Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

George Orwell's Animal Farm
Lourdes Orta
Time Frame:
4-5 days
US History Since 1945

Grade Levels:
6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:

The student will be able to analyze and determine central themes in George Orwell’s Animal Farm as these themes relate to the novel’s role as an allegory of Communism in Russia during WWII. 

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:

Florida State Standards:

Reading:  Key Ideas and Details

Standard 1-  Read text clearly to determine what the text says explicitly, to make logical inferences, to     cite specific textual evidence.

Standard 2-  Determine central ideas or themes of a text; summarize key supporting details and ideas.

Standard 5-  Analyze structure of the text

Standard 9- Analyze 2 or more texts addressing similar themes/topics.

Writing:  Text types and purposes

Standard 1-  Write arguments to support claims.

Standard 2-  Write informative or explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas.

Standard 4-  Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose and audience.

Standard 5-  Plan, revise, rewrite.


Speaking and listening:

Standard 2-  Integrate and evaluate information.

Standard 3-  Evaluate a speaker’s POV, reasoning and rhetoric. 

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

George Orwell Timeline- www. Historyguide.org/Europe/orwell.html.

George Orwell – Timeline/ Facebook www.facebook.com/GeorgeOrwellAuthor/timeline

Orwell’s “Wintry Conscience of a Generation”

Orwell’s  “Interview of Jonathan Swift”

Americamrhetoric.com “Top 100 Speeches”- FDR:  The Four Freedoms

Anti-Communist Propaganda-YouTube www.youtube.com/...american-cold-war-propoganda-2918

The Red Menace: 15 Vintage Anti-Communist Ads & Propaganda:  weburbanist.com/2013/06/12…anti-communist-ads-propaganda

BBC Arena Documentary:    fulldocumentary.net      T.S. Eliot Rejects Animal Farm  

 T.S. Eliot Rejects Animal Farm (July 1944)   georgeorwellnovels.com

“Are We Headed Toward the Constitution or the Communist Manifesto?” Theblaze.com

“The English and Colonial Roots of the US Bill of Rights”  teachingamericanhistory.org

Full description of activity or assignment.

After having read, annotated, and discussed George Orwell’s Animal Farm(using a primary source analysis tool, Socratic circles, structured academic controversy, photo analysis worksheet, the Jigsaw Method of Analysis and Discussion)students will engage in the following activities:

Students must have completed reading Orwell’s Animal Farm on their own prior to these activities.

Day 1-

Jigsaw Method for this activity- Students break up into 4 groups with all four documents at their disposal.  Then 1 student from each group, one who has become an expert in one particular document, makes up another grouping to discuss documents.

  • Review the George Orwell Timeline of his life
  • Search George Orwell Facebook/Timeline
  • Read Orwell’s “Wintry Conscience of a Generation”
  • Read/Review Orwell’s Interview of Jonathan Swift (an imaginary account)-
  •  Students should complete close reading /annotations on post-it notes of Swift’s A Modest Proposal as Home Learning.


Review findings with students.  Photo Analysis of Propaganda Posters and review of rhetorical strategies at work in FDR’s Four Freedoms speech.

  • Have students recreate a biographical/historical timeline for the life of Orwell.
  • Present YouTube video to students on Cold War Propaganda.  Students should actively take notes.
  • Have students view and analyze several war time posters- The Red Menace: 15 Vintage Posters
  • Students will select 1 poster and complete a Photo Analysis Worksheet to complete single source interpretation.
  • Open class discussion/teacher as facilitator.
  • Have students view FDR’s Four Freedoms speech- AmericanRhetoric.com
  • Students will note rhetorical strategies at work within the speech.  Class discussion
  • Exit Slips:  Note 10 things you didn’t know before today’s lesson
  • Students are to view, annotate, assess the following documentary as Home Learning-  BBC Arena Documentary: T.S. Eliot Rejects Orwell’s Animal Farm



Day 3-  Students now have a better understanding of the socio-political environment in which Orwell was writing his novel.  Review with students the Bill of Rights and the Four Freedoms so that students may integrate and evaluate ideas presented.

  • Review The Four Freedoms
  • Read and analyze the roots of and need for the Bill of Rights- teachingamericanhistory.org
  • Have student close read T.S Eliot’s 1944 rejection letter to Orwell
  • Have students Pair and Share- Which rhetorical strategies are at work in Eliot’s letter.  Why do you suppose Eliot yielded such power over the literary world?  What can you infer may have been Orwell’s reaction to this rejection?
  • Have students watch Glenn Beck broadcast August 14, 2010- “Are We Headed Toward Constitution or the Communist Manifesto?”  Are Beck’s points salient?  What is his point of view?  Who is his audience? 
  • Students must submit answers to the questions posed in long response format.


Day 4-5  Begin Structured Academic Controversy exercise.   Students will work through the historic controversy- the refusal to publish George Orwell’s Animal Farm as it is seen as too critical of Russia- a wartime ally.  Were Orwell’s freedoms trampled?

  • Students will divide into 2 groups- Group 1 which feels that Orwell’s rights were infringed upon and Group 2 which feels that Orwell’s rights needed to be temporarily suppressed.
  • Students from Group 1 will take turns explaining salient points.
  • The group not presenting does not rebut but articulates back to the points explored.
  • Group 2 may now present their side.
  • The listening group articulates.
  • After this Academic Controversy Exercise, students may opt to take the opposing side.
  • Students must now develop final arguments for their essays.
  • Each student  will submit a completed argument/synthesis essay of no fewer than 500 words.