Top Three Must-Haves for Teaching The Great Gatsby

Read about eMediaVA Ambassador Heidi Speece’s must-have resources for teaching The Great Gatsby.

One of my favorite times of the year as a teacher is when I get to dust off the book jacket with the golden eyes and introduce a new group of students to the fascinating world of Jay Gatsby and the 1920s.  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald continues to stand the test of time, and with so many resources to choose from, it can be hard to decide where to turn to first. 

These are my top three staples that I use every year to supplement my lessons:

1.        So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to be and why it Endures by Maureen Corrigan (Amazon)

This in-depth look at the life of F. Scott Fitzgerald by the Fresh Air book critic is a must-read for any Gatsby fan and teacher!  Corrigan travels to many of Fitzgerald’s old haunts and discusses the relationship between the author and his protagonist.  Her observations made me fall in love with the classic all over again, and I share many of her findings with my students. 

2.        “Famous People, Incredible Lives: F. Scott Fitzgerald” Video

This seven-minute video is available on eMediaVA, and it gives a quick, but thorough, biography of the author.  It also introduces Zelda and the couple’s turbulent relationship.  This is a great way to end a lesson on the life of the complicated Fitzgerald.

3.       “The Valley of Ashes: The Great Gatsby” Video

This clip from the PBS series American Masters takes a deep dive into the symbolism of the Valley of Ashes and the Dr. T. J. Eckleburg billboard.  I often pair this with a discussion of how the symbols are still relevant today.

If you have a favorite Gatsby resource, please share it in the eMediaVA Facebook group.  Until then, here’s hoping the green light shines brightly for you and your students this school year!

Heidi Speece is an eMediaVA Ambassador and a 9-12 English teacher for Virtual Virginia. Heidi just published her first book, My Journey with Ernie, about her many misadventures with her dog, Ernie.

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