Animal Farm: The Anti-Utopian Novel

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1 Animal Farm: The Anti-Utopian Novel Grade Level: Presented by: Length of Unit: Eighth Grade Georgann Reaves, Miller Core Knowledge Magnet School, Macon, GA Fifteen to sixteen days I. ABSTRACT: This unit presents a thorough study of George Orwell s Animal Farm, and makes liberal use of prior knowledge from the seventh grade Core Knowledge history curriculum. The concentration is on the author s purpose for writing, and the methods he employs to further his purpose, showing how a writer can influence political thought through fiction. It also allows students to expand and embellish their familiarity with world events through exposure to a political satire based on those events. In addition, it strengthens previously taught literary concepts and adds those appropriate to the eighth grade Core Knowledge sequence. II. OVERVIEW A. Concept objectives 1. The student will display knowledge of and be able to use specific literary terminology 2. The student will read critically and analytically to draw comparisons, make inferences, trace plot development, and evaluate writing style for intended purpose. 3. The student will be able to formulate opinions based on reading and interpretation and be able to defend them in class discussion. 4. The student will learn and be able to use competently new vocabulary in the discussion of and writing about the novel. 5. The student will compare the author s work with parallel historical events to show the efficacy of the work as a political statement. 6. The student will prepare a reader s journal to guide and inform reading, and to serve as a framework for discussion and further study. 7. The student will work both independently and cooperatively to prepare a presentation for the class on one background topic relevant to the novel. 8. The student will work independently to prepare an individual culminating project to demonstrate understanding and synthesis of the major ideas of the study. 9. The student will formulate a method of presentation for the culminating project to show mastery of the topic; it will be educational for the rest of the class. 10. The student will be able to expand the boundaries of the study by examining how the events in the novel could have been changed by different actions on the part of the characters. 11. The student will be able to show mastery of material by satisfactorily completing a written evaluation of the work. B. Content from Core Knowledge Sequence to be taught: 1. Animal Farm by George Orwell 2. Elements of fiction a. Review from seventh grade: plot and setting, theme, point of view, conflict, suspense and climax 1

2 b. Characterization: flat and round; static and dynamic; motivation c. Literary terms: irony, foreshadowing, parody, tone, and diction d. Vocabulary: carte blanche, coup d etat, fait accompli, savoir fair C. Skills to be taught: 1. Compare and contrast 2. Recognize cause and effect 3. Conflict and resolution 4. Research skills, including analysis of data 5. Recognizing symbolism, irony, satire 6. Analysis of plot structure, point of view, writer s purpose 7. Critical thinking 8. Oral recitation III. BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE A. For teachers 1. Atkins, John A. George Orwell: A Literary and Biographical Study. New York: Knopf, Hirsch, E.D, Jr. et.al. The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Jones, Judy and William Wilson. An Incomplete Education. New York: Ballentine, Orwell, George Signet. B. For students 1. The Russian Revolution 2. The rise of totalitarianism in the Soviet Union: Josef Stalin, collectivization of agriculture, five-year plans for agriculture, the Great Purge IV. RESOURCES A. Classroom set of Animal Farm B. Topics for Group Projects (Appendix B) C. Reader s Journal (Appendix D) D. List of Topics for Independent Projects (Appendix C) E. The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy F. Media center access G. Animal Farm video H. TV and VCR I. Camcorder (highly desirable, but not necessary) V. LESSONS Lesson One -What Do We Know Already? (one day) a. Review of historical background of Russian Revolution. b. Review of people and events studied in seventh grade (Stalin, Trotsky, Marx, Lenin, Bolshevik Revolution). c. Distribution of group presentation topics and directions/discussion a. Students will identify and describe important events and people from the period of the Russian Revolution. 2

3 b. Students will choose a topic of interest that they will research. c. Students will confer with group members to brainstorm possible presentation techniques. 1. Notebook, paper, pen 2. Timeline for Completion of Assignments (Appendix A) 3. List of possible group project topics (Appendix B) C. Key vocabulary: totalitarian, propaganda, satire D. Procedures/Activities a. Teacher will lead class discussion/review of people, ideas, causes of the Russian Revolution. b. Students will record notes in their notebooks and participate in discussion. c. Teacher will distribute list of possible group project topics. d. Teacher and students will read and discuss topics list, determining how each is important to a study of the novel. e. Students will divide into groups based on interest, and decide on a topic (or topics)to pursue individually that will be presented as part of a group report. E. Evaluation: Students will be evaluated on class participation. Lesson Two: Group Research (one class period, four days actual research) a. Individual study in media center on topic of personal choice. b. Conferencing with group members about methods of presentation a. Students will use reference materials, both print and electronic, to pursue research on an individual topic of interest. b. Students will collaborate with group members on preparing an effective presentation that will benefit the entire class. 1. Notebook, paper, pen 2. Various research materials, including electronic media, if available C. Procedures/Activities 1. Teacher and media specialists will circulate among students to facilitate the finding and accessing of materials needed and guide the notetaking of those who need help in organizing. 2. Students will access materials, take notes, and determine the usability of materials. 3. Teacher will instruct the students to use the last ten minutes of class conferring with group members about the possible methods of presentation, and determine what materials are to be requested for the presentation. D. Evaluation: Students will be evaluated on class participation. Lesson Three-Group Presentations (one day) 1. Lesson Content a. As groups, students will report on independent research, explaining their topics for the benefit of the entire class. b. Class members not reporting will listen to the presenters, take notes, and ask questions. 3

