Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Follow the Leader!

Colleen Starr


Orwell shows how leaders and followers in a society can act in ways that destroy freedom and equality. Choose a leader and a follower from [Animal Farm] and write an essay explaining how the behavior of each contributes to the loss of freedom and equality.


The student selects and uses strategies to understand words and text, and to make and confirm inferences from what is read, including interpreting diagrams, graphs, and statistical illustrations.

The student applies a variety of response strategies, including rereading, note taking, summarizing, outlining, writing a formal report, and relating what is read to his or her own experiences and feelings.

The student drafts and revises writing that: is focused, purposeful, and reflects insight into the writing situation; has an organizational pattern that provides for a logical progression of ideas; has effective use of transitional devices that contribute to a sense of completeness; has support that is substantial, specific, relevant, and concrete; demonstrates a commitment to and involvement with the subject; uses creative writing strategies as appropriate to the purpose of the paper; demonstrates a mature command of language with precision of expression; has varied sentence structure; and has few, if any, convention errors in mechanics, usage, punctuation, and spelling.


-[Animal Farm]by George Orwell
-Writing Assignment instruction handout, see attachments
-Writing Assignment Rubric Checklist, see attachments
-Assignment handout originally developed by Leslie McDonald, Gulf Breeze High School, Santa Rosa District


1. Thoroughly prepare and lead class discussions that examine historical parallels and literary analysis of [Animal Farm]. Use teaching guides for novel available through almost any textbook company to gather additional information on parallels if you are unfamiliar with this information. Most of these support materials will include handouts that can be reproduced for student use as notes if you wish. I use McDougal Littell Teacher Guides.
2. Complete reading of novel.
3. Duplicate Writing assignment handouts as listed in attachments.
4. Supply each student with a copy of the novel and be sure each person has a working knowledge of historical parallels and literary analysis from prior discussions before the assignment is made.
5. Adequately introduce the assignment complete with a planned timeline.
6. Thoroughly explain all phases of assignment and be prepared to answer all possible questions to troubleshoot problems with writing.
7. Encourage and assist each student as needed.
8. Adhere to the announced timeline. Collect all papers as announced.
9. Grade papers by the announced rubric checklist.
10. Return graded papers in a timely manner.
11. Use school computer lab if desired. Arrange scheduling according to school guidelines.


1. Before students read the novel, hold a class discussion explaining the parallels between historical facts surrounding the Russian Revolution and its primary figures and the novel by Orwell and its primary figures. It might be helpful to draw a chart on the board so that students see the direct parallels used in the novel. Most teacher guides have this and much more background material readily available. I use McDougal Littell materials.

2. Discuss and define the satire as a literary tool, explaining how Orwell uses it effectively in this novel.

3. Discuss the effects of leadership and followship in structured society. Brainstorm possible outcomes based on a variety of scenarios. Use cause and effect reasoning to help students see and predict possible outcomes of specific actions of the leaders of a rebellion. In addition, discuss what difficulties might arise as a new government makes the transition from a rebellion to an established form of government.

4. Write the following statement on the board encouraging student response.

The main difference between a rebel and a patriot is only a matter of which side of a conflict wins and which side loses.

5. After class discussion had led to a thorough understanding of the nature and structure of a rebellion and the subsequent problems that could arise in establishing a new government, ask students to begin reading the novel with these concepts in mind. Ask them to pay close attention to the leaders and the followers in this story as they read. Explain that we will be analyzing them both in discussion as we read and afterwards in an essay. Writing assignment sheets could be distributed at this time, but I've had great success distributing after the reading is complete. I suggest choosing the option that you think best suits your students.

6. Once all students have finished reading the novel and multiple discussions and activities have occured that emphasize cultural themes as well as appropriate literary devices used in the development of the novel, students should be thoroughly prepared to proceed with this writing assignment. It should now be a natural outgrowth of preceding discussions and thoughts.

1. Explain that it is time to transfer the conclusions and inferences about leadership and the problems and successes associated with rebellions that students have discovered through their personal evaluations of reading and discussion to an organized written format.

2. Tell students that this assignment will ask them to carefully select and evaluate the behavior of one leader and one follower who lives on Animal Farm. The purpose of selection is to show how each of these characters contributes to the loss of freedom and equality in the novel.

3. If you distributed the Writing Assignment handouts earlier, ask students to take them out now for review. Otherwise, distribute writing assignment handouts to all students and go over all instructions including the announcement of a timeline for completion of each stage. The assignment timeline should be written on the board for students to copy down on their handouts. Instruct students to copy timeline and wait for all to complete this step before moving to any other information. You will need to adjust your timeline to match with the length of your class periods. I have used this lesson with 63 minute class periods successfully. Step by step handout is included in attachments to this lesson.
*Please note that all grading of writing should reinforce the grading format of FCAT in order to properly prepare students for testing in addition to teaching them logical writing analysis. FCAT Writing Rubrics are readily available from each district Language Arts Coordinator.

4. Using the step by step instructions, ask students to complete all stages of the Prewriting phase of this assignment in writing. Allow class time for this activity. Teachers should walk around the room helping students as needed.

5. Once students have completely finished the prewriting phase on the handout, tell them they may begin the Writing phase using the prewriting outline as a guide. At any time, students are free to use their novels or discussion notes to refresh their memories or research for supporting information. Instruct students to follow the instructions exactly for polished, organized first drafts of their essays. Emphasize number 4 under the final heading of Writing on the back of the Assignment Handout. Instructions specify that all drafts of the essay should be typed. If your school has a computer lab for student use, you might want to adjust your time to include a day in the lab. My students did all their typing and revising at home. If you do not feel that all of your students have access to a computer lab, you might want to adjust this step accordingly.

6. Be sure to go over the final stage of step by step writing instructions and ask if there are any questions for clarification. This should eliminate virtually all problems in first draft writing.

7. First drafts should be completed at home and be ready for teacher input and partner discussion by the beginning of the next class. Teachers should verify that all students have completed their first drafts as soon as class begins.

8. Tell students to take out their rubric checklists and go over their drafts one last time making sure each item listed was addressed.

9. Now ask students to exchange completed drafts with a partner for preliminary evaluation. Ask students to carefully go down the rubric checklist to verify that the paper they evaluate clearly meets all organizational requirements. Then ask students to be sure the paper has continuity or flow through the use of transitions and an adequate introduction and conclusion.

10. Once personal evaluations are complete, ask student partners to discuss their findings with each other.

11. Final corrections should be made as the papers are polished for the final draft stage of development.

12. Remind students that typed final drafts are due by next class.
13. Final draft packets should include all of the following items stapled together in this order.

Rubric Checklist
Writing Assignment Instruction handout
Typed final draft
First draft with corrections and partner suggestions

14. Teachers should collect final draft packets, accepting only those following guidelines. Papers should be graded and returned promptly providing thorough feedback on organization and content.

*Teachers should follow established guidelines regarding the acceptance of late work.


1. Ongoing class discussions of character development, literary analysis, and historical parallels.
2. Teacher observation at each stage of progression of writing assignment.
1. Completion of prewriting handout, 75 points.
2. Completions of first draft, 75 points.
3. Participation in peer review, 50 points.
4. Evaluation of final product by established checklist, 100 points.


Lesson helps create a socially critical eye for those who might become leaders one day but also for all students who will definitely be eligible to be registered voters. This assignment also develops communication skills and provides an opportunity for time management.
May be modified for ESOL or Learning Disabled students.
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