Juniors enrolled in Molly Gotwals’ English III class were recently tasked with a grand assignment to conclude their study of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
Set in the 1920s Prohibition-era of America during the Jazz Age on Long Island, Fitzgerald’s novel romanticizes themes of social class, inherited wealth, and the American Dream. News is profoundly interpreted and highly manipulated as drama unfolds between the elite and working classes. To finalize their understanding of the novel and its themes Gotwals asked students to create their own newspapers telling the story of Gatsby. Each paper was to be historically accurate regarding dates, ads, and photos and include five articles based on events in the novel: one News, one Editorial, one Features, one Lifestyle, one Sports.
While assessing students’ work Gotwals noted, “Students had the opportunity to present their understanding of the novel’s themes through a creative lens. Individuals enjoyed using this format to present their fundamental comprehension and try their hands at the nuances of different styles of journalistic writing.”
“I really enjoyed the creative aspect of the project,” said Jonah Ball from Amagansett, New York. “The weekly submissions of individual articles helped me to manage my time and ensure I handed in my best writing. I was super engaged in this book and excited to read a chapter each night as homework. My biggest takeaway from reading The Great Gatsby is that you cannot recreate the past; you can only make your future.”
A day student from Suffield, Cole Vandevanter added, “This project spoke to me in a way that an essay or book report could not. It offered me an opportunity to present my understanding of the novel while still exercising a lot of creative freedom. I was able to connect things I enjoy outside of school such as cars and sports and examine them through a 1920s lens. Working with these familiar concepts within the context of the novel helped me to internalize its themes much easier.”
Designed as a survey of American literature, English III aims to further develop analytical writing and close-reading skills by exploring a constellation of American authors who helped fashion American culture and illuminate the ideas of Romanticism, Realism, and Modernism. From start to finish, Suffield’s English curriculum seeks to inspire its students as better readers, writers, and thinkers.