Gatsby Characterization: Fact vs. Fiction

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SWBAT analyze the development of Gatsby by determining the validity of character details.

Big Idea

Will the real Jay Gatsby please stand up?


Following the standard class openings and a review of Chapter 3, I lead students in reading Chapter 4 of The Great Gatsby, paying special attention to the types of people Gatsby associates with and the inconsistencies in his self-described background.   I later instruct students to list and categorize rumors and factual information about Gatsby and decide which pieces of information are genuine.


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 from chapters 1-3 will present them to the class as a review.  Students have created a flashcard to reinforce the meanings of words.  Again, students created 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.

I find that students do little studying at home; the repetition of vocabulary development is quite helpful in aiding students.

Character Notebook: Review Chapter 3

15 minutes

To make use of text evidence and allow students a chance to extract character details from Chapter 3, I ask students to find interesting quotes pertaining to Gatsby that may shed some light on his character.  Students have been instructed to write this evidence in their character notebook.  I reinforce important quotations in the attached PowerPoint once students have had a chance to input their evidence.  Most often, students notice that Gatsby begins "choosing his words with care," which indicates that he may not be what he seems.  We also look at Nick's observation that he is the only honest person he knows.  I ask students to comment on why he would think that.  Students almost always note that Jordan Baker is a cheater at golf and perhaps that fact coupled with Gatsby and the rumors circulating about him lead Nick to that conclusion.

Gatsby: Fact vs. Fiction

15 minutes

Students work with a partner as they consider all the rumors and gossip learned about Gatsby thus far in the novel.  Students categorize this information into three columns: fact, fiction, and not sure.  Students use inferencing skills to decipher which information is factual and which information is fiction.  I then ask students to consider why Fitzgerald creates the character of Jay Gatsby shrouded in this level of rumor.  Students often draw the conclusion that Fitzgerald wanted Gatsby to be this mysterious, obscure character who is the object of everyone's inquiry. This assignment aligns with RL 11-12 3 as students discuss the impact of the author's choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama.