ANIMAL FARM BY GEORGE ORWELL
In our day and age when media plays such a large part in the way people think, everyone should read George Orwell's Animal Farm. Below are some ways to make Animal Farm more engaging and meaningful for your students.
KEY PLAYERS IN THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION AND THE SOVIET UNION (PDF) This presentation gives a general overview of the key players in the Russian Revolution as well as the first leaders of the Soviet Union. This is helpful when asking students to spot parallels for these historical figures in the novel.
INTRODUCTION TO PROPAGANDA PRESENTATION (PDF) This presentation showcases propaganda from the World War II and Cold War era. Some of the propaganda is pro-Nazi and antisemitic in nature, so teacher discretion is advised.
HUMOROUS PROPAGANDA EXAMPLES (PDF) These images spoof propaganda posters by using references to pop culture (Star Wars, Disney films, etc.)
AESOP'S FABLES This collection of classic fables shows students the idea of using animal stories to demonstrate human problems. If time allows, it is always a fun assignment to have students dramatize one of these fables.
JAMES THURBER FABLES These excerpts from Fables For Our Time by James Thurber are hilarious parodies of the fable genre. They are also interesting comments on our society.
ANIMAL FARM ACTION FIGURE (PDF) This assignment asks students to design an action figure based on a character from Animal Farm. Each action figure must have actions it performs, accessories, a vehicle, etc. This is a non-threatening way to ask students to analyze the characters of the novel and incorporate a little artwork in the process.
STUDENT SCHOOL (PDF) This assignment asks students to imagine that they have been given absolute control of their high school. The teachers are driven away, and the student body is under their complete control. What now? (This assignment always gets some interesting responses from my students.)
PLANET OF THE APES DISCUSSION QUESTIONS (PDF) This classic science fiction film links themes with Animal Farm. The society set up by the apes in this story is just as corrupt and unfair as the one in Animal Farm. The film even quotes Animal Farm. My students begin laughing at the corniness of the film, but end up hailing it as on of their favorites. "It's a madhouse! A madhouse!"
"NOTHING TO ENVY" EXCERPTS: LIFE IN NORTH KOREA (PDF) These excerpts from Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick give haunting glimpses into the Orwellian world of North Korea. This makes a great follow-up activity for the novel. Read the whole book if you have time!
"THE FIREBIRD AND PRINCESS VASILISSA" (PDF)This is a Reader's Theater script-story of a famous Russian folktale. This tale gives a glimpse into the culture of Imperial Russia.
STALIN: RED TERROR DOCUMENTARY QUESTIONS (PDF) A&E Biography produced an excellent documentary on Stalin's rise to power. These questions progress in order and follow the details of the video.
RASPUTIN: THE MAD MONK DOCUMENTARY QUESTIONS (PDF) A&E Biography has produced an excellent documentary on the life of Grigory Rasputin. These questions progress in order and follow the details of the video. Rasputin's life shows much of what was corrupt and unstable about Imperial Russia--flaws that led to the overthrow of the government.
"GOD SEES THE TRUTH, BUT WAITS" BY LEO TOLSTOY AND READING GUIDE QUESTIONS (PDF) This classic short story introduces students to the world of Imperial Russia, the unfair treatment of Russian subjects, and the treatment of prisoners in Siberia.
"THE SIGNAL" (PDF) This classic short story shows the lives of two peasants--one who is content with being a peasant and another who considers terrorism as an alternative.
six ninety-minute sessions
This project-based lesson addresses the use of propaganda, rhetoric, and satire in George Orwell's Animal Farm. Students, often incensed at the "stupidity" of the animals who are led astray in the novel, will have a chance to redeem them by designing a political campaign to recapture their hearts and minds and deliver them to real freedom. Through this lesson, students will learn the importance of words and images in inspiring and oppressing people and will gain experience in using these strategies themselves.
Anchors for Reading:
Key Ideas and Details:
Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
Craft and Structure:
Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:
Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.1
Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:
Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
Anchor Standards for Writing:
Text Types and Purposes1:
Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.
Production and Distribution of Writing:
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
Research to Build and Present Knowledge:
Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Range of Writing:
Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
Anchor standards for Speaking and Listening:
Comprehension and Collaboration:
Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.
Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:
Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
Anchor standards for Language:
Conventions of Standard English:
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
Knowledge of Language:
Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
Vocabulary Acquisition and Use:
Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.
Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.
- identify and analyze the effectiveness of propaganda, rhetoric, and satire
- use words and images persuasively to advance a particular point of view
- write and create with awareness of a specific audience
- Propaganda PowerPoint (attached)
- Propaganda or Satire PowerPoint and handout
- Campaign Teams handout
- voting form
- basic art supplies including colored paper and markers
- Propaganda: misleading publicity
- Rhetoric: the art of speaking or writing effectively
- Satire: a literary work that makes fun of human weakness or folly, often using wit, sarcasm, or irony
- Irony: a literary device; when what happens is the opposite of what we have reason to expect
The teacher can use the voting form as a rubric for each group. This grade can be supplemented by grades on the reflection and on participation during campaign work sessions.
1. This lesson has clear intercurricular connections with a History/Social Studies curriculum. Students can use their repertoire of campaign strategies (propaganda, rhetoric, and satire) to analyze current or past presidential campaigns. 2. This lesson could be extended to encourage students to make changes or tackle problems in their own communities. For example, student could write a speech or create a political cartoon that calls attention to a problem in their school or in their neighborhood.