Gatsby Chapter 1: The Evolution

29 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT analyze the development of elements in a piece of fiction and cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis.

Big Idea

Gatsby's "egg"-cellent adventure begins with a single green light.

Introduction: Anticipation Guide and Vocabulary

20 minutes

This lesson begins reading Chapter 1 of The Great Gatsby.  To prepare students for coming events, I pop up on the projector an anticipation guide to help students begin to see the connotative meanings in words.  I first ask students to note on a piece of paper what they believe is the connotative meaning associated with the words or questions in the anticipation guide.

The questions on the Anticipation Guide are related to significant inferences that students will make in the first chapter.  For example, question 1 asks students to determine the connotative meaning attached to the color white.  Daisy is often related to this color, which connotes a feeling of innocence or purity.  The irony is that she is neither. Question 2 refers to colors associated with wealth.  Of course, I want students to suggest green because the green light at the end of the Buchanan's dock is a significant symbol in the novel.   The buoy in question 3 is mentioned in chapter 1 to suggest how sedentary and relaxed Daisy and Jordan are in the Buchanan living room. The wedding cake reference in question 4 creates a fluffy, saccharine atmosphere.

After students have a chance to answer the anticipation guide individually, I randomly call on students to offer their answers in a whole-class discussion.  I also solicit other interpretations and reasons from the class.  (This segment dates back to the first lesson Art of Interpretation.)  My objective is for students to hear other interpretations other than their own.

Additionally, students are assigned one vocabulary word from a list of words for the first half of the novel.  The vocabulary list has words on one side and definitions and other information on the other.  Students will find their word in the novel as we read and determine the meaning through context.  If needed, I will instruct students to look up the word in the dictionary if further clarification is necessary.  As we come upon the selected vocabulary words in the first part of the novel, the student assigned to the word will offer his or her definition.   

To reinforce the meanings of words, I will instruct students to create flashcards of all words by writing the word and definition on one side of the flashcard.  They also include the connotative meaning of the word or what the word sounds like as related to its definition.  The also provide a synonym and antonym, and they use it in a sentence.  

On the other side of the flashcard, students create a graphic representation of the word's meaning.  This assignment is done for homework.  For the first 10 minutes of every class until the vocabulary test (given one week after distribution of vocabulary list), I will give students an opportunity to flip through their flashcards with a partner to reinforce definitions.  I chose the selected words based on those words that I thought students would have trouble with.  Some words are indicative of early twentieth century vocabulary: words such as rotogravure and rivulets.

Active Reading Reporters

30 minutes

Students will be assigned an active reading reporter role.  These roles consist of the following:

  • Setting Reporter:  Identifies three details about the setting and accompanies these details with text evidence.
  • Character Reporter:  Identifies three details about the characters mentioned in the chapter and chooses one quote per character which best captures the essence of the character.
  • Character Connections Reporter:  Identifies how each character connects to the other characters.  Identifies one quote per detail to support connections.
  • Symbols Reporter:  Identifies two symbols with accompanying text evidence.
  • Point of View Reporter:  Identifies specifically the narrative structure of the chapter/novel and identifies two quotes that indicate the point of view. 
  • Conflicts Reporter:  Identifies all conflicts in the first chapter:  man vs. man; man vs. society; man vs. self, etc.  Each example should have an accompanying quote.
  • Vocabulary/Unique Phrases Reporter:  Identifies and hypothesizes on unusual words or phrases in the chapter.

Each reporter will also be assigned to a group.  There will be one of each reporter role per group.  After the chapter is read, reporters will convene in their groups.  Each reporter will share their findings and group members will complete a handout where they add all the findings from each reporter.

Chapter may be read for homework or in class.

The significance in each role is directly related to the CCSS shift of "students engaging in rich and rigorous evidence based conversations about text."  Students are citing strong textual evidence to support their answers, and they are analyzing the development and relatable elements of a story.  This is being done both through written responses and through speaking and listening.

Wrap Up

10 minutes

Following the completion of the Active Reading worksheet, students analyze the narrator's portrayal of Gatsby at the end of chapter 1 and compare it to the first two pages of the novel. I use a short music video that I made to get them motivated and to introduce this assignment.

Students dig for specific words and phrases that are used to describe him in the first two pages of the novel; such as, "There was something gorgeous about him."  "Gatsby represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn." "An extraordinary gift for hope."  

Students then examine Gatsby's depiction at the end of Chapter 1 where he is described as emerging "from a shadow." "Silhouette of a moving cat."  "He had vanished."  

I ask students to write a response to the following questions:

  • How do the descriptions of Gatsy at the end of the chapter differ from the beginning of the chapter?  
  • What prediction can we make as to why Nick hates what Gatsby represents, but forgives him anyway?

Students write their answers as a prompt for a class discussion.  I will randomly call on students to read their answers.