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Understanding by Design

Curriculum Template
Unit Name: The American Dream


Grade: 11

Teacher: Ms. Jacqueline R. Dawson

Time Frame: 4 Weeks

Key Terms: The American Dream, Jazz Age, idealism, class stratification, capital, double consciousness, symbolism, figurative language,
character development, motif
Briefly give a narrative overview of the learning unit:
Throughout this unit, students will explore the conception of the American Dream ideology during the post-World War I Jazz Age in the
United States. F. Scott Fitzgeralds The Great Gatsby will be the primary focus of the month, as students engage with important themes,
characters, and symbols that represent significant implications regarding wealth, class, power, socioeconomic status, idealism, and corruption
inherent to the age of excess. Fitzgerald presents a unique perspective of the era, exposing the harsh realities of achieving the American
Dream. Students will examine American society as Fitzgerald paints it during this era, drawing connections to contemporary views of wealth
and success in America.
Over these four weeks, students will not only examine historical references and implications from the text, but they will have the opportunity
to engage with other Jazz Age works by Fitzgerald and explore race, class, and social theories from diverse scholars and writers. This unit
encourages students to venture below the surface of the text and critically analyze how these important themes and issues are relevant in our
present day culture and even within their own personal lives. Students will develop their critical thinking, close reading/annotation, and
debate/presentation skills to effectively engage with the material.
Desired Results
Established Goals:
Explore socioeconomic implications of class and success in American society
Examine the potential limitations of the American Dream ideology as presented in The Great Gatsby
Acquire a basic understanding of the cultural, political, and socioeconomic climate during the Jazz Age
Examine F. Scott Fitzgeralds unique writing style and explore The Great Gatsby as a culturally significant, classic novel
Annotation, close reading, critical thinking and analysis skills

Understanding by Design
Curriculum Template
Essential Questions:
Students will
What is the American Dream and to what extent is it obtainable for
Reflect on their understandings of American idealism
certain class groups in our society?
and use their views, the novel, and historical
Who is F. Scott Fitzgerald and what motifs does he explore?
background knowledge to critically analyze the
How does Fitzgerald challenge idealism through his portrayal of the
American Dream ideology.
decline of the American Dream during the Jazz Age?
Recognize and examine the significance of figurative
How does Fitzgeralds use of symbolism and character
language and symbolism as it relates to major themes in
development work to reinforce central themes of the novel?
the text.
Engage with historical and cultural background
information from the Jazz Age.
Identify and understand how Fitzgeralds use of
character development helps to further significant
moments in the plot.
Assessment Evidence
Performance Tasks:
Other Evidence:
Student participation and meaningful contributions to small
Questions and intuitive comments students make in class
and large group discussions
Potential pop quizzes
Students should complete all readings and demonstrate the
In-class writing responses
ability to critically analyze concepts and draw connections
In-class projects
from the text. This is reflected in their journal entries, class
participation, and homework assignments (evaluates reading
comprehension and critical thinking), which are primarily
graded for completion, but will be collected and reviewed to
gauge student effort and understanding.
Jigsaw Jazz Age group project will evaluate students
understanding of background context of the Jazz Age era.
This assignment will require students to collaborate in
groups to research, create a visual representation of the info,
present/teach their peers, and lead a class discussion.
Students will also write a short research paper relating
background information to important themes in the text.

Understanding by Design
Curriculum Template

Understanding by Design
Curriculum Template



Resources/ Materials

Learning Activities

1) What is the
American Dream?
2) What are your
dreams for the
3) What are your
for English 11 this

1) Introduction to units
covered in English 11
2) Teacher class expectations
3) The American Dream by
societal standards
4) Identifying what constitutes
the American Dream for
students in their own lives
5) Student personal goals and
expectations for English 11

1) Class syllabus
2) Poster paper and
3) Student
4) Student Info/Personal
School Year Goals &
Expectations homework


1) Who is F. Scott
2) What are his major

1) F. Scott Fitzgerald
biographical information
2) Overview of his novels and
short stories
3) Characteristics and context
of the American 1920s Jazz

1) Watch film and take notes using handout as a guide

2) Interactive storytelling using The Curious Case of
Benjamin Button. Students will jigsaw the reading in
pairs and creatively interpret/present the text (e.g. via
mini skit, PPT, poem, photo collage, drawing, etc.)
3) Students will present (3 min) their section of the short
story at the beginning of class tomorrow

1) What is
perception of the
Jazz Age?
2) Why is The Great
Gatsby an
American tale?

