Using ‘The Great Gatsby’ to Teach Your Old Sports

the_great_gatsby_trailerSometimes the sight of books can immediately deter adult learners away from learning. However, using other forms of media to supplement the dreaded pile of books can put a learner at ease and clarify difficult to understand concepts which he or she may not entirely grasp from reading a passage. With the recent release of the film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 classic The Great Gatsby, adult literacy tutors might want to revisit this story with their adult learners and incorporate the added luxury of film with their teaching. The new movie might even generate more interest from students than had they only read the novel.

Education seems to work best when learning is contextualized and made relevant for the student.  For many adult learners, continuing their education gives them hope and a chance to improve their lives. In fact, several adult learner essays in FLC’s newly released adult learner essay book Believing That You Can deal with returning to school so that they can achieve the American Dream. The story of the amiable, optimistic Jay Gatsby and his realization of the American Dream is one which relates to and resonates with the adult learner.

The accomplished Gatsby seemingly has it all after emerging from his rural and rather ordinary roots. In this way, adult learners who wish to achieve their dreams can identify with the protagonist and his struggle. Ironically Gatsby has the mansion, money, and material possessions, which many individuals will never have, yet he doesn’t have a family with whom to share it all- something that many of our adult learners already have and hold dear to their hearts. (Spoiler Alert?) This is my rationale for the tragic, somewhat discouraging ending which leaves Gatsby unable to fulfill his dream. The fact that our adult learners already have what Gatsby wants displaces Fitzgerald’s cynical view of the American Dream.

There are quite a few other reasons as to why it’s a good idea to introduce The Great Gatsby to your adult learners. The novel is often read in high school English classes, so the language although challenging, isn’t inaccessible for the advanced adult learner preparing to receive his or her GED credentials. There is also the option of using an abridged version of the novel altered with simpler language targeted towards beginning readers. Reading the novel is only the first of many activities that can be done to gain the attention and interest of students. Let’s consider the setting. The story takes place during the Roaring Twenties complete with big bands, the blues, bootlegged booze, and bribes. Brings me back. If your learners like history and/or culture, branch off the story and explore the rich historical context of this era.

The New York Times Learning Blog has put together an extensive list of activities and resources for teachers and tutors to use with their students. For more ideas, visit Teaching the Great Gatsby.

*Half-hearted apologies for the title better left on the cutting room floor with the clichés which the brain automatically dismisses. I couldn’t help myself.*

Which Adult Basic Education Program is right for your Adult Learners?

Here in Florida adult learners are fortunate enough to have the choice between two methods of earning a high school diploma or its equivalent. One can either enroll in an Adult High School program or take the General Education Development (GED) exam. While the AHS programs yield a high school diploma recognized by the state of Florida, passing the GED exam is the equivalent to obtaining a diploma. So what are the differences in these programs? Are there benefits/disadvantages of choosing one method over the other? How can you help your adult learners decide which program is right for them? Lucky for you, my dear reader, I did my homework.

Although each method effectively earns your adult learner a diploma or its equivalent (as long as he/she does his/her homework!), there are some factors to consider. You’ll first want to discover exactly how late into your adult learner’s high school career did he/she drop out. The Florida high school diploma requires that students receive 24 credits in order to graduate, so if your adult learner already has earned a good amount of these credits, he/she can simply enroll in an AHS program to finish what they started. If this endeavor would require the adult learner to spend a considerable amount of time and money pursuing an adult high school diploma, taking the GED is probably the choice route. This is likely the biggest factor to consider when choosing between AHS or GED.

In terms of coursework, both paths sufficiently prepare adult learners in the 4 core areas of Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science. The GED exam assesses these areas while the FCATs/EOCs assess these areas for AHS programs. Furthermore, successful completion of either program is recognized by state colleges and universities as equal to a high school education. Digital literacy skills may also factor into an adult learner’s decision since the GED exam becomes completely digital on January 2014.

Another factor is time, which of course drags along money. Adult learners usually prepare for the GED exam in 6 weeks, and it costs $120 for Florida residents. Re-takes in Florida cost $14 per sub-test, except for the Language Arts Writing section which costs $16, and $26 per sub-test for the 2014 GED test on computers. AHS programs require students to purchase books along with $30 per course for Florida state residents or $120 per course for out-of-state residents. Courses are more flexible for AHS programs, but they also take longer, normally lasting the length of a semester at college. It’s also worth noting that when preparing to move to high education, recipients of an adult high school diploma and those that passed the GED may qualify for a Bright Futures Scholarship.

It would be a shame not to finish this little five-paragraph essay (or drop that phrase for SEO) without some sort of conclusion. Before your adult learners enroll in an Adult Basic Education program, make sure that they consider all the factors. The amount of high school credits previously completed, time it will take to receive a diploma or its equivalent, and the costs of each program.

For more information on adult education, visit

For AHS programs-

For the GED exam-

GED Student Success Story: Noriko Tilley

To go along with the GED theme this month, we’ve decided to include student success stories. If you are interested in reading more stories like Noriko’s, please visit our website. 

Noriko Tilley

Noriko Tilley is a 44-year-old Japanese born woman.  Tilley graduated from high school in Japan and spent two years learning English and German at a vocational school.  In 1988, Tilley married an American air force officer and they moved back and forth several times between Japan and the United States.  During that period, Tilley and her husband had two children.

While her children were at school, Tilley would shop with friends and maintain her home.  Twenty years after she graduated from vocational school, Tilley decided she wanted more from her life.  She enrolled in Oskaloosa-Walton Community College’s ESOL class and then at the recommendation of her instructor, she took a GED class and passed the examination just after two months.

Tilley went full circle from student to teacher; she now works at the college as an advanced level accounting tutor and adult education proctor.

Words of Encouragement:

Stay with the program, why quit.  Set your goal and why quit.  I’m sure there are some people who want to come, but they can’t.  They have to work or something, but if they can, if they have time to stay home then why not?  Come to the great program and study.

FATDEC Adds 2 New Members

FATDEC is proud to announce that 2 new members have joined the consortium!  The organization warmly welcomes Flagler and Baker County Schools!

FATDEC, Florida Adult and Technical Education Consortium, is a group of public schools, school districts, and community colleges working together to deliver curriculum in a web-based environment for adult education and career technical programs in Florida’s postsecondary public institutions.

Now, the FATDEC network consists of 35 members serving adult students with online ABE, GED, ESOL, and Adult High School courses in 38 counties across Florida!  Click here to see our membership map!

The online courses offered are very beneficial for adult learners as they have 24/7 access to the program – allowing students to customize their schedule and learn from home – and many of the courses are free of charge!

Want to know more about FATDEC?  Click here!