The Great Gatsby Unit Plan

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

If you are teaching 'The Great Gatsby,' it can be really helpful to have a starting point for what your unit might look like. This lesson offers you an outline you can fill out based on your own hopes and your students' needs.

Teaching The Great Gatsby

Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is often thought of as one of the great American novels and offers many insights into American society, history and culture. The novel deals with themes like the American dream, the superficiality of the upper classes, and gender equity and relations. If you are teaching this novel to your students, you can use it as a gateway to talking about what makes America unique, or you can use it to describe class consciousness. The novel also provides excellent examples of character development, and you can do important work around motivation and personality. Finally, Fitzgerald's unique writing style and poetic language might be something to focus on with your class. Whatever you hope to get out of the study, it can be helpful to work with a unit plan that organizes your instruction and timing. The unit plan outlined in this lesson aims to teach The Great Gatsby over the course of four weeks. Of course, you can modify this plan according to your own instructional goals as well as your students' needs.

The Great Gatsby Unit Plan

Week One

For the first few days of week one, consider doing some pre-reading activities with your students. This might include investigations into the Roaring Twenties or previews of some of the major vocabulary in the novel. You can also have students research Fitzgerald's life or write what they think the American dream is and what they associate it with when encountering that concept.

Midway through week one, introduce your students to the novel. Have them read the first three chapters. As they read, begin a class-wide character map. Use the map to keep track of the novel's major characters and the personality traits that stand out the most, as well as the way the characters are connected with one another.

Week Two

During week two, have your students plan to read chapters 4 through 7. While some of these chapters can be read or at least completed as homework, it might be helpful to have students read some of them aloud in class. In these chapters, Fitzgerald really explicates his setting. Make sure your students are envisioning the setting and developing a sense of how the setting's details are intertwined with themes of socioeconomics and Americanism. You might consider having your students sketch or make models of some of the novels scenes.

Ask your students to revisit last week's writing on the American dream, and discuss this concept as it relates to the novel so far. Make sure that your students understand Gatsby's own dreams and the ways they both are and are not coming to fruition under Fitzgerald's rendering.

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