Is Big Brother Watching ?

A WebQuest for 12th Grade (AP English)

Designed by

Deb Everson
deb.everson@k12.sd.us

Big Brother 1984

image from http://www.netcharles.com/orwell/ext/275.htm

Introduction | Task | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion | Credits

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Introduction

George Orwell's 1984 provides thought provoking material that provides challenging reading, stimulating themes of dehumanization, isolation, social class disparity, government control, and abuse of power to name a few. We will read and discuss the book as you journal each section. Of course your journals will also include setting, significant events, character analysis, themes, literary recognition and personal connections. The following study guide will help you think about important concepts the book brings up. If you read the book, you should have no problem answering these questions.

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Reading/Study Guide http://www.gerenser.com/1984/study.html

Using the themes and ideas from 1984, you must form your own opinion on today's society. Think of all the ways Orwell's book relates to things happening today. Was Orwell's 1984 only a warning of totalitarianism or did it prove to be prophetic in that we live in a world of manipulation and control, a world where information is controlled and propaganda threatens to destroy our language? Is Big Brother watching?

The Task

In this WebQuest you will be working together with a group of students in and out of class. Each group will answer the Task or Quest(ion) Is Big Brother watching? As a member of the group you will explore Webpages from people all over the world who care about the themes and ideas Orwell presented in 1984. Because these are real Webpages we're tapping into, not things made just for schools, the reading level might challenge you. Feel free to use the online Webster dictionary or one in your classroom.

Merriam-Webster Online

Each group will create a PowerPoint presentation that supports your answer to the quest(ion) and includes brief author information with at least one unique piece of information not discussed in class, an historical timeline, graphics of some sort, a compare/contrast chart of similarities and differences in the world of 1984 and the world today, and a summary of your findings. Your group will give a short oral presentation covering the topics that each person learned.
 

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The Process 

You'll begin with everyone in your group getting some background.

1. Your team must first research a bit on the author himself. Use the Internet information linked below to answer the who, what, where, when, why, and how questions.

1. Who was George Orwell?

2. What personal beliefs were reflected in his writing?

3. Where did he experience the things he wrote about?

4. When did he write this book and when was it published?

5. Why did Orwell write this book. 6. How did Orwell explain his topics and reasons for writing? Be creative in exploring the information as you will be graded on whether these questions are answered as fully and insightfully as you can. The information should be typed into a word document and sent to me via an email attachment. Be sure to include all team members' names. This information will also be useful when organizing your PowerPoint presentation, so keep track of it and add to it as necessary throughout your research.

The Literature Network @ http://www.online-literature.com/authorsearch.php

George Orwell @ http://www.levity.com/corduroy/orwell.htm

Biography Of George Orwell @ http://www.george-orwell.org/l_biography.html

Biography of George Orwell @

http://www.k-1.com/Orwell/index.cgi/about/biography.html

2. Brainstorm with your group any similarities and difference you can think of on your own.   Don't be afraid to use the obvious. Organize your thoughts using a Venn diagram, concept map, or chart before researching the links below for further analysis. These sites will not cover everything - your brainstorming will add depth to your research. An example chart is illustrated below.

1984 Today
  • Telescreens are everywhere (except for where the Proles live and work).
  • Workplace monitoring—Winston can’t look at a note on his desk or dwell too long on a single document.
  • Thought Police interpret people’s facial expressions and voice intonations.
  • Spies—one never knows whom to trust.
  • FBI surveillance
  • Corporations collecting data on consumers
  • Internet privacy issues
  • Drug testing at the workplace or school
  • Employers monitoring employees’ e-mails, phone calls, or bathroom usage
  • cameras - everywhere

You will add  to your diagram or concept map as you complete each article. You will all pick up different ideas on Big Brother as you read and search independently, so no one's "chart" will look the same.

Government spying/privacy @

 http://weblog.siliconvalley.com/column/dangillmor/archives/000677.shtml

http://www.conspiracyarchive.com/NWO/Spooks.htm

 http://www.securityfocus.com/news/2518

 http://www.jaysnet.com/

 News stories @ http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/05/15/eveningnews/main509140.shtml

http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2002/02/13/bookstores/?x

http://www.capitolhillblue.com/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cgi?archive=32&num=4656&printer=1

Privacy Law in the USA @ http://www.rbs2.com/privacy.htm

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3. Now, group members come back to the larger WebQuest team with expertise gained by searching from one perspective. You must all now answer the Task/Quest(ion) as a group. Each of you will bring a certain viewpoint to the answer: some of you will agree and others disagree. Use information, pictures, movies, facts, opinions, etc. from the Webpages you explored to convince your teammates that your viewpoint is important and should be part of your team's answer to the Task /Quest(ion). Your WebQuest team should write out an answer that everyone on the team can live with.

4. As a group create a PowerPoint presentation that supports your answer to the quest(ion). The PowerPoint should include brief author information with at least one unique piece of information not discussed in class, an historical timeline, graphics of some sort, a compare/contrast chart of similarities and differences in the world of 1984 and the world today, and a summary of your findings. Your group will give a short oral presentation covering the topics that each person learned.

Your group will want to divide out the tasks . . . for example:

One person will be the project director responsible for the copy and overseeing the creation of the PowerPoint presentation

One person will be the graphic designer who is responsible for locating graphics (gifs, jpgs, etc) that can be used in the PowerPoint presentation.

One person will be in charge of sound who is responsible for locating sounds and music that can be used in the PowerPoint presentation. 

The same would go for . . .

  • brief author information
  • unique information
  • historical timeline
  • graphics
  • compare/contrast chart
  • summary
     

Teamwork is essential!  Concentrate on accuracy, brevity, and clarity!
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Evaluation

This is a team effort, and everyone in your group should contribute equally. At the end of the WebQuest, you will get together with your group and evaluate the contributions each made to the final products.

Word document on Orwell biography - 25%

PowerPoint and PowerPoint presentation - 50% See Evaluation

Group evaluation of individual contribution - 25%

     (This includes individual written work)

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Conclusion

Hopefully, this project had enlightened you as to the similarities of our world today and the world of 1984. We have the opportunity and are even encouraged to read and think -  but do we? 1984 presents a anti-utopian world without privacy, a world without the ability to read and think and speak, a world of total government control. 1984 is a world of doublethink and Newspeak. Would you want to live in that world?

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Credits & References

school.discovery.com/

Sessions, Lisa. A Teacher's Guide to the Signet Classic Edition of

     George Orwell's 1984.

Webquest.org Website

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