At Princess Anne High School, English 10 students in the Middle Years Program (MYP) were assessed in a novel way on their knowledge of the content, themes, and historical significance of The Great Gatsby.
Jill Allen, English teacher, and Jamie LaCava-Owen, gifted resource teacher, collaborated on the summative assessment that reconfigured the “tea party” strategy. In the book, Gatsby throws magnificent parties, so they recreated the setting of a Gatsby party in the library, password and all.
Students were given a character or historical figure from the time period, whose role they were forced to assume. Students were required to find two primary sources with a minimum of 10 historical facts, memorize a minimum of three direct quotes from the novel in order to use during the gala, have a minimum of three talking points, and bring in a dish that had a metaphorical meaning for their character (i.e.: one student brought in stuffed jalapenos for Tom Buchanan because he was hot-tempered and full of himself).
“It was really interesting to see how the students really assumed the roles of their character and inferenced the character’s reaction to certain things that were mentioned. For example, Coco Chanel flippantly discussing her extramarital affairs with Tom Buchanan, or Langston Hughes discussing the position of the black man in society during that time,” said LaCava-Owen. “I heard some really great feedback from the kids, even the seemingly shy ones. I really enjoy those moments that they are engaging with the text and truly demonstrating their learning, but they’re having so much fun they don’t even realize how educational it is!”
During the gala there was 1920s music playing, a selfie station for students to take pictures with one another and they were required to engage in conversation with one another. They had to stay in character, and utilize the direct quotes they memorized. They were to interact with one another as if they were that character and actually at Gatsby’s gala. They also had to dress as their character.