Macbeth Unit Plan

I have not been happy with my Macbeth unit for some time. I sat down with my department chair today and brainstormed, and I have come up with a new plan that includes some serious tweaking and a performance task that I’m in love with (I only hope the students will be, too). I have left my old unit plan up for comparison.

I spent most of the evening reading through Shakespeare Set Free: Teaching A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth, and I have decided that most of the unit will consist of lesson plans from this text. Even if you decide not to use all the lessons in this book, it’s an invaluable resource and perhaps one of the single most important additions to your professional library if you teach Shakespeare. Almost all of my learning plan consists of lessons from this book, and because of copyright restrictions, I have provided only the page numbers for your reference.

I used Wordle to create the Macbeth Wordle/word cloud I reference in the learning plan. You can easily create one, too. I would advise taking out words like “exit, exeunt, Macbeth, and lady” as well as other character names as they will skew the word counts in favor of character names instead of common words, such as “blood, night, sleep, and hands.”

The lesson I called “If it were done” comes from Joe Scotese and can be found at his site A Way to Teach. You will need to register and earn at least five points before you can download this lesson. Joe has a great site, and I highly encourage you to join up, particularly if you teach British literature or Shakespeare in any capacity. Essentially, the lesson involves a close reading of Macbeth’s soliloquy alongside a version from Shakespeare Made Easy; students learn that Shakespeare says a great deal on many levels with his word choices (this activity will really blow their minds; it blew mine!), and that modern translations cannot adequately substitute for the original.

Finally, you can download a PDF of my performance task. It is customized for my class. If you would like, you may keep the PDF I created for my class, but you won’t be able to make changes to it.

Addendum: I can no longer customize these handouts. Please feel free to use the one I shared here.

7 thoughts on “Macbeth Unit Plan”

  1. I'm impressed by your initiative to revise and collaborate to improve teaching. I hope you'll write about this process during and after the unit too.

    1. Thanks, Ryan. I am all about collaboration. I also tweak what I'm doing every year. I don't understand teachers who do the same thing every year without examining the results. I'm not sure what you mean about writing about the process—how I composed the unit? Why I questioned the performance task? I'd be happy to elaborate. Just let me know what your questions are.

  2. AHAhahaha…. I cannot BELEEV you posted this right after I picked up my SSF tonight. WUHU! Now I can just use YOUR unit plan. ^.^

    Excepting that since we're on blocks I'll need to reconfigure most of the Folger stuff. I might be able to give it 2.5 weeks.

    Beautiful work on the PDF, btw! Will you give a color printout to your students, or photocopy it? Oo, or are you going paperless?

    1. I am going to put the handout on Edline and ask them to download and print it on their color printers at home if they want a printed copy. We could potentially go paperless, but we're not quite there yet. I am gradually working toward it, though.

  3. Dana, I'm using SSF for my entire Macbeth unit in the spring too– I used a few lessons last year but didn't have time to use more, and this spring, I will have much more time!

    How did you make that PDF, graphics-wise? I've been thinking about ways to make my assignment sheets more visually interesting.

    1. Jackie, I designed it using Apple's iWork program called Pages, which is its word processor. iWork also comes with Keynote (presentation), and Numbers (like Excel). I think it's supposed to be Apple's answer to Office. I have to say for looks, they have Microsoft beat. I haven't used Numbers, but Keynote is my favorite presentation software. It's so much more beautiful than PowerPoint. Pages I've used a few times (this being one), and it really does a nice job on complex handouts like this one.

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