Today our class period started off with a friendly ACT-related visit form our guidance counselor, so we're working on a shortened schedule! We will start off as usual by taking a quiz in Socrative over Chapter 4 & 5 of The Great Gatsby. Since we read all of Chapter 4 in class last time (and discussed it), this quiz should be a slam dunk for all students! If I notice that students are missing questions that we explicitly discussed last class period, I will speak to this students to try to ascertain the reason, but by now most students are catching on to the idea that they need to both listen in class and thoughtfully read the homework assignments. A copy of this quiz is contained in the Resources section, or you can download it into your Socrative account using SOC#9826197. Please be aware that there is a short answer this time, so you'll need to go in and grade that yourself. Socrative will not accurately do this for you.
When students complete their reading quiz, they will need to work with their seating partners (I choose the seating chart and they are in "pods" of 3 desks) to evaluate their progress on their visual character maps so far. Since Chapter 5 was really only dealing with Gatsby, Nick, and Daisy, each student in the group will choose a character on which to be the "authority" for this section. They will take approximately 10 minutes to review Chapter 5 and the information they wrote down about their chosen character, then they will present that information to their small group. Other students in the group can update their own character maps during these presentation, and I will encourage them to question their peers if they hear a characteristic that they do not agree with or that seems unsupported by evidence. This is a fabulous way to make sure all students are making progress on these logs (and force them to work on them if they haven't already!), and it will also help to inform our conversation about Chapter 5's major revelations.
Each student's presentation should only take about 2 minutes, so after their share-outs, we will meet as a whole group once again. I will ask each group to share with the whole class the most important or most significant findings of their small group before we move on to discussion. This will be yet another opportunity for students to engage with their peers, ask questions, and probe responses for more information.
After our small group sharing, we will move on to discuss the highlights of Chapter 5. Since we will be dealing with a time constraint, I will format the discussion in a typical Q&A setup, with me asking the questions and students answering them. The questions I will use are attached in the Resources section.
Finally, we will take a look at the present-day condition of the inspiration behind Gatsby's mansion, which was so thoroughly described in this chapter. Unfortunately, it was torn down in 2012 (I recall being so depressed that day!), but the story of the home itself makes a great segue for talking about the realities of the American Dream, which is obviously a major theme of this book.
Before watching the video, I will let students know that what they are about to watch will discuss the inspiration behind Gatsby's fictional mansion, how it came to inspire Fitzgerald, and how the house itself was part of a group of homes that came to symbolize America and the American Dream in action during the 1920's. While we watch, I will ask them to take notes over the clip, focusing on:
When the movie is finished, students will have 2 minutes to review their notes to discuss the following questions:
When we conclude our discussion, students will be given whatever time is remaining to continue reading and working on character maps for tonight's reading assignment, which will be all of Chapter 6 and part of Chapter 7 (through page 133 when they leave the gas station).
Next time we will have a quiz over Chapters 6 & the assigned section of Chapter 7, and we will also return to acting out the novel. At this point we are rapidly nearing the Prairie State Achievement Exam, so I am trying to cut down on the written work I am assigning students outside of class to allow them the time they desire to attend our school's ACT Prep classes. I am continuing to assign reading homework, however, because by now students have gotten into the book and I know they will take the time to complete the homework. If I see their interest level starting to fade, I usually toss in some cliff-hanging comment before they leave the classroom like, "Ooo, I can't wait for you to read tonight's chapter. You're going to FLIP OUT when you see Daisy burn Tom at this party!" or "Tonight's chapter starts the downward slope of the literary rollercoaster...but you CAN'T read farther than page 133. Fight the urge. I'll be mad if you do! You'll ruin everything." These gentle nudges toward reading have actually been pretty effective for this particular novel, which I famously describe as Jerry Springer of the Twenties. What kid doesn't want a reason to read about rich people, violence, drunken debauchery, love triangles, organized crime, and bootlegging? 'Nuff said.