, discuss, present information about what historical or personal events might have influenced the author to imagine such a world.
In your group, research, discuss, and present evidence that Orwell’s prophecies
have parallels in our society,
have potential parallels in our society, or
has no parallels in our society.
Organize your information into an outline that includes:
I. Orwell’s personal and historical influences
II. Depiction of your topic in the novel, including at least five excerpts from the text
III. Parallels, potential parallels, or evidence of no parallel in our society
(at least five different subtopics)
IV. Conclusion discussing Orwell’s prophetic accuracy
Students present research to classmates. Always a successful activity in my classroom.
Each topic is presented with a word cloud suggesting subtopics.
I've included a scoring rubric.
Other fun activities to assign throughout the unit include The Character's Cell Phone which requires students to imagine a character with a smart phone and decide what apps that character would have:
What would be on his playlist?
in his online shopping cart? movie queue?
What would her bitmoji look like? selfie?
What news would he follow? etc.
This is an engaging activity that kids love!
Another fun and refreshing activity is the ONE-PAGER.
Students receive a template on which they illustrate characters, theme, and examples of propaganda. This is an engaging activity and good for when the kids need a break from intense assessment, and you need a break from intense grading!
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