Posted by Bob Greenberger on March 7, 2012
Last week, I took over the 10th grade classes and finally began Macbeth with them. I was excited about it and yes, a little nervous considering all the time I had spent prepping.
Monday was the transition day, as my teacher handed out books while I took the class through a slideshow setting the stage. We covered Shakespeare’s career, the change from Queen Elizabeth to King James, how he researched Macbeth to find something the new Scottish king might enjoy and which sources were consulted. We talked about the play’s origins and its traditions including the theatrical curse about never naming it directly so some might have heard only about “the Scottish play”, and how to rid one of the curse should a mistake be made.
I got some good feedback on how to make it more engaging so when I repeated it for the second class, it went far better.
On Tuesday, I reorganized the seating chart, breaking up some cliques and sitting students in ways to support one another. Then, we did some anticipation guide work followed by having one male and one female student submit to having their bodies outlined on six feet of paper I procured from the Art Department. We then named out figures and had the kids hang them around the class. From there, we did some acting exercises to loosen everyone up and get ready to act.
Wednesday, we finally began scene one by discussing Shakespeare’s use of the opening to hook his audience. I showed them a clip of three different film variations of the same one page of dialogue and discussed the techniques used in adapting the script. Finally, I had my cast address the class and we were off.
To make sure we don’t lose anyone this early, on Thursday we opened with a recap and sure enough there were questions so we retraced our steps and then began discussing Macbeth as a Tragic Hero, giving them a worksheet to keep tabs on his development. I also had students find quotes about Macbeth’s thoughts, feelings, and deeds, putting the quotes near the head, heart, and arms of our life-size drawings.
In other words, so far so good. They were engaged, they were loose, they were having fun acting out the play and each day, I left the classroom smiling.
On the other hand, my seniors began discussing The Kite Runner and sure enough, despite having the week break to read, many had yet to cover the pages. As a result, it was a week spent pulling teeth and getting some reluctant speakers to step up and tell me what they thought so far. This week, I’ll be trying some other approaches to get them talking about the book.
Friday I got a break by attending a seminar about certification that meant I asked my teachers to “sub” for me, which felt weird but apparently went fine.
This is CAPT week, that is the mandatory statewide testing for 10th graders that impacts the entire school schedule so I have adjusted my plans accordingly and we’ll see how that goes.