4 a. Students will learn first-hand in-depth information on a topic of their choice. b. Students will prepare and present an oral presentation on a topic of their choice 1. Notebook, paper, pen for each student 2. Chalkboard 3. TV, VCR (if requested) 4. Easel 5. Overhead projector, if requested. C. Key Vocabulary: utopia, dystopia, revisionism, purges, five-year plans D. Procedures/Activities 1. Each group will be allotted fifteen minutes of class time for their presentation. They are responsible for their method of presentation. 2. As each group completes its report, the individual members submit a typed, one-page summary of their individual research findings with correct bibliographic information. 3. Students will be directed to read Chapter One in Animal Farm and complete the Reader s Journal (Appendix D) for Chapter One. E. Evaluation: Students will be evaluated on written report and on group presentation. Lesson Four - Old Major s Dream 1. Lesson Content a. Discussion of Chapter One and Reader s Journal b. Evaluation of the animal s complaints and the parallels to those of the Russian people. a. Students will be able to identify the major characters in Chapter One and hypothesize on their future importance b. Students will be able to discuss their Reader s Journal responses and defend their answers using text references. c. Students will be able to recognize persuasive techniques in a speech. 1. Notebook, paper, pen 2. Reader s Journal for Chapter One 3. Copy of the novel C. Key Vocabulary: fable, fairy story, allegory, beast fable, point of view D. Procedures/Activities 1. Teacher opens discussion by asking for volunteers to describe the personalities of the animals as revealed so far. The characters of Boxer, Clover, Benjamin, Old Major, and Molly have been delineated carefully enough for some speculation as to who will emerge as a leader in the book. 2. Teacher reads the speech of Old Major in which he tells of his vision. Students are directed to listen for instances of injustice, and attempt to evaluate whether Old Major is being fair to Jones, or if he is exaggerating. 3. Teacher and students discuss the power of speeches to persuade and the techniques Old Major uses that they have heard in political speeches, such as rhetorical questions, overgeneralization, adoption of us against them attitude. 4

5 4. Teacher and students sing Beasts of England (to the tune of My Darling Clementine ). 5. Teacher leads discussion/instruction of vocabulary terms. Students write definitions in notebooks. 6. Students are assigned Chapter Two and Reader s Journal for homework. E. Evaluation: Students are evaluated on class discussion and completion of Reader s Journal. Lesson Five- The Revolution Has Come! (one day) : a. Class discussion of Chapter Two b. Review of Reader s Journal. c. Drawing of parallels between the actual revolution and Old Major s idea of it d. Vocabulary study. e. Preparation/explanation of Independent Project a. Students will be able to discuss their reading and journal responses and defend their opinions using text references b. Students will be able to draw parallels between Napoleon and Stalin, Snowball and Trotsky. c. Students will be able to draw parallels between the Seven Commandments and The Bill of Rights, as well as other historical documents 1. Notebook, paper, pen 2. Reader s Journal for Chapter Two 3. Copy of the novel 4. Teacher s copy of The Bill of Rights 5. Overhead projector 6. Handouts for Independent Projects (Appendix C) C. Key vocabulary: proletariat, use of name Napoleon, skeptic, pessimist, comrades. D. Procedures/Activities 1. Teacher and students will review Reader s Journal questions, discussing any points of general interest/concern. Students will take notes, annotate journals. 2. Teacher will place the Bill of Rights on the overhead. Students will compare/contrast them with the Seven Commandments. Students will discuss those things that any country would think were important rights and privileges in a society. 4. Teacher will review/explain vocabulary as it relates to the characters of Benjamin, Napoleon, lower animals. Students will record vocabulary in notebooks. E. Evaluation: Students will be evaluated on class participation and completion of Reader s Journal. Lesson Six: The Early Days of Animal Farm (one day) a. Class discussion of Chapter Three and review of Reader s Journal b. Delineation of differences between Snowball s ideals and those of Napoleon, and the growing dissension between the two 5

