George Orwell’s 1984

This unit we will be analyzing the novel 1984 by George Orwell. Published in 1948, it is a work of dystopian science fiction, set in England (called Airstrip One) in an alternate version of the year 1984.  As we read and analyze this novel over the course of the next few weeks, keep in mind the overarching theme that we have been examining this entire semester – the importance of language.

Orwell believed very strongly in the importance of simple language and literature to expose truth and highlight the reality of ‘ordinary people’. Please review the video below from class for background information on Orwell and his motivation for writing.

Additionally, we are reading Orwell’s short essay “Why I Write”, where he highlights the motivations behind all writers, and specifically discusses how he balanced these motivations within himself. Click here to access the essay.

As we discussed in class, the differences between a uptopia and a dystopia follow the chart below. However, you also discussed that a utopia would have a strong family focus, and would be efficient and planned, with little waste.

However, you very perceptively discussed how, if we want a system of ‘perfect’ laws, happiness, cleanliness and efficiency, we have to cede a certain amount of individual control (whether its governmental, economic, educational, or legislative) to make that happen – and that if that control is corrupted, a utopia can easily become a dsytopia.

We will be examining these ideas in-depth throughout our reading of Orwell’s 1984, so be aware of examples of dystopian control when they appear.

Additionally, please be sure to plan your time wisely to complete the readings for each week. You should come to class each Monday prepared for that week’s chapters. Please also prepare to have a test over each part of the novel. 

Part One

  • Chapters 1-4, October 8th-12th
  • Chapters 5-8, October 15th-19th

Part Two

  • Chapters 1-5, October 22-26th
  • Chapters 6-10, October 29th-November 2nd

Part Three

  • Chapters 1-2, November 5th-9th
  • Chapters 3-6, November 12th-16th
12th Grade Literature Fall 2018

Our Changing English Language

For our final project this nine weeks, we are going to examine the changes that have been the greatest influences on our ‘modern English’. For this assignment each group will randomly select one of the following important influences on the English Language:

  1. Shakespeare
  2. Colonalism
  3. Science
  4. The Dictionary
  5. Globalization
  6. The Internet and Technology

You will need to research how one of the topics above has influenced or changes our language, and then work to create a mini lesson and presentation for your classmates, so you can share what you’ve researched with them.

  • Background information on your topic (this can include time period, important people or events, history).
  • An explanation of how it specifically has changed and influenced the English language
  • Examples that illustrate this change in the English language.
  • Visuals that aid your classmates’ understanding of the factor’s impact on English (videos, images, skits, maps, charts, graphs, ect.)
  • Guided Notes or Worksheets that they can fill out that go along with your lesson (these should focus more on ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions that ‘what’ and ‘when’ questions).
  • Three seminar ‘questions to think about’ – one literal, one evaluative and one interpretive.

With these resources you have created, you will then teach your classmates about your topic. As you teach I will be looking to make sure:

  • Everyone in the group participates using traits of an effective communicator.
  • You ‘use the room’ and teach to everyone (no standing in the front, not moving).
  • You ask the class questions throughout the presentation to engage them.

Finally, you will demonstrate your understanding of how these topics have changed our language by participating in a Socratic seminar after all of the groups have presented. Each group will present three questions for consideration at the end of their presentation (literal, evaluative, and informative) and these will guide our Socratic discussion.

Click here for the assignment sheet and grading rubric for this project.

Below you will find a series of resources I have already complied for your for this project – use them, and be sure to add two of your own to the list!

Shakespeare

 

Colonialism

Science

The Dictionary

Globalization

 

The Internet and Technology

 

Students, please find your classmates’ presentations for this assignment linked below:

12th Grade Literature Fall 2018

Senior Skills: Using Language for Social Commentary

As we’ve read the Middle English version of The Canterbury Tales this week, we’ve discussed how Chaucer used the tales to critique society. The stories of “The Prioress” and “The Pardoner” served as social commentary on the corruption in the church, while “The Reeve” and “The Miller” tales served as commentary on the lack of morality in society.

We discussed how the delivery method of social commentary is much different today than in Chaucer’s time – while only roughly 100 copies of his book were sold in his lifetime, today we can share critiques about society with thousands of people at once through social media.

In our Socratic Seminar you discussed whether social media was the most effective form to use for social commentary – and you had brilliant conversations about what we value in society today, and how the persona and authority of a speak impacts the reach of their commentary. You also focused on the fact that many people are addicted to attention on social media, whether positive or negative, by citing this Harvard study – and you discussed how this addiction can impact what commentary we decide to share.

I’ve been very impressed with your discussions and analysis the past two weeks – it is important to understand how literature and language are used to praise or critique society and culture, as this is usually the first step towards making changes in a society or culture. You’ve already identified a few examples of social commentary from the 21st century in our class discussion post – now I would like you to create your own piece of social commentary.

Please click here for the full assignment sheet and grading rubric.

Choose a current event that you believe is important or worthy of social commentary.  Using the traits of effective rhetoric, create a piece of commentary about your chosen event or cultural trait. You may type, perform, write or create their social commentary – either physically or digitally.

You will be assessed on whether the rhetoric and language used in their commentary is effective for your stated purpose and audience. See a few examples below if you need ideas.

 

A piece of art – social commentary on how we are addicted to our phone – specially focused on the trend surrounding the ‘Pokemon Go’ game.

A social media campaign – this hashtag movement started the now widespread conversation about sexual harassment in Hollywood.

A poster – this piece of graphic design is commenting on animal testing for beauty products.

Donald Glover’s music video for the song ”This is America” severed as a piece of social commentary on police brutality and racial profiling.

12th Grade Literature Fall 2018

Senior Skills: Informed Discussions and Socratic Seminars

As you’ve practiced being active listeners and effective communicators in your small groups the past week, you’ve received feedback on how to improve the discussions you’ve been having. Now it is time to actively work towards having informed, academic discussions in the form of Socratic seminars.

What is a Socratic seminar? Informed by the teaching of Socrates, a Socratic seminar is much easier that its name suggests – it is a discussion that encourages participants to rely on questioning techniques to examine a topic or issue.  There are three types of questions I’m looking for in our discussions:

Literal Questions: Literal questions are at the very beginning of a seminar to ensure comprehension of the text. These questions can be answered directly from the text. The answers are contained within the text and are stated clearly. These are very basic questions and should only be used at the beginning of a discussion. Sample literal questions might ask for an important text detail, fact, or quote. Example: “Where does Thoreau actually mention the bean-rows in Walden?”

Interpretive Questions: These questions ask students to interpret the text. They should be genuine questions – ones that you are also interested in. No single right answer exists, but arguments can be made to support different positions. Students need to make their points using passages from the text to answer these questions. Example: “What do you think was the reasons the author alluded to [outside text] on page 334 in his novel?

Evaluative Questions: Evaluative questions are sometimes used at the very end of a seminar, to allow students to share their own positions and opinions. Answers to evaluative questions rely on student’s own experiences – either personal first person experience, a connection to another text or media consumed, or a connection to a historical event – not on the text itself. Students will not need to cite particular passages to answer these questions. Sample evaluative questions might ask for student opinions about the author’s position, or how the ideas in the text relate to their own lives. Example: “When MLK discussed the ‘Other America’ in his speech, it reminded me of actual lines from Childish Gambino’s song ‘This is America’, and I wondered if he was making a direct reference to King because…”

 

Click here for a worksheet to practice brainstorming questions before the seminar.

If ‘literal’, ‘evaluative’ and ‘interpretive’ is confusing, you can also think of the questions you need to ask in these context

 

When we conduct seminars in class, you’ll first work in your small groups. During this time you will be responsible for the duties of your ‘role’ – see the post about active listening and effective communication if you don’t remember what your role is. You will need to take this seriously and keep track of your group member’s performance with this checklist. Being diligent in keeping your group communicating effectively will make the next step in seminar much easier –

After small groups you will move on to whole class discussion. Look back at the questions that sparked the most debate or conversation in your small groups – which of those would you like to pose to the whole class? You will receive a grade for how often your group participates in the whole class discussion. Please see the guidelines below.
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12th Grade Literature Fall 2018

Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

In Chaucer’s time the church was the established cultural center of British life, and the power and importance of the church outranked even the monarchy. Towns and villages that once grew around lords providing protection now grew up around church and cathedrals. Worshipers traveled to receive sacraments and to indulgences, and to see the relics of holy saints. Men gained social status and education through working their way up through the clergy, and the church provided guidance to the people on all moral and spiritual matters.

