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Great Gatsby Simulation

Cora Baron

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Mrs. Burgess’s teaching legacy continues. Mrs. Pollnow’s AP U.S. History students conduct a 1920’s Great Gatsby Simulation in the week following Valentine’s Day. Each student takes on a role of a historical figure from the era. Together, they will explore the causes of the tension between old and new ideas of during the progressive era and the ways the tension was manifested. In addition, these hard-working students must prepare a speech, costume, and questions for the other characters. Moreover, delivery and knowledge are key for a successful and interesting presentation.

Melinda Chang (11) discusses her portrayal of Sinclair Lewis, an author known for his ideas in Babbitt and Main Street. “I am confident in my presentation,” she says, “I was able to gain new perspectives of tensions in the 1920’s.” Historiography plays a big part in preparation. As AP students, they are expected to review primary source documents, the textbook, and online sources, researching all points of view to gain a greater understanding of the tension discussed. Christina Dinh (11), acting a typical flapper, appreciates how she has, “learned more about specific people and how they interact.” She also shares that this is her favorite activity of the year so far. Ryan Wirjadi (11) is, “fascinated by listening to well-done speeches.” Sometimes the best way to learn a concept is by experiencing it.

This activity has proved itself a favorite for the majority of students. The people are no longer names in a book, they are standing, speaking, and answering questions. A discussion is held rather than a lecture. Naturally, AP classes require more work than an on level class, but if a student possesses passion for a subject, it is a perfect way for them to challenge themselves. Students will finish off with a “Great Gatsby Party”, concluding the salon style presentations and discussions.

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