Sunday, April 03, 2016

An 8th Grade Animal Farm Reflection

Recently in Humanities, we had a debate, where we were acting as a character from the novel Animal Farm. It was a really interesting experience, and I learnt many things when reading the book and when putting myself into on of the characters' shoes and debating from their perspective.

The novel. 

Which character did you identify with most in Animal Farm and why?
     I think I identify the most with Clover. She is a hard-working character, and has her own opinions on things, and I think that I have these same characteristics. The only difference between us, is that I voice my opinions much more, and she keeps herself a bit more silenced. Also, throughout the book, when we got to her thoughts were described to us, I agreed pretty much 100% of the time. 

In the novel, what was the most memorable moment or quotation?
     For me, the ending definitely struck me the most. The last paragraph reads: "Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which" (Orwell, 54).  I find this the most powerful and most memorable because it really fits with the themes of the book, and it also tells the reader the life we're living. It's comparing human greed to animals, so that it becomes clear to the reader that this is how our world is. It might not be a happy ending, but it is still a truthful and loyal-to-the-book ending. 

In what ways did reading Animal Farm help your understanding of the Russian Revolution?
     I definitely understood more about the feelings and thoughts that could have gone through different groups of people's minds, and I the fog cleared more when it came to the emotional and psychological effect Lenin, Stalin and Napoleon had on the society they were dictating over.  Without the book, I realised that things such as the Red Terror Campaign were really bad for Russia's people, but if I had not read Animal Farm, I wouldn't have been able to had an emotional connection with the families who had people executed or the bystanders who watched in fear. 

Describe your experience reading Animal Farm. Was the novel engaging? How did you feel about the author's style of writing? Would you recommend the book to another reader?
     I really enjoyed reading Animal Farm. It was a different type of book to the ones I've been reading recently, and it was really interesting. Orwell described the story in comparison to the Russian Revolution really well. Also, the characters and the descriptions really enhanced my reading. The way that the author wrote the book helped me to become more engaged and hooked to the story, because even though I already knew the plot a little due to the Russian Revolution, I still wanted to read on and on, hoping that the characters received a happier ending. Even though they did not, I would still recommend this book to others because it is really powerful. Although I know that everybody reads it in a different way, the themes and messages in the novel are so powerful and imprinting in a persons mind, that they will not forget Animal Farm that easily. 
Describe your personal approach to annotation, paying attention to successes and challenges. What techniques helped with your understanding of the text?
     When we had guiding questions to pay attention to when annotating, I was able to pick up the most important things out of a chapter. Since teachers have read and analysed this book very carefully, it's helpful when they point out to us students what to look out for, so that we can understand things better and be able to make connections and have deep thoughts throughout the book.

Why did Orwell write Animal Farm? Do you think this thematic message is relevant to today? Explain.
     I think that Orwell wrote Animal Farm to not only clarify the Russian Revolution to those who didn't understand it, but to also clarify how polluted our world is. The message about tyranny that he is sending is very clear, and is easily connectable to many major historical events in our world history, but also in a local, modern society. For example, when Napoleon gives himself many privileges and doesn't give these to the people, I think that it is relatable to corruption now-a-days. It isn't as violent or extreme as in the book, but it is still there. 

The debate.

Describe your experience during the Animal Far election. What were some personal challenges and successes?
     This debate in Humanities was a little different than the debates I had done before. A challenge I faced here was remaining calm when responding to people's statements or questions. If I couldn't think of anything to respond immediately I had to make sure that the other person didn't see my nervousness. This is something that I hadn't had a lot of practice with during class, so I had to figure it out by myself. 

What formative experiences helped you prepare best for the summative election (annotations, class discussions, socratic seminar, character char, literary analysis paragraph, research, small group discussions, peer revision, peer practice, etc.)?
     For the speech, all our formative writing tasks helped. Since last semester, I've learnt many new writing techniques, such as the use of clap-traps, that vastly helped in the writing of my speech. 

What is one moment you will always remember from the election?
     I think the thing that I will most remember from the election, is when everyone was laughing and smiling. It isn't exactly one moment, but it happened many times and it was something great either way. It is so noticeable how much our classmates and I have become closer and more comfortable with each other over the course of the school year.

What did you learn about persuasion?
    You can only persuade somebody if you said what you want right. Even if you had good ideas, it is the way you say it that actually persuades the person. At least, that is what I have noticed. If you talk in a very enthusiastic way but have nothing important to say, you'll have more followers than if you talk in a monotone way and have great ideas. 

In what ways did preparing for the summative election give you a better understanding of the novel Animal Farm and/or the Russian Revolution? Did any of your thinking about human nature or political systems change?
     When I was preparing for the election, I had to put myself in my characters shoes, and that made me realise more the strengths and weaknesses that each character had. I was able to connect this to the Russian Revolution by understanding the roles that each figure or group of people represented.
      I'm thinking that George Orwell partly wrote this book to show people that the majority of things doen't have a happy ending. He didn't change my thinking about human nature, he just clarified it and made sure I knew it better. 

Is there anything you would have done differently if you had the chance to time travel and start this unit or assessment again? Would you change anything about the assessment? What advice would you give for students next year?
Something I would do differently, is not take the assignment so seriously. I noticed that when I was preparing for it, that I was too tense about the formality of it. When I saw the other videos, I realised that I could have relaxed a bit more and that I could have added more humour to my video.

1 comment:

  1. Rosanne, I agree with favorite part was how relaxed and willing to take risks everyone was. So much laughter and fun. It is a testament to your leadership because you always help to make people feel relaxed and important. I enjoyed reading your reflections...I can see so clearly what you have learned and how you learned it