Digital Mysteries: Animal Farm is a unique app for 11-14 year olds which allows pairs to work simultaneously on one iPad, on a task which splits the story up into digestible segments and encourages discussion. It is a collaborative experience throughout the whole process.
The task is mapped to the English curriculum and can be used to support the study of the book Animal Farm and the themes running through it.
Students are provided with several slips of illustrated information which cover much of the storyline and characters. The students must read and sort through the slips together to come up with an answer to the question “How do the pigs take control of Animal Farm at the time of the Rebellion and its aftermath?”
While this task could be used around the same time as students are reading the whole text Animal Farm, it would also be an ideal way to introduce the book in an interesting and engaging way. Students can get an overview of the main characters, but also begin to understand some of the themes and concepts behind them. An alternative would be to do this task after reading the full text, as a way of summarising, reflecting, discussing and piecing together different elements.
It is intended to help the least able students to identify the various strategies and techniques used by the pigs to seize power in Animal Farm. There is not very much in the way of historical context here; it is mainly designed to focus on the text. However, it could provide a platform for the more able students to develop their understanding of the control of information, and then begin to relate the events in the book to the wider questions of the use and manipulation of the education system and the media by various interested groups.
Users move through an easy-to-follow, three stage process – they must first read through the slips, organise them into groups, then move to the final stage where they lay out the slips in a chain and use sticky tapes and notes to help make sense of everything. Although the question is open-ended, students learn lots of useful information along the way, all while developing key skills of collaboration and problem-solving.
After the students have went through the problem-solving process, they can then go through the Reflection Stage. This allows them to play back what they have done, discuss their choices and share with others what they thought during the process and whether after reflection, they still think the same. This can be done alone, in their groups, with their teacher or as a whole class. A PDF report is also generated as a summary of the session, and is available to print or share.
This mystery has 24 slips of information/statements which cover some of the main aspects of the book. It has three difficulty levels (Easy has 18 slips, Medium adds a further 4, and Hard has all 24 slips). The level can be changed in the settings.
For the Medium level of this task, the slips/statements build upon the question of the manipulation of facts and the control of the information that the animals could access. It also includes a reference to Moses the raven, and the suggestion that the promise of a happy afterlife can be used to temper (or justify) suffering in this life.
The Hard level of this task includes an additional 2 slips which could lead to discussion on the class struggle, and perhaps the question of vested interests, whatever they could be. Hopefully the higher ability students will be able to build on the work done so far to consider the importance of education in the struggle against tyranny.
How can I try other mysteries?
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Minor bug fixes
Up to six family members will be able to use this app with Family Sharing enabled.