In the spirit of trying new things this year, I've dusted off my copy of The Great Gatsby and am finally putting into the curriculum. I've wanted, after a 7 year absence, to get to it in the spring but the year just gets away from me. So I've rearranged our novels a bit and am determined to share this one with the class.
We started with a great discussion of social classes in a society, beginning with Janie and Joe from Hurston's novel. Kids were really insightful about how Janie did not fit in the lifestyle Joe created and did not want to be set apart from her peers and the townspeople. Then we looked at the different groups of students evident in the building and listed a good dozen or so, deciding where each of them fits and how fluid one's movement among groups can be. And it is safe to say that the list kids created today has many of the same groups as it did 20 years ago! Finally I shared with them Ruby Payne's framework for the classes in today's world - poverty, middle class, and wealthy. It was enlightening to all of us to see the different survivial skills and lifestyle elements present in each of the classes. Looking at the hidden rules Payne laid out, the middle class seems to be the one to which the majority of us identify.
So students now have books and reading schedules in their hands. I'm excited to work through this novel. There is some great symbolism and an intriguing plot. Plus a new movie version, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, will be released in December! Can't wait!