Great Books: 1984: Teacher s Guide

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1 Great Books: 1984: Teacher s Guide Grade Level: 9-12 Curriculum Focus: Literature Lesson Duration: Four to five class periods Program Description George Orwell s bleak vision of the future was a world dominated by television screens that monitor lives and control minds, suppressing individualism. But that s nothing to worry about in the land of the free or is it? Lesson Plan Student Objectives Discuss modern privacy issues and the justifications and arguments behind privacy violations. Research the issues behind modern privacy violations. Create and perform skits illustrating these violations and issues. Write paragraphs expressing their understanding of these violations and issues. Materials Great Books: 1984 video and VCR, or DVD and DVD player 1984, by George Orwell Computers with Internet access Pens and paper Procedures 1. Ask students whether they ever feel that their privacy is threatened by the government, corporations, the media, or other entities. Have they ever had any experiences in which they felt that their rights to privacy were violated? Has anyone ever been in a situation that is reminiscent of a situation that occurs in 1984? 2. Write the word privacy at the top of the board and then draw a two-column chart with the headings 1984 and Today. Have students copy the chart onto their own papers. Ask students to contribute examples of privacy restrictions in the novel and in modern society and write their ideas in the appropriate columns. A sample chart follows.

2 Great Books: 1984: Teacher s Guide Today Telescreens are everywhere, except where the Proles live and work. Workplace monitoring Winston can t look at a note on his desk or dwell too long on a single document. Thought Police interpret people s actions and ideas. FBI surveillance Corporations collect data, Internet privacy issues Drug testing at the workplace or school Employers monitoring employees s, phone calls, or facial expressions and voice intonations Spies Students will probably mention the issue of being monitored by teachers and parents, being prohibited from visiting certain Web sites, having their lockers or bedrooms inspected, and so forth. Explain that these issues differ from privacy issues in our society because parents are generally accorded the right to monitor their children s behaviors, and the courts have determined that schools are places in which students relinquish some of their constitutional rights. The focus of the lesson should stay on privacy issues in society rather than in the specialized societies of home and school. 3. Divide the class into groups of about four students. Ask each group to choose one, or assign each group a specific privacy issue. Instruct groups to conduct Internet and print research for current privacy-related issues and debates. Students should be able to answer the following questions: What privacy issue are you researching? In what ways is privacy allegedly being violated? What are the justifications for this violation of privacy? Who is implementing the privacy-invading measures: the government, corporations, or both? How does this issue affect our society? What individuals, groups, or organizations are involved in this issue? 4. Have groups prepare five-minute skits that should include a variety of viewpoints and a reference to Group members should portray characters discussing and debating the group s specific privacy-related issue. Each scene should be no more than five minutes long. Here s a sample scenario: An employee of a large company has been fired. The reason is that she arrived late too often. But she recently discovered that her boss had read some of her messages in which she mentioned him in an unflattering manner. The

3 Great Books: 1984: Teacher s Guide 3 characters include the fired employee, the employee s lawyer, the boss, and the manager who wrote the company s policy. Either the employee or her lawyer would make a statement comparing the scenario to something that might have happened in Or the boss or manager could explain how the company s policy differs from those described in Have students perform their skits. Have the class briefly summarize the issues raised in the skit. 6. After all groups have performed, instruct students to write paragraphs that answer the following questions: Assessment What do you think is the most important privacy-related issue in today s society? How does this issue affect you? Are the privacy-related themes in 1984 still l relevant today? Provide examples from the novel and from your experiences in and knowledge of today s society. Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students work during this lesson. Vocabulary 3 points: Students displayed exemplary effort in class discussions and note taking, group work, creation of skit, participation in performance and written assignment. 2 points: Students displayed average effort in class discussions and note taking, group work, creation of skit, participation in performance and written assignment. 1 point: Students displayed minimal effort in class discussions and note taking, group work, creation of skit, participation in performance and written assignment. cookie Definition: Small data files placed on a computer s hard drive after a computer user visits certain Web sites Context: Concerned that some companies might figure out the Web sites she visited, Annabelle disabled her Web browser s ability to accept cookies. racial profiling Definition: The act of defining members of a particular racial group as being more likely than average to engage in illegal activities Context: The police department s practice of racial profiling angers many residents, particularly those who feel they are being singled out. search and seizure Definition: The act of looking for, locating, and removing material, usually illegal possessions or potential evidence of a crime; generally used to describe the power of the police or other government officials to locate and remove evidence from a person s body or property

4 Great Books: 1984: Teacher s Guide 4 Context: The police conducted an illegal search and seizure when they searched Paul s house without a warrant and took certain items as evidence. Stalinism Definition: The bureaucratic, authoritarian exercise of state power and mechanistic application of Marxist-Leninist principles associated with Josef Stalin Context: Many people who denounce communism are thinking of Stalinism, a rigid and brutal totalitarian government. surveillance Definition: A close watch kept over someone or something Context: The convenience store manager has just purchased a new surveillance system to capture all customers activities on video. Academic Standards Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) McREL s Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education addresses 14 content areas. To view the standards and benchmarks, visit link: This lesson plan addresses the following national standards: Language Arts Viewing: Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media; Reading: Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of literary texts Arts Theater: Demonstrates competence in writing scripts, Uses acting skills The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the International Reading Association have developed national standards to provide guidelines for teaching the English language arts. To view the standards online, go to This lesson plan addresses the following NCTE standards: Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and non-print texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.

