This year Piedmont High School's English Department taught The Great Gatsby at the same time as the U.S. History classes were studying the 1920s and '30s, at history teacher Allison Cota's suggestion. (Cota has worked for the past few years on aligning junior year English and history curricula since both courses focus on the U.S.: American History and American Literature.)
The culmination was '20s Nite Out, a Gatsby/1920s-themed dance party for PHS juniors last Sunday night. Juniors dressed in period costume and learned the Charleston and other popular dances of the time. Some students read poetry and others took part in a costume contest.
Cota and Librarian Susan Stutzman partnered to arrange the dance, which included a live band, dance lessons by a professional swing duo, and food and drink.
"The benefits of a dance "assignment" are numerous," said Cota. "It enriches the study of the social history of the '20s by offering a truly kinesthetic component.
"Furthermore it addresses reports of junior year academic stress by offering academic credit for an alternative assessment, i.e., something other than a traditional debate, essay, or test. Further, it allows for students who may not always be high academic achievers to shine outside the traditional academic setting."
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