Activity Overview

In June 2015, Americans were rocked by the disclosure of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) unabashed data mining of phone records from ordinary American citizens. A former government contractor named Edward Snowden, who worked for the NSA and stole classified documents, and disclosed the revelation to journalists who work for The Guardian and The Washington Post. Americans who were already leery of their government’s growing reach were instantly reminded of the Orwellian dystopia pictured in 1984, and the novel saw a resurgence in retail sales and classroom applications.

Have students research some government or political scandals like the 2013 NSA scandal example, and document how the government or leaders overstepped their bounds. Have them document the scandal in a Storyboard using historical photos from our Photos For Class search engine, or using characters.

Lesson Enhancement

After reading 1984, have students read the “Lesson of the Ants” Arthur experiences in Book I of The Once and Future King. Have students create a storyboard that compares and contrasts the language of Newspeak with the language of the ants. Ask students to analyze the impact that the restriction of language has on both societies, and on the citizens’/ants’ thought processes.

Additional Lesson Idea

Have your students analyze how much information they put online via social media sites and services. Never before in history have we provided so much private, personal information about ourselves to be viewed publicly! Ask them a popular question that many have asked in the wake of services such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram:

Have we become Big Brother?

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Create a timeline of a political or government scandal and document how the government or leaders overstepped their bounds.

  1. Use the template provided by your teacher.
  2. Research a political or government scandal. Identify 6-10 major steps or events.
  3. Describe each stage in each description box on the timeline.
  4. Illustrate each with appropriate images, with characters or Photos For Class
  5. Click "Save & Exit" when done.

Lesson Plan Reference

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/2] Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/4] Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone)
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/6] Analyze a particular point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of literature from outside the United States, drawing on a wide reading of world literature
  • [ELA-Literacy/W/9-10/2] Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content
  • [ELA-Literacy/W/9-10/4] Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)
  • [ELA-Literacy/W/9-10/6] Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Historical Timeline
Choose 6 major milestones in the development of understanding in this topic and produce a timeline storyboard showing how ideas have changed and why.
Proficient Emerging Beginning
Event description
All the cells are clearly described with details of the significance of the milestone.
All the cells are clearly described.
Some cells are described.
The storyboard cells clearly illustrate all the 6 chosen historical moments.
The storyboard cells clearly illustrate some of the 6 chosen historical moments.
The storyboard cells does not clearly any of the 6 chosen historical moments.
Evidence of Effort
Work is well written and carefully thought out.
Work shows some evidence of effort.
Work shows little evidence of any effort.

Image Attributions
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