Skip Navigation

American Dream and The Great Gatsby

Curriculum Tie:

Group Size:


This lesson extends over several class periods. Students analyze the claim, grounds, warrants, qualifiers and counterclaims in three articles about the American Dream. Students conduct research and find two additional articles about the American Dream. Students then analyze the argument in those articles. Finally, students write their own argument essay about the current state of the American Dream.

Main Curriculum Tie:
English Language Arts Grade 11-12Reading: Informational Text Standard 1
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.


  • Copies of the following articles: "America Faces 1933's Realities," "Testing the Resonance of the American Dream," and "What Happens to the American Dream in a Recession." I have included links to my sources for these texts in the web site section of this lesson.
  • American Dream handout.
  • American Dream Search handout.
  • In-Class Argument Essay handout and rubric.


Web Sites

Background For Teachers:

  • Students will need to know how to cite sources using MLA.
  • Students need to understand Toulmin Argumentation (claim, grounds, warrant, qualifiers and counterclaims). This is a good follow-up lesson after teaching Toulmin argumentation; it can help to cement student understanding of Toulmin.
  • Although this lesson may be done independently, it works well as a companion lesson for The Great Gatsby.

Intended Learning Outcomes:

  • Students read to determine claims and examine how ideas develop over the course of a text.
  • Students cite textual evidence to support analysis of the text.
  • Students conduct short research projects to answer a question.
  • Students write an argument about the current state of the American Dream.

Instructional Procedures:

  1. Pass out the three articles and the American Dream handout.
  2. Explain the assignment: Do a close reading of each of the articles (but do NOT annotate the articles) and then decide what CLAIM each article is making. Record the GROUNDS (explicit textual evidence) for each CLAIM. Determine the possible WARRANTS for the grounds. Look for and record any QUALIFIERS and COUNTERCLAIMS.
  3. Remind students that there may be more than one "correct" claim and that there are many ways to word the same claim.
  1. Assign each student one partner.
  2. Take the class to a computer lab.
  3. Pass out the American Dream Article Search handout.
  4. Review the assignment: You and your partner will search for TWO different articles about the American Dream. Do NOT print your articles, but read the articles and record the following information for each of the articles: correct MLA citation, title, author, claim, grounds, warrants, qualifiers, counterclaims.
  1. Pass out the In-Class Argument Essay handout.
  2. Review the assignment: Considering the current economic conditions and other factors in our country, write your own argument on the state of the American Dream. Don't forget to back up your CLAIM with GROUNDS. (Be sure to EXPLAIN your evidence and examine your warrants - Do your warrants need to be explicitly stated?) Don't forget to QUALIFY your claim and include a COUNTERCLAIM. Write your argument in the form of a mini-essay.
  3. Remind students to refer to the rubric.
  4. Allow students time in class to write the essay.

Assessment Plan:
A rubric is included in the handouts and the instructional procedures sections of this lesson.


Created Date :
Aug 11 2012 13:57 PM

© Utah Education Network in partnership with the Utah State Board of Education and Higher Ed Utah.
UEN does not endorse and is not responsible for content on external websites linked to from this page.
(800) 866-5852     |     KUEN CPB Compliance    |     Web Accessibility     |     Captioning