1984 by George Orwell
Lesson Plans and Teaching Resources

These 1-minute videos from 60second Recap (downloadable from YouTube) introduce students to different aspects of the novel:

  • Introduction
    This video could serve as a pre-reading activity. It introduces students to the idea of accepting information because Big Brother is the source, even though they know the information to be false.
  • Summary/Overview
    An introduction to plot, character Winston Smith, and theme. Good for pre-reading.
  • Character
    An introduction to 4 characters.
  • Symbol 1
    This video explores Big Brother as symbol.
  • Symbol 2
    This video explores the glass paperweight as a symbol of the desire to connect with an authentic past.
  • Theme 1
    The dangers of totalitarianism.
  • Theme 2
    "Truth is truth only insofar as we defend it."
  • Motifs
    Designed for post-reading, this video explores Doublethink in the novel.
  • Last Word: George Orwell and the totalitarian mind
    A final word on theme.

Text of the novel in multiple formats: web-based, printable, ePub, and Kindle.

Downloadable audio book, divided by chapter.

Chapter-by-chapter study guides and some vocabulary.

A variety of reading strategies, including an anticipation guide, a biopoem, and a directed reading-thinking activity.

Designed for grades 9 and 10, this site offers a summary, theme openers, crosscurricular activities, research assignments, and suggestions for additional reading.

1984 Anticipation Guide
Students respond to 10 statements before and after reading. Access requires MS-Word or compatible application.

1984 : How Much Fact in Fiction?
Students explore both historical context and modern society. They also explore themes from the novel. Lesson plans, adaptations, discussion questions, evaluation, extensions, historical and other links, and vocabulary.

1984 Reading Group Guide
20 discussion questions.

An Anti-Hero of One's Own
This TED-ED video (4:11) explores the pattern of the anti-hero using references to Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 , among others. Captioned, includes follow-up questions and other support.

Big Brother vs. Little Brother: Updating Orwell's 1984
In this lesson, students compare and contrast the world, people and technologies of 1984 with those of today and create a treatment for a modern film, print or stage adaptation that revolves around current technologies.

Freedom of Speech and Automatic Language: Examining the Pledge of Allegiance
Students explore the history and meaning of the Pledge and First Amendment. They consider freedom of speech issues as they apply to fictional characters and their own lives. They write a pledge of their own.

Our Surveillance Society: What Orwell And Kafka Might Say
This NPR article was prompted by June 2013 news of government surveillance of phone records and web traffic. It includes links to related stories.

Pizza Palace
This fictional scenario explores the possibilities when Big Brother watches an ordinary person who just wants to order a pizza.

Teacher's Guide to 1984
Overview, bibliography, and learning activities. This extensive guide requires Adobe Reader or compatible application for access.

Vocabulary from 1984
Words from the novel, each presented in the sentence in which it appears. Click on the word for definition, pronunciation, and examples of current usage.

Nonfiction articles that go with the novel

5 Things You Should Know About the FBI's Massive New Biometric Database
A good nonfiction/informational piece to pair with the novel. Part one: can the information be confirmed? Part two: do you agree with the conclusions about civil liberties that this writer draws?

6 News Stories to Connect to Orwell's 1984
News stories, discussion questions, and extension activities.

After Execution of Kim Jong Un’s Uncle, North Korean Media Begins Editing Him Out of History
This article dated December 2013 documents a media purge in North Korea that parallels 1984 .

Computers That See You and Keep Watch Over You
This article from the January 1, 2011 New York Times explores the impact of computer monitoring.

Edits to Wikipedia pages on Bell, Garner, Diallo traced to 1 Police Plaza
A good article for how information can be presented to fit an agenda. An analysis of who edited Wikipedia information and how sources can be traced.

How Companies Learn Your Secrets
This 2012 New York Times article by Charles Duhigg outlines how corporations monitor and influence the purchasing decisions of customers without the customers' knowledge. Don't miss the part where Target knew a 15-year-old was pregnant before her father did.

Meet the Big Brother Screening Your Social Media for Employers
A thought-provoking article about employers checking an applicant's social media activities prior to hiring.

Stealing J. Edgar Hoover's Secrets
This video from the New York Times (13:36) explores the 1971 revelation of FBI surveillance abuses.

We're living 1984 today
This 2013 editorial compares the novel and today.

Photo Manipulation

$30,000 Watch Vanishes Up Church Leader's Sleeve
Digitally altered image involving an expensive watch on the arm of the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Manipulating Truth, Losing Credibility
In 2003 photographer Brian Walski was fired for manipulating photographs he took during the Iraq war. This article includes the originals, the altered version, and commentary.

Photo Tampering throughout History
Examples and explanations of how famous photographs were altered.

Soviet Photo Manipulation — Lenin
Primary source document: photos of Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, and Lev Kamenev, before and after Trotsky and Kamenev were "purged" during the Russian Revolution.

Snow-Wash: North Korea Doctored Photo Of Kim's Funeral
Primary source document: evidence of a manipulated photograph from the 2011 funeral of North Korean President Kim Jong-Il. Commentary mentions similar activity during the Russian Revolution.

Your Favorite Historical Moments were Photoshopped
A collection of historical images and an explanation of how they were altered. Don't miss the cover of the Beatles' album, Abbey Road .