Updated: Oct 9, 2022
1984. What can I say about this book? I read it once and was like "ugh." Then I got assigned 10 Intensified and had to teach it as part of the curriculum, which I wasn't looking forward to. But let me tell you-this book creeps the fuck out of kids and I LOVE IT. It's so fun to teach...and, unfortunately, relevant for the times.
I always had a hard time teaching 1984 because I could never settle on one theme to focus on. I finally gave up and just let the unit go in every which direction by the time we got to the end. The last time I taught 1984 wasssss a long time ago-maybe 2015?, so there are probably so many better materials that came out between 2016 and 2020. Regardless, below you will find some of the basic activities & charts that you will need to get moving. The materials are in the general order that I used them. My favorite activities were always the mood analysis and the book cover.
Before Reading Activities
At the very start of the unit, before I even talk about dystopias or the book specifically, I try and get the kids thinking about surveillance societies and where they exist. To do this, I always started with this map activity where I had kids color in a map of the world according to levels of surveillance. They would color a country black if they thought there were high levels of surveillance, and blue if they thought they were low levels, and then everything in between. Inevitably, during this activity, kids will say something along the lines of "North Korea and Russia are surveillance societies...not the US." Once all the kids were dong coloring their maps, I would then reveal the actual map with the answers and kids would see that surveillance in the US is endemic...our government just hides it a little better. I always felt it was important to start this way because kids will always dismiss 1984 as "a book about North Korea" unless I shake that thought a bit at the beginning of the unit.
Here are the map activity directions & handouts;
After the map activity, I would then get into more specifics about dystopias, 1984, and surveillance in the US.
Dystopias: Definitions & Characteristics (ReadWriteThink)
1984 Opening Journal
1984 Plot Review of the Beginning of Book 1 (Takes up a big chunk of class)