Juniors: An Introduction to The Great Gatsby

After spending our first class period making strides on our Transcendentalism projects, students will begin their study of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic, The Great Gatsby. Each student will receive her own copy of this text. Our focus for this week will be familiarizing ourselves with the geography of the book and meeting the memorable characters created by Fitzgerald. In a close reading of the opening pages, we’ll meet the narrator, Nick Carraway, and consider how his use of language and choice of biographical details influences the reader’s perceptions of him. As we continue reading Chapter 1 aloud, students will be assigned a character (Daisy, Jordan, or Tom) to track through annotations. Their goal will be to consider how the character is indirectly characterized (speech, thoughts, effects on others, actions, looks). This work will lead to next week’s work: a character profile activity and a film comparison analysis.

One of our major goals of this unit is to consider how writers create voice. At the end of our study, students will be prompted to write an essay exploring their own perceptions of the American Dream. Students will strive to make their writing personal, developing their own voice in writing. In order to develop voice, students must consider the impact of word choice and grammar on creating a unique personality or style in writing. To assist us in this work, we will regularly study model sentences, many of which will come from The Great Gatsby. Students will first be asked to notice (How is the author using language? Grammar?), and then they will be asked to mimic the style. This work will also help them prepare for ACT grammar questions.

Parents, how can you help?

  • Is your child on track to submit his/her Transcendentalism project this week? Reminder: the due date is this Friday, February 19. (Students who are writing a journal will submit their journal March 1)
  • Encourage your child to engage with The Great Gatsby from the start. We’ll be working closely with this text for the rest of the quarter, so their comprehension and analysis is critical to their success. This week, we will be reading the first chapter in class; however, some students might still struggle with comprehension. Encourage your child to reread the chapter in order to strengthen comprehension and build fluency. Perhaps read along with your child. Students who reread can use these pages toward their readers workshop goal.
  • This week’s article of the week is an opinion piece from The Washington Post. In it, opinion writer Michael Gerson argues the danger of both political parties choosing to make villains out of groups of people in order to direct America’s economic anxiety. Whether or not you agree with Gerson’s assessment of today’s campaigns, spend some time talking with your child about it. As you encounter political advertisements, speeches, and debates in the coming months, help your child notice this political tactic and consider the effects and effectiveness.