Get 'Em Moving by Blocking Out Chapter 4 of Great Gatsby

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SWBAT translate dialogue-rich text from The Great Gatsy into a blocked, "staged" performance directed by fellow students to improve comprehension and visualization techniques.

Big Idea

You haven't lived as an ELA teacher until you've watched students latch on to the role of Meyer Wolfshiem...luxuriating nosehairs and all!


15 minutes

Today we'll start out with our routine reading quiz.  Students were to read the rest of Chapter 3 and through page 68 of Chapter 4 in The Great Gatsby for homework, so the quiz in Socrative (that you can download through that platform using SOC#9840353 or access in the Resources section of this lesson) will cover that material in a multiple-choice format.  When students complete the quiz, they should look back over their reading assignment and gather any questions they had or reactions to the text that they would like to focus on for today's discussion.

Building Knowledge

20 minutes

After our quiz, we will go over student questions and the quiz questions.  Then, if there are any points remaining on the Chapter 3 Discussion questions that were not covered in student-initiated discussion, I will facilitate a discussion on those questions.  Building the knowledge base and background early in the novel will be key to making sense of the end of it.  Furthermore, I will ask students to share some of the items on their visual character maps since our last class period to ensure that students are actively working on these documents while reading.


35 minutes

Next, we will pick up reading Chapter 4 (on the bottom of page 68) of The Great Gatsby.  This period we will add some excitement to our hour by not only reading this section of the text out loud, but also adding in an acting element!  Students will pick characters to voice and act out, and those students will move to the front of the room to read and act out the dialogue sections of the text.  All students that are NOT actors will be expressively reading Nick's narration.  He's a tricky character to work into this format, as he doesn't really say all that much in most instances, but since he's ALWAYS present in the novel, his character will ALWAYS be present on "stage," even if there are no speaking lines.  Whoever acts for his character should still be engaged with Nick-like behaviors.  

As an added component to increase comprehension and make this activity more collaborative, actors on "stage" will take acting and blocking suggestions from the audience to make sure the text's intentions are carried out faithfully.  Once students start this process, they really get into it!  I like to start with the full-on blocking with this scene because Wolfshiem's character already contains dialect and is extremely entertaining to act out.  His character in the opening of this section allows students to "up their game" and make this really entertaining and informative.

In this amount of time, we should get through the section of text which ends just before Jordan's monologue, which explains Daisy's relationship with Gatsby.  I try to stop for minimal questioning during reading, but the questions that I will ask to make sure students are on track are attached in the Resources section.


20 minutes

To look at the last section of this chapter, we'll recruit a little help from our old friend YouTube!  I found a fabulous student project that turns Jordan's monologue (with very minor changes) into a short student-created film, so we will watch this portion rather than read it.  We will only be watching the first 5:15 of this video, as the end of the clip is a blooper real that really isn't relevant.

Following the clip, we'll work backwards and check out the one scene that they missed from her story, which relates the story of Tom & Daisy's honeymoon (from the end of page 83 through the top of page 84).  I will read this section aloud for the class, then we will discuss what "bombshells" were uncovered with this monologue.  I will also ask students to explain why Fitzgerald had to drastically change this section of the novel's format, as the rest of the book was written entirely from Nick's perspective.  They will point out that this is the only scene that gives us information outside of Nick's knowledge.  

Finally, if time permits, we will finish reading Chapter 4 in the modified popcorn format.  In this section, I feel the most important thing to cover is the final paragraph where Nick kisses Jordan (not out of love, but because he was jealous that he didn't have someone to "haunt" him like Tom and Gatsby).  Students ALWAYS argue that he does this because he realizes that he likes Jordan, but after forcing them to go back to the text, phrases like "the girl beside me" and "wan, scornful mouth" give away his general disregard for who she is at all--he just wants to have someone, at least temporarily.   "Wan" is usually a new word for them, so we will look that word up as we get to it.  

For homework, students need to complete character maps based on our discussion today for Chapter 4 and read (with character maps) Chapter 5.

Next Steps

After this class period, I will review the quiz results from today to see which students did not closely read the material and which students did not listen in class last class period.  If students scored poorly on these assessments two days in a row, I will reach out to them via email to offer my assistance in an Extra Help session before or after school.  Furthermore, if this continues into next class period, I will begin outreach to parents to alert them to the difficulty their child is having with reading these assignments or paying attention in class.