At the same time, British society was changing – a new merchant middle class meant that upward mobility was possible for a greater number of people, as was societal influence.

Chaucer’s famous work, The Canterbury Tales, comments on these societal changes. Throughout the text we see the relationship between the classes and their expected behavior, the role of women in medieval society, the importance (and sometimes corruption) of the church through the stories of 29 individuals who are going in a pilgrimage to the cathedral at Canterbury.

Watch the video below for information on how Chaucer used language to make this social commentary.

Click here to access the stories from class with interlinear translations.

You have each been given one of four tales: The Prioress’ Tale, the prologue to the Pardoner’s Tale, the Miller’s Tale and the Reeves’ Tale. Watch the videos below for background information on each tale you’ve been assigned. Then click here to access your project over the tale from The Canterbury Tales. 

The Prioress

The Pardoner

 

The Reeve

The Miller

12th Grade Literature Fall 2018

From ‘Old’ to ‘Middle’ English

As we move away from the warrior culture and oral tradition of Beowulf and “The Dream of the Rood”, and into the established British culture of the middle ages, we will also look at how English changed form ‘Old’ to ‘Middle.

With the Norman Conquest in 1066AD, French became the language of the royals, the court, and the legal system, while Latin was still the language of the Catholic Church. With the introduction of French, ‘Old English’ began to change, losing the special endings off of adverbs and adjectives, introducing

Tyndale Bible

‘softer’ sounds and the upward inflecting vowel at the end of words. Over 10,000 words were also introduced into English from French during this time, though were distinctions existed French was still preferred. Despite these changes, English was still the language of the ‘common people’.

Once the black plague decimated the population and the working-merchant class grew (1340-1360)  – once the British took back over the monarchy from France (1453) – and once the Bible was translated into English by WilliamTyndale (1534), English began to take its place as a language with more power in British culture.


12th Grade Literature Fall 2018

Leading Through Language – Analysis of Modern Traits of Leadership Through Language Use

As we’ve analyzed the speeches in Beowulf and discussed how they illustrate the traits of leadership that were prized during that time period, it is important to consider what traits of leadership we expect in modern leaders, and how we expect them to convey these traits to us through their use of language.

In class you read excerpts from a variety of different leaders over the past 60 years. In each of these speeches you identified leadership qualities you believed were important:

  • Compassion and empathy for one’s fellow man.
  • Humility.
  • A focus on bringing others together.
  • Wisdom through experience.
  • Education and intelligence.
  • Reliability and trustworthiness.
  • Strong moral or ethical convictions.
  • Being able to relate to others or “real”.

Many of these speeches utilized the same techniques in language to express these traits of leadership – here is the list of most common techniques from our notes in class:

  • Allusions to other great leaders to cement education, moral and ethical convictions and credibility.
  • Repetition of third person pronouns such as ‘we’ and ‘us’  to bring the audience and speaker together and unify them behind a common cause.
  • Descriptions of lived experiences to illustrate wisdom through experience and to humanize the speaker and appeal to pathos.
  • Diction that contained strong, assertive language to illustrate a speaker’s seriousness and sincerity, their morals and ethics, or their willingness to fight for their cause and selflessness in giving up their own life/time for that cause.
  • Parallelism to reinforce the speaker’s beliefs, or to show they are confident that they have the authority to make repeated requests of higher authorities (or the audience).

While we only read one page excerpts from each of these speeches, you can find the full version of them below. I encourage you to watch them and continue your analysis of these speakers’ language use, and how they use language to demonstrate they possess the traits we desire of our leaders. Also, examine how they use their body language – though we haven’t discussed this yet in class, it is important to remember that speeches are a verbal/visual experience…though we read the text of these speeches and analyze their language use, the speaker’s physical presentation is just as important.

Click here to read the excerpt from class, or what the videos below.

The Difference Between Winning and Succeeding by John Wooden

Nelson Mandela, 1964 ‘I am prepared to die’

Malala Yousafzai addresses United Nations Youth Assembly

Martin Luther King Jr. at Stanford University – The Other America

Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech

Barack Obama’s Presidential Announcement

 

12th Grade Literature Fall 2018