5 Tips for Teaching The Great Gatsby

Hello there fellow ELA teacher! You're probably reading this because at some point during the school year, you'll find yourself teaching F. Scott Fitzgerald's beautifully written novel, The Great Gatsby.  I'll be honest with you, this is my all-time favorite novel to teach.  My students tend to begin the novel thinking they will despise the book, but by the end, they are begging for more.  The tips below have helped my achieve high engagement levels while reading The Great Gatsby with my students.
The Roaring Twenties are significantly different from today, and our students may not fully realize that.  If we expect teenagers to get as excited as we do about Gatsby, we'll need to show them the lifestyle represented in the novel.  You can do this several different ways. Start with music.  Go to Pandora, type "Early Jazz" into the search engine, and your classroom will be consumed by the soothing work of Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday.  Then, show your students the tremendous fashion of flappers and gangsters from the 20's.  Prompt a discussion with this question: "What do you think people from the 1920's would say about fashion today?" and you're sure to get some great responses.  Lastly, discuss roles of men and women during the time period.  It's important that they understand the different movements that took place during the Jazz Age, especially for women.  TIP: use bell ringers with graphics that represent the themes of the time period.  You can find mine here.

This is so important! Often times, my students found themselves lost in Fitzgerald's complex language. Compare the intense drama that occurs in The Great Gatsby to reality television shows, music, ideas, or actual events that are happening in "their" world.  Using this technique will help students connect with the characters in the novel, and appreciate their hardships a bit more.  Common themes throughout the novel that absolutely still exist in today's society are: jealousy, class, relationships, gender roles, morality, lies & deceit.

This unit is the cat's meow! Would your students look at you like you were crazy? Yeah, mine too.  That's what makes it so fun, though!  Last year, I required my students to use 1920's slang for the entire unit.  If they said, "that's cool" I would ask them to rephrase that.  It was fun to watch students get into the role of the characters.  In addition, this helps further create the atmosphere in your classroom.  You can find slang from the roaring twenties by clicking this link.  BONUS: create bell ringers with common slang as reference piece!
I know, I know, you're thinking "I don't have time for that" but it is totally an essential piece and technically, you only have to do it once.  Make a goal to complete the projects you do alongside reading The Great Gatsby WITH your students.  Showing them the effort YOU put into the project will create high expectations and in return, you will receive quality final projects.  I like to challenge my students by saying, "I want someone to out-do me" and students LOVE the competitive edge.  Once you've created the project the first time, you don't have to continue making it.  Use that project the following years, too! Throughout the years, I've created a variety of 1920's themed newspapers, scrapbooks, poetry journals, and more.

If you're thinking to yourself, "I wish I had all of the resources needed to teach The Great Gatsby in a fun, beautifully designed interactive notebook" then I have the unit for you! I've created this comprehensive unit in an interactive workbook format to keep students focused and organized throughout the novel study.  Seriously, it's ALL here-- anything you can think of!  It has an internet scavenger hunt, bell ringers, vocabulary charts, comprehension questions, figurative language resources, literary elements resources, final projects, essays, tests, and more.  If you want your students to truly appreciate Fitzgerald's work, this is the best avenue.  To learn more about the workbook, click here or on any of the pictures in this blog post.  OH, and the best part?  It's also an adult coloring book with 1920's fashion displayed throughout the workbook!

Thank you so much for reading and I hope your students enjoy reading The Great Gatsby as much as mine do! Stay tuned for more fun-filled blog posts with tips and tricks for novel studies!

Brittany-- The SuperHERO Teacher


  1. Reading Makes Your Child Smarter

    Reading is known to have numerous benefits. It increases your world knowledge, enhances your vocabulary, and works to improve your reading comprehension abilities.

    But did you know that reading can actually make you smarter?

    In fact, reading not only can make a child smarter, the very act of reading can even help to compensate for modest levels of cognitive ability in children by building their vocabulary and general knowledge! This is a finding reported by researchers Cunningham and Stanovich in a report titled "What Reading Does For the Mind".

    The simple fact here is that reading can make your child smarter, and that learning to read early on is directly linked to later success in life.

    1) Did you know that your child's vocabulary at 3 years old predicts his or her grade one reading success? [1]

    2) Did you know that vocabulary and reading ability in first grade strongly predicts grade 11 outcomes? [2]

    3) Did you know that your child's reading skill in grade 3 directly influences high school graduation? Studies have found that children who cannot read proficiently by grade 3 are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma than proficient readers! [3]

    >> Give your child the best possible head start. Teach your child to read today. Click here to learn how.

    But how do you teach a young child to read, and isn't that the job of the school and teachers?

    You can't be more wrong...

    With the right tools, knowledge, and techniques, teaching young children to read can be a simple and effective process. I'd like to introduce you to a fantastic reading program called Children Learning Reading, a super effective method for teaching children to read - even children as young as just 2 or 3 years old.

    The creators of this program have used it to teach their four children to read before age 3, and by reading, I mean real, phonetic reading.

    I can understand if you find that hard to believe... In fact, I had a difficult time believing it myself as well... that is, until I saw the videos they posted documenting the reading progress of the their children - not to mention all the videos other parents have sent in showcasing their children's reading progress after using the Children Learning Program. After learning more about their methods and techniques, it became clear how it's possible to teach young children to read effectively.

    It is truly within your ability to teach your child to read in a relatively short period of time spending just 10 to 15 minutes each day.

    >> Click here now to watch the videos and start teaching your child to read.

    1. Vocabulary Development and Instruction: A Prerequisite for School Learning
    Andrew Biemiller, University of Toronto

    2. Early reading acquisition and its relation to reading experience and ability 10 years later.
    Cunningham AE, Stanovich KE.

    3. Double Jeopardy How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation
    Donald J. Hernandez, Hunter College and the Graduate Center,

  2. Hello Blogger,
    Luxury Golden Triangle Tour package is specially designed tour package by Delhi Agra Jaipur Yatra which is connecting three famous heritage cities of India that are nation's capitral Delhi, city of love - Agra and Pink city Jaipur. If you are planning a tour or visiting first time to India for exploring incredible India then these cities are must visit destinations. In luxury Golden Triangle Tour your stay in the best hotels of every city. Hotels include are Oberoi, Leela, Taj, 5 star hotels and other heritage hotelsat best price in the market. Car rental services are also available for exploring the cities of Golden Triangle Tour with Udaipur, Golden Triangle Tour With Ranthambore and other famous cities. If you want to add some more places in your trip, you can Customize Your Tour also. So plan your vacations with Delhi Agra Jaipur Yatra which make your trip more comfortable and hassle free tour.
    India Trip Designer


Back to Top