6 c. Exploration of historical parallels (Napoleon as Stalin; Snowball as Trotsky) d. Exploration of the use of patriotic symbols e. Vocabulary study : a. Students will be able to identify political and philosophical differences among characters, using text references. b. Students will be able to correlate the history of Stalin and Trotsky with Snowball and Napoleon c. Students will be able to identify propaganda and the use of patriotic symbols. 1. Notebook, paper, pen 2. Reader s Journal for Chapter Three 3. Copy of the novel C. Key Vocabulary: cryptic, skeptical, propaganda, symbols, irony, satire D. Procedures/activities 1. Teacher and students will review Reader s Journal questions, discussing any points of general interest/concern. Students will take notes, annotate journals. 2. Students will find the description of the Animal Farm Flag in Chapter Three and compare it with the Soviet flag. 3. Further differences: What do these mean? Snowball attempts to include all animals in committees for improvement, but Napoleon concentrates on the education of the young i.e. the puppies. 4. Students are asked to speculate on the inability or refusal of some animals to learn to read. What is the effect to a society of an undereducated citizenry? When the Seven Commandments are reduced to a simple slogan, is the essential principle of Animalism still expressed? 5. Students are asked to consider why Benjamin, who can read, chooses not to. What is the meaning of his cryptic remark, Donkeys live a long time. None of you has ever seen a dead donkey? Symbolically, what type of citizen would Benjamin represent? 7. One student is asked to read aloud Squealer s explanation of what has happened to the milk that disappeared in Chapter Two. Teacher and students explore propaganda and faulty logic. E. Evaluation: Students will be evaluated on class participation and completion of Reader s Journal. Lesson Seven: Napoleon Takes Over (two days) a. Class discussion of Chapters Four and Five and review of Reader s Journal b. Comparison of Foxwood and Pinchfield to Britain/France and Germany c. Drawing of historical parallels with the Russian Civil War d. Exploration of revisionism as a propaganda tool e. Dramatization of the expulsion of Snowball a. Students will be able to identify major differences in philosophy between Snowball and Napoleon 6

7 b. Students will be able to draw parallels between the concerns of Snowball and Napoleon and those of Trotsky and Stalin c. Students will be able to explain the allegorical use of the neighboring farms d. Students will be able to identify the events in Chapter Five as a coup d etat and explain reasoning. e. Students will be able to recognize difference in tone between Chapters Four and Five and give possible reasons for the shift. f. Students will be able to role play and dramatize events from the novel 1. Paper, pen, notebook 2. Reader s Journal for Chapters Four and Five 3. Copy of the novel C. Key Vocabulary: coup d etat, revisionism, tone, point of view, mass hysteria. D. Procedures/Activities Day One: 1. Teacher will lead students in review of Reader s Journal questions, discussing any points of general interest/concern. Students will take notes, annotate journal. 2. Teacher reviews prior knowledge by explaining that Orwell uses Foxwood to represent Britain and France, and Pinchfield to represent Germany. She explains that later these connections will become even more important, and that students should be aware of future dealings with the two farms. Teacher also explains the allegorical use of the Battle of the Cowshed to depict the Russian Civil War. 3. Students are asked for possible reasons why Orwell chooses to present his depiction of the war in such a light, even humorous tone. 4. Students will form groups of three or four to explore, for about five minutes, the contributions of each of the following characters to the Battle of the Cowshed: Snowball, Boxer, the pigeons, the geese, other animals. 5. At the end of five minutes, groups unite for class discussion. Teacher asks What have we observed about the military skills of Snowball? The performance of the other animals as soldiers? 6. Students will explore other parallels that have direct reference to Russia: the giving of medals, the establishment of ceremonial days to celebrate the animals victory, the naming of the battle, etc. 7. Teacher will assign each student to take a part in tomorrow s dramatization of the meeting in Chapter Five. One student is to act as a narrator, advancing the plot and explaining the progression of the action. He/she will give the animals verbal cues to begin their performance. The students representing Snowball and Napoleon are told that they may ad lib their dialog, but that it must be true to the spirit of the meeting. Other students will be cast as pigs, sheep, dogs, etc, and told that they are to behave as their particular characters behave in the book. Day Two 1. Teacher asks for responses about Mollie s motivation in becoming a traitor. Students are asked to explore whether or not she would ever become a true revolutionary. 7

