Tag Archives: Animal Farm


15 Nov

I have been on a picture book buying spree and happened upon an awesome text entitled CLICK, CLACK, MOO – Cows That Type.

The text begins with a group of cows who like to type.  They annoy the farmer by spending all their time at the typewriter.  They then start making requests.  These requests multiply, with the cows typing notes on behalf of their fellow animals.

I love this book!

I think it would be great as an introduction to Animal Farm as it explores ideas about agency.  For this same reason, it would be an interesting introduction to units exploring activism and identity.

Equality in a dystopian world

28 Jan

Harrison Bergeron‘,  a short story by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., presents us with a society in which equality is enforced by purposefully handicapping those people who have natural intellect or beauty that exceeds the lowest levels of these qualities in society.

Vonnegut’s short story would be a great companion text to Orwell’s Animal Farm, offering students an opportunity to think critically about abuses of power, the complexities of seeking to create an equal society, and, of course, the famous Animal Farm maxim that all are equal, but some are “more equal than others.”

Thug summaries

26 Jan

Narrative summaries provide a useful overview for students, helping them to understand key issues and chains of causation in texts.  However, it is often difficult to find engaging summaries.

Today I stumbled upon Thug Notes, which offers concise texts summaries gangsta style.  While I am not really a fan of the gratuitous profanities that accompany some of these summaries, I do appreciate the ways in which Thug Notes manages to distill key textual issues in relatively easy to follow ways.

In particular, I would give students the option of viewing the summary of component of the Thug Notes version of Animal Farm.  The straight talking coupled with the visuals render the general narrative arc relatively easy to follow.

Draw that definition

14 Jan

As noted previously, my year nine students will need to understand what an allegory is before commencing their study of Orwell’s Animal Farm.  Given the importance of this concept, I am planning to devote an entire lesson to defining and exploring what an allegory is and how it works.

To start that lesson, I will give students the first two paragraphs of the definition of allegory provided by Shmoop.  Students will be tasked with reading that definition, highlighting key words, and creating an annotated visual representation of that definition.  The highlighting and visual representations (along with any questions generated) will be the subject of a follow on class discussion.

A novel in 12 words or less

12 Jan

Want to see what students consider to be the key message of a text?  Challenge them to create a summary in 12 words or less!

For some amusing examples, check out this gallery in the Washington Post.  Many of the classic texts are represented, including Animal Farm and To Kill a Mockingbird.

The Animal Farm Defence

11 Jan

Orwell is the author of one of the most famous lines in literature: “All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others.”

In order to explore the real-world ramifications of this statement, students could be tasked with arguing in favour of one person/group of people in an otherwise equal group being given special treatment.  See, for example, this article.

An alternate ending for Animal Farm?

11 Jan

George Orwell’s Animal Farm concludes with an inability to distinguish pigs from humans.  This ending was intended to convey the replacement of one system of rule with another, equally problematic, one.  

What if the ending was altered?  What if, instead of irony, the text ended happily ever after?

A British animated version of Animal Farm sought to do just that.

Asking students to reflect on the impact of a change of this nature would be an interesting was of testing their appreciation of the significance of the text’s ending.

Unpacking the allegory

1 Jan

This YouTube clip provides a succinct summary of the ways in which Animal Farm draws on historical events.

In and of itself the video is not detailed enough to contextualise the text.  However, it could function as a useful revision tool.

Games that do double duty

30 Dec

I am currently on the lookout for ‘getting to know you’ activities that do double duty.  By this I mean that I want the activity to help the kids introduce themselves to the class, and to be able to utilise the activity as a hook/link to the unit focus of our first module of work.

Year 9, as I have mentioned previously (here and here), is studying Animal Farm.  When studying Animal Farm, students need to understand that the animals represent historical figures.  In other words, they need to have an understanding of anthropomorphism.  One way to introduce that concept is that get students to identify and explain which animal best represents them and why.  If we share some of these responses in class, this activity will also provide us with a window into the personality of the student.

Year 7, is studying The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (see here).  This is a text which melds fact and fiction.  In order to get students to start thinking about these concepts, I was thinking of playing a game of ‘ 2 true 1 false’.  In this game, students note three pieces of information about themselves on a post-it.  Two of those pieces of information are true, one is false.   They then stick that post-it on their forehead.  Students move around the room and try figure out which pieces of information are true, and which is false.  The idea is that students try be as tricky as possible.

Explaining and exploring allegory

27 Dec

As mentioned previously, one of my year nine classes will be studying Animal Farm as part of a unit on Allegories.   In order to help my students to understand what an allegory is, I took to the Internet.

The clip below provides a general, easy to understand definition of what an allegory is.  The pace is slow enough that students can begin to absorb an unfamiliar concept, and the clip is short enough that if we need to play it more than once we can.

This definition from Shmoop is also quite accessible.  Depending on the students, the informal/conversational style of Shmoop will either be attractive or super annoying

It would also be great to introduce students to a simpler/shorter allegorical tale before tackling Orwell’s classic.  My current thinking is to use The Rabbits by John Marsden and Shaun Tan as the example.  I can’t find a good version on YouTube, so I think I will either have to film my own or have the kids sit on the floor like in kindergarten if I want them to see the pictures.

Once we have an understanding of what an allegory is, we will need to preview the book.  One way to get a sense of the narrative is by viewing a short summary such as the one below:

This clip gives students a big picture overview, introduces them to some key language and also sets the stage for a brief investigation of context.