5 Great Books: 1984: Teacher s Guide 5 Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities. Support Materials Develop custom worksheets, educational puzzles, online quizzes, and more with the free teaching tools offered on the Discoveryschool.com Web site. Create and print support materials, or save them to a Custom Classroom account for future use. To learn more, visit DVD Content This program is available in an interactive DVD format. The following information and activities are specific to the DVD version. How To Use the DVD The DVD starting screen has the following options: Play Video This plays the video from start to finish. There are no programmed stops, except by using a remote control. With a computer, depending on the particular software player, a pause button is included with the other video controls. Video Index Here the video is divided into four parts (see below), indicated by video thumbnail icons. Watching all parts in sequence is similar to watching the video from start to finish. Brief descriptions and total running times are noted for each part. To play a particular segment, press Enter on the remote for TV playback; on a computer, click once to highlight a thumbnail and read the accompanying text description and click again to start the video. Curriculum Units These are specially edited video segments pulled from different sections of the video (see below). These nonlinear segments align with key ideas in the unit of instruction. They include onscreen pre- and post-viewing questions, reproduced below in this Teacher s Guide. Total running times for these segments are noted. To play a particular segment, press Enter on the TV remote or click once on the Curriculum Unit title on a computer. Standards Link Selecting this option displays a single screen that lists the national academic standards the video addresses. Teacher Resources This screen gives the technical support number and Web site address.

6 Great Books: 1984: Teacher s Guide 6 Video Index Part 1 (14 min.) George Orwell despised totalitarianism and feared the dangers of too much power and control. The characters Winston and Julia represent hope in a world of dictators. Part 2 (13 min.) Autobiographical information about Orwell reveals his disillusionment with revolution and his honest desire to change society. Part 3 (13 min.) The novel 1984 is a frightening prediction of the future with its references to privacy issues and totalitarian control. Part 4 (9 min.) Torture and the diminishing value of language are used to control people. As it becomes more refined, computer technology increasingly harnesses human capabilities. Curriculum Units 1. Welcome To Oceania Q: What does utopia mean? A: According to Merriam-Webster, utopia is a place of ideal perfection especially in laws, government, and social condition. Q: What are the social classes in this society? A: The elite members of the party and the proletariat 2. About Orwell Q: In addition to 1984, what other books did Orwell write? A: Animal Farm may be the only novel students are aware of; others include Coming Up for Air and Keep the Aspidistra Flying. Q: What is author Margaret Drabble s theory why Orwell chose to live in a remote area? A: She believes he may have feared a nuclear war. In that case, he probably would have been safe from an attack on London.

7 Great Books: 1984: Teacher s Guide Today Q: Do you think it is acceptable for governments to use surveillance cameras in public places? A: Answers will vary. Q: What does the novel 1984 warn against today? A: The human desire for total power and control 4. Loss of Privacy Q: How does losing privacy affect a person s freedom? A: Answers will vary, but could include the idea that when people feel they are being watched, their behavior will change. Q: How do we know that Orwell valued privacy? A: He chose to live on a remote island without a telephone. 5. Technology as the New Human? Q: Could a robot ever replace a human being? Why or why not? What does a robot have that a human does not, and vice versa? A: Answers will vary. Q: The brainpower of a personal computer can be compared to the brainpower of what animal? A: A mouse 6. Violating Human Rights Q: What are human rights? A: Answers may include life, liberty, owning property, happiness, etc. Q: Why is Winston going to be tortured with rats? A: Individuals are tortured with their greatest fear; Winston s fear is rats. 7. Language Q: What is the purpose of language? A: Answers will vary.

8 Great Books: 1984: Teacher s Guide 8 Q: Why did Orwell think the English language was being treated in a beastly manner? A: Orwell believed the English language was being mistreated because clichés, euphemisms, and acronyms were becoming increasingly used instead of words that reflected who the individual was and what they really mean. 8. Totalitarianism Q: What is a totalitarian government? A: According to Merriam Webster, totalitarian means of or relating to a political regime based on subordination of the individual to the state and strict control of all aspects of the life and productive capacity of the nation especially by coercive measures (as censorship and terrorism). Q: How does the Ministry of Love ensure total loyalty? A: People are tortured until they are emotionally drained and willing to accept party values and beliefs.

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