Chapter 3: The Amusement Park

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SWBAT determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and mood.

Big Idea

Empty gestures: Mood rings in reality


This lesson serves as a recap of the previous day's lesson.  Specifically, I will ask students to analyze the importance of specific quotes and determine which symbols belong with which characters in the character notebook. I will pay special attention to the symbols in this chapter such as the valley of the ashes and the eyes of TJ Eckleburg, prompting students to notice the religious symbolism.  For example, the valley of the ashes resembles a perverse Garden of Eden and the eyes of TJ Eckleburg are similar to a God-like power overseeing the illicit activity in the valley.

In reading chapter 3, we will focus on the deteriorating mood of Gatsby's parties.  This is a microcosm of a recurrent theme in the novel where we start on a euphoric high and then end in a disastrous dive.  Essentially, the entire novel is this way.  Chapter 1 opens with Nick's hopes for his version of the American Dream, and then the novel takes a slow decent into the pathetic conclusion of Gatsby's demise.  I will entice students to pay close attention to the partygoers' attitudes toward Gatsby and the circulating rumors that he inspires. 


Daily Language Practice

10 minutes

In this short section of the lesson, we do some grammatical review.  I call it the Daily Language Practice.  I put two sentences with grammatical mistakes on the projector or overhead.  The class writes the sentences on paper.  I then solicit the class to volunteer which errors they see.  This is a great activity to begin class.  It allows for a smooth segue to English class, and it offers a great review of grammar for the SATs.

SAT Question of the Day

10 minutes

To continue with SAT prep as I am encouraged by my department head, I consult with College Board to pull up the SAT Question of the Day.  I put the question on the overhead and as a whole-class discussion we look at clues within the questions to lead us to the correct answer.  We also discuss why the answer is correct.  Lastly, we look for strategies to help students find the correct answers.  The link below will lead to the question of the day.  It changes daily and it is sometimes math.  If the question is not ELA, I will go to a weekend date and search for an ELA question.

Gatsby Vocabulary Review

10 minutes

In a continuation of vocabulary development, students who were assigned the words "omnibus," "affectations," "convivial," and "coquettishly" will offer definitions of these words in the context of Chapter 3.  They will also create a flashcard to reinforce the meanings of words.  Again, students will create flashcards of 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.  This assignment is done piecemeal as we come upon the words in the text.  By the first part of the book, students will have been exposed to the vocabulary list and definitions through context.

Character Notebook: Review Chapter 2

15 minutes

In this section, my goal is to model some of the use of text I would like students to master by the end of the novel.  I use a PowerPoint to review significant quotes/text that lends insight into the characters.  I ask students to write the information in their character notebooks and note what the information reveals about the characters.  I also ask them to come up with other quotes that they can add to mine. 

The biggest challenge that students encounter is determining the meaning of symbols.  The first symbol is the valley of the ashes.  I ask students to read the description in the beginning of chapter 2.  I ask them to extract key or unusual words or phrasing.  They usually come up with "grotesque gardens," "desolate area," "rising smoke,"and "small foul river."  I ask students to look at these words outside of the context of the chapter or The Great Gatsby.  I ask them what the description reminds them of, and the most common answer is hell.  I then ask why a garden is included in the description. Students respond that the valley of the ashes is the opposite of the Garden of Eden, and then we begin a whole-class discussion into the differences:  valley of the ashes is barren, not plush like the Garden of Eden;evil grows in the valley while the Garden of Eden remains a bucholic paradise.

Active Reading Reporters: Chapter 3

15 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.

As students are reading, I am circulating through the groups to ensure that students are on task and to answer questions.


If class time is not enough, I will assign students to finish reading the chapter for homework and complete the attached mood worksheet to trace the deteriorating mood of Gatsby's party.  My goal is for students to notice the word choice in the beginning of the chapter and note how it changes by the end.  For example, people are "conducting themselves according to behavior associated with amusement parks," but by the end of the chapter, "women are fighting with men thought to be their husbands."  Students will be able to extract phrasing and determine that the mood descends rather rapidly in Chapter 3.  I also play the attached video to display the differences between tone and mood.