TAG English 3-4 Reviews ‘1984’ with Interrogation-Style Trivia Game

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  • Mr. Chalk explains the rules for the Room 101 Torture Trivia review.

  • Jeffrey Moulckers ‘18 answers a question from one of the interrogators.

  • Mr. Chalk turns the spotlight onto various “inquisitors”.

  • Osric Nagle ‘18, Claire Burton ‘19 and Simon Thomas ‘19 rush to answer trivia questions posed by the rest of the class

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As students in Mr. Scott Chalk’s TAG AP English classes wrapped up their studies of George Orwell’s 1984, rather than just going home to study on their own, students participated in an unorthodox in-class review on Sept. 22-25 coined the “Room 101 Torture Trivia”.

“I am always trying to imitate what’s going on in the book and formulate it so that it is not like the traditional Socratic seminar,” Mr. Chalk said. “I like to surprise students in a different way instead of [having them] come in knowing exactly what to expect.”

This experience was not too far out of the ordinary for his students, as they had done various immersive activities over the course of reading the novel. During Howdy Week, Mr. Chalk challenged his students to participate in “Hate Week,” an annual holiday in the world of Orwell’s 1984 by wearing clothes they hated. Furthermore, he posted dozens of posters of himself around the school captioned with the strict Party mantra, “Big Brother is watching,” and told his students to find and read under them as to create an atmosphere of constant surveillance similar to the one the protagonist of the book felt. Bringing the immersion a step further, students were asked to reenact a pivotal scene from the novel from the protagonist’s perspective while completing their quizzes.

“Mr. Chalk’s style of teaching really makes the books come to life,” Lilly Swank ‘19 said. “You can really put yourself in the story. He also fully takes on his character and you can tell he cares about you knowing it as much as you should, and I just think it’s really amazing that he gets you excited about the concepts.”

For the review, students played for the three main territories within the dystopian novel, and, in the spirit of anti-capitalism, the game was required to end in a tie. Representatives from each team stood at the front of the darkened room under harsh spotlights and answered a variety of questions written by the rest of the class after smacking their faces with sticks of “coral” from the book. To add extra depth to the horrifying scene, no one was safe, as even the “inquisitors” were under scrutiny by “Big Brother” himself.

“It’s a lot of work, and it takes me a long time to think of something like that,” Mr. Chalk said. “I think students appreciate it. What makes it great is that the students always make it work even if it’s not that great of an idea that I come up with. I had no idea how [the activity] was going to go, and it makes it fun, because I don’t know what to expect.”