Engage, Expand and Encompass through Technology

Macomb ISD's Universal Design for Learning Initiative

E3T Lesson Plan Creator   

The Great Gatsby and the American Dream

Last Updated: May-06-2010

View & Print Lesson Plan

Return to MISD Home | Return to E3T Home

Options - this lesson plan:

Options - other lesson plans:

Developed By

  Kelly Skokna

Lesson Title

  The Great Gatsby and the American Dream

Length of Lesson

  Approximately 2-3 days

Lesson Unit

  The American Dream






  Literature and Culture

Michigan Content Expectations

  CE 1.1.3, 1.2.2, 1.3.7, 1.4.4, 1.5.2, 1.5.4, 2.1.1, 2.3.3, 3.1.8


  American Dream, Social Mobility, The Great Gatsby



--Cartoon: Returning the American Dream

--3 Articles for Exploration:

"The Future of the American Dream"

"The Upside of Downward Mobility"

"The End of Upward Mobility?"

--Talking to the Text Rubric

--Chart: "Hidden Rules Among Social Classes"

--Rubric and Guidelines for Interview Assignment




This lesson plan is designed to follow High School Thematic Unit 12--The American Dream. It is intended as a unit opener to The Great Gatsby. This lesson takes approximately 2-3 days and culminates with the students' summative assessment: exploring the American Dream.


Big Idea(s)


American Dream

Social Mobility


Essential Questions


What is the American Dream?

How do we define social class and social mobility?

What defines a group?

Where do I fit in terms of social classes?

How will I achieve my American Dream?


Learning Objectives


Students will be able to:

--Define the American Dream

--Understand what the American Dream means to us today

--Recognize the role of social mobility

--Connect the idea of the American Dream to the Great Gatsby






Summative Assessment


Students will complete an interview of an older person in which they gain a greater understanding as to how the American Dream varies from person to person. Students may choose the way they present their interview: PowerPoint, Podcast, MovieMaker, etc.

Resource(s) available for this section

Lesson Opening


Students will read and interpret a cartoon. In their journals, they will respond to the following:

1. How would you define the American Dream?

2. Why do you believe the people pictured would like to return their dream?

3. What do you see as being your American Dream?

4. What role does social class play into the American Dream? What social class do you believe you belong to?


As an alternative, students may explore the website http://www.pbs.org/peoplelikeus/ . This website has stories (which could also be used as examples leading up to interviews), games, and other resources that engage students in the issues of social mobility, class, and the American Dream.

Resource(s) available for this section



Students will read, using talking to the text as a strategy, one of the following texts:

"The End of Upward Mobility?" "The Upside of Downward Mobility" or "The Future of the American Dream". These articles can be assigned to students based on reading ability or students can self-select. In addition, as an alternative, articles can be provided to students online, through tools like Blackboard. Two of the articles: "The End of Upward Mobility?" and "The Upside of Downward Mobility" provide a listening option.

Before beginning, the rubric and/or strategies for talking to the text may need to be reviewed.

When finished, students will be grouped together based upon the article they read. Students will be expected to answer the following questions: What was the thesis of the article? What support for this thesis was given in the article? How does this influence your beliefs on either what you thought the American Dream to be or on your American Dream specifically?

Group discussions will be shared with the class. As an alternative, if Blackboard is used, discussions could be posted to the discussion board.


Resource(s) available for this section

Check for Understanding


Groups will share their responses to the questions with the class. The teacher will then begin to assess the students' understanding based upon their discussions.




When finished, students will then be asked to revisit their journal and add any new thoughts to what they had previously written. Students will be given the opportunity to share these thoughts with the class.


Extended Practice


Students will read Ruby Payne's "Hidden Rules Among Classes" chart, provided by the MISD. As students read through the chart, they will be asked to see where they fit in terms of Payne's definition. Does this fit with what students recorded in their journals? This can serve as the opening discussion for the following day, and the teacher could assess students based upon their responses.

Resource(s) available for this section



Teacher will make connection to The Great Gatsby and how it ties into the American Dream.