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Creative Teaching Strategies: Macbeth

Tips for teachers - teaching resources

Looking for some fun teaching resources and tips for Macbeth? You might need them! Let's face it: Most high school students had rather suffer through a root canal than endure a typical lecture on Shakespeare. It doesn't have to be that way, however. A creative teacher can come up with innovative ways to teach Macbeth that the students will actually find enjoyable.

I'm retired now, but I taught British Literature for years. I loved it, but I was diappointed to discover that few of my high school students appreciated the bard in quite the same way I did...and still do. I thought to myself, "Okay. I'm smart. I'm creative. There has to be a way to get these kids excited about Macbeth!" I tried several strategies and turned to numerous teaching resources, but the one I'm about to describe worked the best.

After my introductory lecture about the real Macbeth and a little history behind the play, I divided the class into four groups. In each group, I tried to include a very good student, a creative student, a shy student, and an unmotivated student. I assigned each group an act of the play, except for Act I, which we read together in class. The students had to read the rest of the play for homework.

Each group had to teach their act to the class - in any way they chose. It didn't have to be word-for-word. They just had to get the basic plot and main ideas across to their classmates. They had several days, including a weekend, to work on their project. The group members got the phone numbers of their fellow members, and they met at a local park, the football field, the public library, or at a member's home to work together. I gave the grade for this assignment A LOT of weight to encourage participation and hard work.

The students never ceased to amaze me! I've had groups present puppet shows, radio shows, videos, and musicals. More than one group made arrangements with the drama teacher and booked the performing arts stage to present their act, complete with costumes from the Drama Club. Another group performed Macbeth as a rap, complete with background "music."

A group that had the act with the banquet scene included the whole class in on their presentation. They went to the principal to ask permission to use the faculty dining room, and he okayed it. Then they researched medieval foods and banquets and listed the foods on a sign-up sheet so that everyone could bring something for our class banquet. Only dishes they had in medieval Scotland were allowed. They even sent "parchment scroll" invitations to all the administrators. While we feasted, they performed their act. We all had a ball, including a couple of assistant principals!

One of the most creative presentations was "Macbeth Does Survivor," based on the then-popular TV show. Scotland was the island, and the victims who were murdered in the play were the ones who were voted off the island. They filmed the action in the park and showed the video to the class.

One of the funniest presentations was "Macbeth Does the Jerry Springer Show." It was hilarious! Macbeth was a "guest" and he was blaming all the other "guests" for his downfall. One of the witches "phoned into" the show. The entire class laughed so hard that tears were running down our faces.

We always had a great time with Macbeth. It gave students who weren't particularly studious to show off their creativity or other skills. The students had to use speaking skills, organizational skills, and team work to be successful. And you know what? The kids actually learned about the play and understood it. It was rare for anyone to fail the Macbeth test. All the students were actively engaged and were enjoying the learning process. In my opinion, that's how learning should be!

For a wealth of information and ideas about teaching strategies for Macbeth, consider the books below. For information about making simple costumes, click the link below the books and guides.

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Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on October 20, 2011:

princess, you are soooo right! I'm surprised more teaching resources don't advise that strategy!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on October 20, 2011:

mazio, your kind words are much appreciated! I used all kinds of teaching resources, but mostly, I came up with my own. lol

Sharilee Swaity from Canada on March 30, 2011:

Wonderful ideas! As a former English teacher, I quite enjoyed your idea of giving a chapter to a group, each. That is a wonderful idea, and we as teachers know that you learn the most from teaching something!

maziocreate on March 09, 2011:

Thanks Habee for reinforcing the use of alternative strategies that are FUN for both the teacher and students. For the last 15 years I've been working with adults and youth who have disabilities or learning difficulties. Using strategies where they made decisions about their learning was an integral component of their teaching process.

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It sounds like you and your students thoroughly enjoyed the Macbeth encounter. Congratulations on giving the students a peak learning experience.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on December 23, 2010:

Thanks for your kind words!

Beach Bum Bhudda from Maui, Hawaii on December 11, 2010:

You sound like a terrific teacher, who gives the students room for creativity and exploration. I bet your students never forgot your lessons or you. Your middle name must be "exciting."

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on November 11, 2010:

Many thanks, Darlene!

Darlene Sabella from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ... on November 09, 2010:

Excellent hub my new friend, this is truly great teaching. We never stop learning and I have always loved going back to school, and I am also retired and there is so much to learn. Hope you read my hubs as well. rate you up thank you, darksi

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on October 26, 2010:

WT, I used creative teaching strategies whenever I could!

reversecharles from Houston, Texas on October 07, 2010:

I'll pass these creative teaching strategies on to my teacher friends.

World-Traveler from USA on October 05, 2010:

Thanks! You have just given great ideas on how to teach a number of topics heretofore found difficult. Theatrics! That would help to liven up any normally boring topic. The students themselves in fact could wear costumes and create stage props for the classroom!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 27, 2010:

So glad you enjoyed it, traveler!

Traveler on June 20, 2010:

Congratulations Habee for this informative article. I am very interested with the medieval history. Middle Age is the birth epoch of the actual literature.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on April 21, 2010:

AP, I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful principal who believed in me 100%! He never questioned my methods and was always supportive.

alternate poet on April 21, 2010:

just found this - I also try to do things along these lines, students love it, authorities seem to resist it, wonder why.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on December 01, 2009:

Thanks, Belle! I received your email and sent you one in return.

bellechan on December 01, 2009:

Hi Habee,

I just graduated with a degree from my university in august majoring in english language and literature studies. Just so you know, i'm from Malaysia- in south east asia. Reading your hub made me realize that my 3 years of studying was mundane and downright boring. We were only given notes and had tutorial classes and that was all there was to it.

We did a number of plays including Dr. Faustus but wasn't really given the chance to re-enact the play based on our creativeness. I thank you again for the hub because i'm going to propose to my ex-lecturers to use that method to get the class going. thx a bunch, belle *wink*

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