1984: Part Three

As we begin Part Three of 1984 of 1984, you will be preparing for another round of group discussions over key points in the first three chapters. While you debated with other groups over about the interpretation of key scenes and were assessed on your use of rhetorical language and traits of an effective communicator last time, this round of discussions will focus on your ability to conduct ‘conversational threading’ and connect your topic of discussion with the different topics of your classmates.

The topics for chapters 1 and 2 of Part Three in 1984 are:

  1. How is juxtaposition used in chapter 1? What purpose does it serve, and how does it relate to Orwell’s overall use of paradox and irony in the novel?
  2. What is the only reason political prisoners are captured? How is this different from the proles, and how does this clearly highlight the differences between the two classes of society?
  3. Who else is imprisoned with Winston, and why are they imprisoned? How are the subtle differences in their crimes still related?
  4. What is ironic about Parson’s imprisonment? How does his reaction to his punishment differ from Winston, and what does this say about Parson?
  5. Why is physical torture used to change Winston’s mind? What is O’Brien and the party’s ultimate goal?

Questions/Topics for Round Two:

  1. Is O’Brien a former members of the brotherhood? How does the ambiguity around his character further serve Orwell’s use of paradox?
  2. Why does 2+2=5? What is the ultimate goal of the party’s torture of Winston?
  3. What is in room 101?

Additionally, we continued to discuss the possible connections and parallels to events in the book to real life. We’ve already identified to similarities between Orwell’s ‘telescreens’ as smartphones, and the ‘speakwrite’ as voice-to-text, the constant running of the screens to our constant need to be ‘plugged in’ to our phones or devices, and the microphones scattered around Airstrip One to our microphones and video recorders on our phones.

In Part Three O’Brien attempts to change Winston’s thoughts through rather drastic means – while we don’t see this in the real world, we do see  our ‘telescreens’ attempting to influence and change our habits (and maybe thoughts) through online advertising and the algorithms used to run them. After watching portions of a TED Talk about “We’re building a dystopia just to make people click on ads” (00:00:00-00:12:00 and 00:16:33-00:18:00), we discussed how our apps and ads target us for information, and how the information gathered on us is sold – in order to gather more information and sell us more stuff. As you browse the web, play Angry Birds or use Facebook over the weekend, pay attention to the ads and videos you are shown online – how does your phone know what to show you? Do advertisements you seen online influence you to click on or buy things? Do you think this is similar at all to the ideas Orwell discusses in 1984? Algorithms aren’t people, and therefore cannot make ‘bad’ decisions – however, what are the ethics involved in using these algorithms?

Also, I shared my anecdote in class of talking about buying new wedding bands, and having my phone show me specialized ads later for the exact rings Mr. Pierce and I were discussing – even though we never typed them into our phone – and you guys were really interested and (understandably) unnerved. After a little bit of researching I found out that apps that use software from Alphonso automatically enable your microphone to record and analyze what you say, and then use algorithms to show you ads. While this is pretty benign, it is something to consider in relation to the ideas Orwell presents us in the novel 1984 – plus, as users of digital platforms, you should be aware of how your private data is being used. Searching “Alphonso Automated” in iTunes or the PlayStore will show you a list of apps that use this software, and  You can read a New York Times article about the software here.

Just a few of the apps that use Alphonso software – do you recognize any of them?

As you consider the questions above over the weekend, also consider software like Alphonso – should companies be more up-front about using this software? Should they make it easier for users to disable it on their smart phones? How is this similar or different to the surveillance and thought-manipulation in 1984? What would Orwell say about this? You’ll have a Google Classroom discussion post about this later in the week, so consider it!

12th Grade Literature Fall 2018

1984 Part Two

In Part Two of the novel, we’ve analyzed the growing relationship of Winston and Julia, we’ve seen more of the power and reach of Big Brother, and we’ve seen Winston begin to commit more and more crimes against the party. As we review Part Two, remember to consider the main themes we’ve been analyzing:

  • The Power of Language
  • Privacy and Technology
  • The Control of Information
  • The Importance of History
  • Individual Freedoms
  • Relationships and Human Connections

As you analyze these themes in your groups, you will pick a minimum of three scenes in Part Two that you believe are clear examples of where you theme is playing out in Orwell’s work. You will prepare with your group members to debate others that your interpretation of these scenes is the accurate and correct on (Note: there is no one ‘correct’ interpretation for many of these scenes – you will be assessed on your rhetorical skills in this debate).

Please click here to access the checklist for your group debates.

You also worked together to brainstorm a list of the most important scenes, events, and characters in Part Two. Below you will find a series of questions generated around those topics you selected – these questions will be incorporated into your test over Part Two, so please be sure to review them!

 

  1. Early in Part Two Julia gives Winston a note reading “I love you”. How does this act illustrate her nature and personality? What other actions does she take in Part Two that clearly illustrate her character?
  2. What is the symbolism behind Winston and Julia’s first meeting place in the glen – “the golden country”?
  3. At the end of chapter two, Julia and Winston listen to the song of a thrush that lands in the glen. Later, in chapter ten, Winston remembers the song and asks Julia:

       “Do you remember,” he said, “the thrust that sang to us, that first day at the edge of the wood?”

         “He wasn’t singing to us,” said Julia. “He was singing to please himself. Not even that. He was just                singing.”

What do Winston and Julia’s vastly different interpretations of this same event reveal to us about             their  beliefs and their relationship?

  1. Music is very important to Part Two – in chapter 4 Winston and Julia hear a washerwoman singing outside the antique shop while she hangs up laundry. Later, in chapter 10, they hear her again. What is the significance and irony of the song the washerwoman is singing?
  2. “The bird sang, the proles sang, the Party did not sing … You were dead; theirs [the proles] was the future. But you could share in that future if you kept alive the mind as they kept alive the body and passed on the secret doctrine that two plus two makes four” (Orwell ).

In this quote we see Winston’s belief that, if he can still keep control of his own thoughts and                    beliefs he can achieve some form of ‘freedom’, like that the proles have. What would be Julia’s                  belief in this scenario?

  1. What causes Winston to suddenly remember what happened to his mother and sister? Why is this long-forgotten memory so important to Winston?
  2. How do we know that the Inner Party is allowed more freedom than the Outer Party members? Cite evidence from chapter 8 to support your answer.
  3. During the Hate Week demonstrations, the speaker suddenly switches from describing the enemy as Eurasia to Eastasia – explain the effect does this has on the party members at the demonstration, and on Winston.
  4. How does Big Brother suddenly shifting the enemy of the state demonstrate their power? (hint – your answer should discuss one of the themes of the novel).
  5. Goldstein is painted as a radical and extremist in Part One of the novel, and is always a part of the Two Minutes Hate. However, once the reader sees his book in Part Two he no longer seems to be violent radical. Why does the Party see Goldstein’s book as dangerous? What treat does it pose?
  6. According to the manifesto, why do the three global powers engage in perpetual war?
  7. What does Goldstein lay out as the biggest threat to the oligarchy of INGCOS/Big Brother? How has the party worked to limit this threat? Cite evidence from the text to support your answer.
  8. What does the broken paperweight at the end of Part Two Symbolize?
  9. When Julia and Winston are caught, why does the voice behind the telescreen repeat everything that they say? What is the purpose of this?
  10. What is the irony in the location of the telescreen in Charrington’s rented room?
12th Grade Literature Fall 2018

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