The Jazz Age Journal
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is such a multilayered and evergreen text! I’ve read it myriad times, and — I’m sure you can relate — I discover a new idea or noticing every time I revisit it. It’s no wonder that this book is such a popular read for American Literature classrooms.
And yes, I can foresee the day when this novel may be challenged for its lack of diversity, its chauvinism, and its other problematic themes. I have a feeling, however, that this novel will fare well in those discussions. After all, literature is a record of history and Fitzgerald captured the mood and morés of 1920s America faithfully.
There’s so much Gatsby-ness in Gatsby! With that observation, I guess I’m really acknowledging JUST HOW MUCH is in this book. Sure, there are the plot and storyline, there are the literary allusions, there’s the vocabulary, and of course, since it’s Fitzgerald, there are those absolutely beautiful sentences.
Beyond comprehension questions and locating textual evidence, how do we help students keep up with everything? That was my quandary last fall when I started my Gatsby unit in December. (Yes, December. More on that seemingly weird timing in a later post. It worked out well, btw.)
So I made a “reader’s guide, so to speak, and it worked well to help students grasp all the goodness out of The Great Gatsby. My version from last fall looked like this:
Anyway, I’ve just re-designed this resource and I hope you like the changes I’ve made to give students a more comprehensive experience of The Great Gatsby.
Scroll through the slideshow below to see the cover page, the Jazz Age Journal pages for chapters 1-6, and one page of the key. Obviously, there are pages for chapter 7-9, plus another page of the key and a teacher direction sheet.
During reading and after reading
I designed this resource to help students have a better reading experience DURING the book and AFTER as well. The info they record as they read will help them understand the book in the moment, and will also come in handy for your end-of-unit project. Whether you assign hexagonal thinking maps, beautiful sentence projects, TQE discussion assessments, or traditional literary analyses, these pages will help students remember the details of the book for the necessary later projects you assign.
As for grading…
I mainly checked my students’ pages for completion and effort. Here’s how I “graded” these: I made each journal page worth sixteen points. Here’s how that broke down:
- comprehension questions: 4 pts
- main events of chapter: 3 pts
- TQE (students wrote down one, i.e. either a T, a Q, or an E): 3 pts
- vocabulary word: 2 pts
- beautiful sentence: 2 pts
- important quote: 2 pts
Overall, my Jazz Age Journal was a good accountability tool that helped students progress through the book efficiently.
Here’s how it works
The Jazz Age Journal includes one page for each chapter. There are boxed areas on each page for students to fill out as they read or listen to the text.
These boxed areas have students record:
- the main events of the chapter (to help kids remember what happens to whom and when)
- a new vocabulary word (If my kids wrote small, they were able to write a brief definition as well.)
- a thought, question, or an epiphany (I asked students to just record one of these per journal page. Also, these were handy for getting whole class or group discussions going!)
- a beautiful sentence (After all, it IS Fitzgerald!)
- an important or especially significant quote and its page number (so students can easily locate it if needed for a later culminating activity)
Each page also contains the following:
- five comprehension questions. I asked my students to write their answers on the back of the sheet.
- three to four illustrations or photos that connect to the chapter. I have intentionally left these without captions so students ponder the connection. Some of them are really obvious (the man with “owl eyes”), but there are some that aren’t (Queensboro Bridge from chapter 4 or Radcliffe Camera from Oxford University, etc). I hope these images spur questions from your students for further research and/or discussion.
Final notes about how I used this
After grading and returning the pages to students, I asked them to keep them until we were finished with the book, so they could utilize them to better recall various parts of the novel as they worked on their culminating projects, which this year were hexagonal thinking maps. Read about my first go at hexagonal thinking and The Great Gatsby here.
Eventually, I may try beautiful sentence projects and if that’s the case, these journal pages will be ready to go with one beautiful sentence recorded from each chapter.
I really hope you enjoy this resource!
Please let me know how it goes! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me by leaving a reply below or on my Contact page or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, check out my gradually growing shop on this website. There are just a handful of resources on it right now, but check back for more soon.
You will also notice that my site is easier to navigate than in the past. For example, if you click on the blog menu at the top of this page, you will see posts arranged by category. For more Gatsby posts and ideas, drop down to find a page that features all my Gatsby-related posts or click on the The Great Gatsby box below. Have a great July!
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The Great Gatsby 2013 Film Chapter Breakdown updated Jan. 2022