The American Dream: Exploring themes from The Great Gatsby in poetry

Students will read and analyze the poem, "The American Dream." This lesson may serve as an introduction to the novel The Great Gatsby and its major theme.

By Mr. McPeak
January 29, 2014
9th Grade English

Writing Prompt

The poem "The Amercian Dream" was written by a high school student, Amy H., from Wichita, Kansas. Does the poem sound like it was written by a teenager? Do you want to write poetry of this caliber? The a good first step to doing so is to be able to read and interpret poems by poets you admire.

Determine a theme (or central idea) in the poem "The American Dream." Analyze how the theme develops over the course of the poem. Include specific details from the text that illustrate (or clearly show) the theme. Your analysis of the theme should be objective and based on the poem. Do not choose the title of the poem, "The American Dream," as the theme. The theme you choose must go further than that; it must say something ABOUT the American Dream. What is THIS poem saying?

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9th Grade English Language Arts Standards

This lesson teaches the following grade level appropriate state literacy standards. The cubes provide an abbreviation of the standard name and reference number. Click Add to My Lesson Plans to make a copy of the lesson. Making a copy will allow you to update any information including the literacy standards.

Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 9–10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.
Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).
Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)
Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
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