1) Fitzgeralds perceptions of
the American Jazz Age,
exploring cultural and
historical implications
2) Introduction to context and
significance of Gatsby
3) Introduction to themes of
excess, desire, class, and

1) F. Scott Fitzgerald: The

Great American
Dreamer (50 min)
2) Film notes worksheet
3) The Curious Case of
Benjamin Button short
4) Poster paper, markers,
5) F.Scott Fitzgerald:
Echoes of the Jazz Age
(1930) essay- HW
1) Student presentation
2) F.Scott Fitzgerald:
Echoes of the Jazz Age
(1930) essay
3) The Great Gatsby (book)
4) Langston Hughes
Harlem- HW reading
and annotation

Review and discuss syllabus/class expectations

What is Your Dream? individual journal reflection
Icebreaker- Pair share/Class share student dreams
Work in small groups to brainstorm definitions/ideas
about the American Dream & create visual depiction to
display and share with the class
5) Create working definition of the American Dream by
societal standards as a class
6) Explain homework sheet due tomorrow

1) Interactive storytelling presentations

2) Class discussion of Fitzgeralds essay (HW reading)
3) Introduce The Great Gatsby via short lecture/students

take notes
4) The Great Gatsby Epigraph Analysis

Understanding by Design
Curriculum Template

1) What aspects of the

American Dream
ideology are
particularly for
minorities? How?
2) Based off our
understandings of
Fitzgerald thus far,
what are his views
of this ideology?

1) What important
events, characters,
symbols, and
themes are
introduced in ch. 1?
2) Who is Nick
Carraway and how
may he be
important to the
advancement of the

1) Reflections on American
Dream ideology as it relates
to student personal lives
and ambitions
2) Critical analysis of the AD
ideology through diverse
3) Exploring double
consciousness- What it
means to be both Black and
American and how this
affects ones perception of
4) Fitzgeralds works and
1) Engaging with a close
reading of ch. 1
2) Exploring implications of
class/geographical wealth
3) Examining Nick
Carraways role as an
outsider narrating the novel
4) Jazz Age Jigsaw projectexploring socioeconomic,
political, historical, and
cultural context of the

1) Student journal prompt

2) Harlem Langston
3) Excerpts from DuBois
The Souls of Black Folk
4) Film notes, Jazz Age
essay, The Curious
Case of Benjamin
Button, The Great

1) Individual student journal reflections that address

similarities/differences between societys conception of
the American Dream and student reality (students may
use excerpts from their What is Your Dream? journal
2) Pair share/Class share discrepancies and discuss
5) Close reading and annotation of Harlem and excerpts
from DuBois The Souls of Black Folk
3) as a class to explore cultural relevance
4) Discuss Fitzgeralds views on the American Dream
based off the film, essay, short story, and epigraph
5) Read Chapter 1 and complete chapter review questions
for homework

1) The Great Gatsby

2) Gossip Girl scene
3) Jazz Age Jigsaw

1) Students will write a chapter 1 reaction journal entry and

pose at least 1 discussion question
2) Pair share/Class share reactions and questions to discuss
3) Explore setting and class stratification by drawing
comparisons between the text and Gossip Girl scenes
(East/West Egg vs. East/West Manhattan and Nick
Carraway vs. Dan Humphries)
4) Introduce Jazz Age Jigsaw project and allow class time
to work with groups