8 2. Teacher introduces the decisive meeting at which both Snowball and Napoleon are to have their say. 3. Students, led by the narrator, present their dramatization. (For this activity, it is easier if only the narrator and the two main characters come to the front, with the other animals remaining at their desks, until the decisive moment when Snowball is chased away by the dogs.) 4. Teacher and students discuss whether it is easier for someone to sway a crowd than an individual. Teacher introduces the term, mass hysteria. 5. Teacher will present historical differences between the political philosophies of Trotsky and Stalin (Trotsky favored industrialization after the Revolution and the spreading of revolutionary ideas to other countries; Stalin favored a strong emphasis on agriculture and the solidifying of Communist doctrine in Russia over reaching out to other areas.) Students will be asked to draw comparisons with Snowball and Napoleon. 6. Teacher and students discuss revisionism as it relates to the propaganda about Snowball, i.e. he is no better than a criminal, and His part in the Battle of the Cowshed was greatly exaggerated. 7. Students are asked to consider what changes Napoleon made almost as soon as Snowball is gone. What is the effect of these changes (to consolidate his power, to put down dissension, etc.)? 8. Teacher reviews/explains any vocabulary not specifically addressed in discussion. Students put vocabulary words in notebooks. E. Evaluation: Students are evaluated on class participation, evidence of understanding their characters, and completion of the Reader s Journal. Lesson Eight: Hard Times on the Farm (two days) : a. Composition (in class and at home, exploring topic relevant to reading.) b. Discussion, review of Chapters Six and Seven a. Students will show understanding of events in Chapters Six and Seven by writing about chosen topics b. Students will be able to discuss their Reader s Journal responses and defend their answers using text references. : 1. Copy of novel 2. Paper, pen 3. Reader s Journal C. Key vocabulary: scapegoat, tone, setting. D. Procedures/activities 1. Teacher will assign students a composition of two pages on one of the following topics: a. Compare what happens in Chapters Six and Seven with what Old Major said would happen under man s rule. b. Show how Orwell uses setting and tone to underscore his meaning in these two chapters. 2. Students will begin prewriting and drafting in class, complete revision and final draft at home. 8

9 3. Teacher and students will review Reader s Journal questions for Chapters Six and Seven, 4. Teacher will introduce historical parallels with the Great Purges, and Stalin s policy toward the West in the 1930s and early 40s. E. Evaluation; Students will be evaluated by composition, class participation, and completion of Reader s Journal. Lesson Nine: Comic Relief (one day) a. The use of humor to provide a light touch to grim narrative b. Discussion of Chapter Eight c. Exploration of author s purpose a. The student will be able to discuss opinions, defend answers using text references b. The student will be able to explore a writer s use of humor to alleviate the severity of tone and lighten a mood. c. The student will experiment with rewriting to change the tone of a piece of writing. : 1. Paper, pen, notebook 2. Copy of novel 3. Reader s Journal C. Procedures/activities 1. Teacher and students will review Reader s Journal for Chapter Eight 2. Teacher and students will discuss the use of a light tone to relieve the grimness of the last two chapters 3. Students will pick out words and events that they think are particularly manipulated in terms of tone. They will rewrite those passages attempting to make the tone more serious by changing the words. D. Evaluation: Students are evaluated on rewriting, completion of Journals, and class participation. Lesson Ten - All Animals are Equal, but... (two days) 1. Lesson Content a. Discussion of Chapters Nine and Ten b. Review of Reader s Journal c. Study of irony d. Study of comparison between humans and animals in Chapter Ten. a. The student will be able to identify irony and satire as used in Chapter Nine and Ten b. The student will be able to draw parallels and pull together the threads of narrative to follow plot and theme. c. The student will be able to synthesize ideas and discuss them with classmates. : 1. Paper, pen, notebook 9

10 2. Copy of novel 3. Reader s Journal C. Procedures/ activities 1. Teacher and students will discuss Reader s Journal and Chapters Nine and Ten. 2. Teacher will lead discussion to show that virtually everything Old Major warned against has come true again. 3. Teacher will address any problems relating to Independent Study and presentation of projects. D. Evaluation: Students will be evaluated on class participation and completion of Reader s Journal. Lesson Eleven: Independent Study Projects (one day) a. Presentation of long-term research and/or project b. Demonstration of knowledge on topic of student s choice a. The student will be able to share knowledge gained independently with classmates b. The student will be able to demonstrate synthesis and understanding of concepts taught during unit. : Students choice C. Procedures/activities 1. Students will present culmination of independent work in a manner that fosters understanding and enjoyment on the part of class 2. Students will do whatever it is they have prepared to demonstrate their independent work: skits, videos, posters, musical selections, etc. D. Evaluation: Students will be evaluated on their project and the evidence of independent work. Lesson Twelve: Movie Version of Animal Farm (one day) : viewing of video version of Animal Farm : to synthesize content, be able to differentiate between Hollywood agenda and that of Orwell : Movie, TV, VCR. C. Procedures/Activities : Students will watch video and take notes. D. Evaluation: class participation VI. Culminating Activity: One of three final tests, (Appendix E) depending on skill level of student. 10

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