Monday, December 14, 2015

The Great Gatsby Science and ELA Integrated Lesson

This past summer I had the opportunity to take a two-week science and English integration class for teachers. It was an eye-opening experience to learn just how differently science and English brains work. As a fun way to wrap up our first Friday of this class, we did an easy oil and water experiment. As I watched the mesmerizing colors seep down through the oil, I immediately thought of how I could use this fun experiment with my Gatsby Color Symbolism Unit. Five months later, I finally got to test out this lesson, and my students thought it was SO cool. It was a hit for sure!

(This is me on the right being very excited about my first ever lab coat!)

The Great Gatsby Science and ELA Integrated Lesson: 

1. First, I set the pre-filled water bottles out on their desks (I just asked my coworkers to save me their recycling). 

2. I asked the students to predict what would happen when I poured the oil in the water. Most of them knew what would happen, but hardly anyone could explain WHY. So, I had them read an informational text on why oil and water don't mix. 

3. After reading, they filled out their flipbook page by writing down oil and water properties. 
(My lesson is in a book format, so that's why Tom is on the other page) 

4. Then, they had to switch from their science brain to their English brain and decide who or what in The Great Gatsby represents oil and who or what represents water. I had a lot of unique answers to this question, so the oil and water analogy really sparked critical thinking! One answer was that Daisy is the oil because she only cares about herself and is uppity (oil has zero charge, so it is only attracted to itself and sits on top of the water). 

5. Next, we got to the fun part--adding the food coloring! Since we have been doing a color analysis of The Great Gatsby, I had students describe the symbolism of each  drop of color before putting it into their bottle. Again, lots of great discussion with this! 

(Gold  and riches mixed with "blood" red to show Myrtle's desire to climb the social ladder ended brutally)  
 (Green for the green light that represents Gatsby's envy) 

6. Then, we did a close reading of the last passage of the book: 

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic   future that year by year recedes before us. It  eluded us then, but that’s no matter–  tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther...And one fine morning—- So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

7. Lastly, I had students add a small, plastic bead to the bottle to represent a boat.We then held the bottle on its side and created waves. I told the students to try and get the "boat" to the "light" at the end of the bottle. Of course, this didn't happen because the boat went against the current, "borne back ceaselessly into the past." I have tried to teach this passage at least 10 times now, but this single activity brought it to life for my students. They really got it! 

Full Gatsby Unit Here: 

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