First year English teacher needing help with lesson plans for 11th grade AP on The Great GatsbyHELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I just recently took over a position in the middle of the year and I'm still new...

First year English teacher needing help with lesson plans for 11th grade AP on The Great Gatsby

HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I just recently took over a position in the middle of the year and I'm still new to this. I have an 11th grade AP class that is reading "The Great Gatsby" and I am having trouble finding challenging lessons for this group.  Is there anyone out there that can help me please?

Asked on by lwelch1999

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I second that enotes resources are invaluable.  They will save your life.  I would also try Socratic Seminar class discussions, and possibly dialectical journals.  One thing that I would focus on with enotes is the historical background and essential passages resources.  I recently discovered these, and they are fabulous, especially if you are not as familiar with the books.

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charcunning | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted on

Are you teaching AP English Language or AP English Literature? There are groups on here devoted to both of those, so you may find some excellent resources there.

I teach English Language, so I tend to focus on rhetorical devices that Fitzgerald uses as well as his unique sentence structures.

My students LOVE to focus on the variety of themes presented in this novel and connect them to modern day issues.

One big issue that we spend an entire class period on is "Is Nick a reliable narrator" and "Can we, the readers, trust what Nick is telling us?". 

Think of the variety of ethical and moral issues--adultery, cheating in sports, organized crime, illegal activities, murder, domestic violence--have students explore these topics on their own.

Also, if you are teaching AP Language, one of the essays on the test (May 13th!!) is argumentative, so you can choose an issue from the book and have them do timed essays or take-home essays on it.

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ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I teach AP Lit and really like the Prestwick AP Teaching Unit you can download at enotes. In addition to in depth questions, it also has sample AP-type multiple choice questions and practice AP-type essay prompts. You can download it at :

 http://www.enotes.com/great-gatsby-prestwick-aptu/ 

In addition, Prestwick House also publishes a book with other stories and poems about the American Dream for students to compare and contrast. You can see it at www.prestwickhouse.com.

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dbello | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

Enotes is an excellent source for lesson plans, tests, etc. However, if you really want to get into 'The Great Gatsby' it requires you to understand the American mindset in the 1920's. I am a history teacher that believes no matter how fantastic the story, an author cannot completely remove themself from their reality. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote 'The Great Gatsby' as fiction, however know the history of the 20's and you discover the 'truth' in his fiction. For example, Fitzgerald saw the 'tug of war' between 'old money' and 'new money'. On the surface this seems harmless enough, however the history reveals the not so nice reality. Fitzgerald questioned the 'materialism' of humanity during the 1920's in the most unassuming way....he created a soul uncorrupted in Nick Carraway. What Fitzgerald is asking is...what side are YOU on??????

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

One successful lesson from my Gatsby unit has always been the lesson on consumerism:  how it exists within the novel and how it exists today.  My students, no matter what their level, usually have field day with the comparisons.

Yet another successful lesson is our discussion about fads:  the fads that exist within the novel and the fads that exist today.  Again, the students usually "go to town" with the wackyness.

However, some of my best experiences with AP classes have been on the day (similar to the one discussed in the first answer) when I encourage my students to dress in the style of the roaring twenties.  My profile picture is from one of those days.  (I always dress up as well.)  Be prepared to teach them the Charleston to authentic music from the era.  Revel in the true "roaring" twenties with your students.  You will share a lesson that they will always remember and teach them more than ever before.

mshurn's profile pic

Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

First year English teacher needing help with lesson plans for 11th grade AP on The Great Gatsby

HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I just recently took over a position in the middle of the year and I'm still new to this. I have an 11th grade AP class that is reading "The Great Gatsby" and I am having trouble finding challenging lessons for this group.  Is there anyone out there that can help me please?

I posted a document this week on Beowulf Role Playing. With some adjustments, it would work for Gatsby, too. In fact, it would work for any novel or play. My AP students always liked this activity because they got to work in teams and be creative so long as they didn't alter the facts. I was always amazed at what they came up with after putting their heads together. Besides being enjoyable for them, students really have to do their internal research to do a good job on this activity. They can't make it up as they go along and expect to get a good grade.

Something else I used to do in AP English was to designate a day as "Why? Day" The kids loved this because once we got started, all I could say was why? I would kick it off with a question. The object was to keep a discussion going for as long as possible. I never knew where we would end up, but I was usually surprised at what would come out in the discussion--a good review of the literature and some critical thinking, too.

Here's an example of one discussion, as I recall it. It wasn't one of our best, but it's the one I can remember right now.

Why did Gatsby buy such a huge, expensive mansion?

He wanted to impress Daisy . . . Why?

He wanted to get her back . . . Why?

He loved her . . . Why?

She was everything he had ever wanted . . . Why?

Because she was rich and he had been born poor . . . Why?

His parents were poor . . . Why?

Because they had this farm in North Dakota and his dad was lazy

Why?

Because he didn't want more than he had . . . Why?

Because he didn't have any dreams, I guess . . . Why?

Some people don't have dreams . . . Why?

Because sometimes they don't come true . . . Why?

Because some people don't work hard to make them come true like Gatsby did . . .  And then we were on to talking about Gatsby's dreams until we ran out of steam. One day we kept a "why" discussion going for 30 minutes. We were proud!

This may seem like a silly game, but it really isn't. Sometimes there are some pretty long pauses between "why?" and a response. Lots of thinking going on, and I won't help them do their thinking. Hey, all I can say is "Why?"  Good luck with your students!

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

My experiences with the enotes Lesson Plans, Quizzes, and Tests have been very positive, so my first recommendation is to obtain these.  They are well worth any expense. 

Also, "The Great Gatsby" discussion board and Question and Answer section on this site have some interesting questions that you can use for discussion/essays. 

Relax.  With an AP class, the students will contribute some ideas of their own to the discussions that will spark ideas for you, too.  At the high school I taught, the AP 11 had a "Gatsby Day" in which they dressed in the 1920 style.  The students assumed the roles of the characters and a "party" was staged at which the students spoke in character.  The actors loved doing this, and the "guests" delighted in their acting.  Years later, some of these students returned and mentioned how much fun they had had on the "Gatsby Day."  They still have the photos of this day!

Give your AP students outlets for their good minds and creative spirits--they will reward you and develop in the process.

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wendell | Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Enotes is an excellent source for lesson plans, tests, etc. However, if you really want to get into 'The Great Gatsby' it requires you to understand the American mindset in the 1920's. I am a history teacher that believes no matter how fantastic the story, an author cannot completely remove themself from their reality. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote 'The Great Gatsby' as fiction, however know the history of the 20's and you discover the 'truth' in his fiction. For example, Fitzgerald saw the 'tug of war' between 'old money' and 'new money'. On the surface this seems harmless enough, however the history reveals the not so nice reality. Fitzgerald questioned the 'materialism' of humanity during the 1920's in the most unassuming way....he created a soul uncorrupted in Nick Carraway. What Fitzgerald is asking is...what side are YOU on??????

I agree with you about knowing the history in context.  Do you have any suggestions for a resource for helping students and/or their teachers get an grasp?  I teach at an international school so most of my students do not know American culture well--even the American students may not have lived in the states for many years.  Without overwhelming them, where might I suggest they look?

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