We’re reading Macbeth. We’ve watched movie clips, acted a few short segments, dissected very few quotations, summarized scenes, started a class blog, drawn 8-panel comics, and written briefly about theme. We have not had many class conversations, nor done any writing of significant length, nor connected the play to current events, nor related the decisions to choices we make. A set of quotations as a basis for class discussion of these things is my project for the weekend and should be the content of the class next week.
This is my first time with Macbeth and this has not been a good year for firsts. My experience with One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest was equally dissatisfying. Our trip through Macbeth has not challenged the advanced kids at all. I feel like the lower and middle kids are doing a good job with the play, but my upper students are bored stiff.
I thought that adding a blog assignment I created would help (there are five different response styles and groups are responsible for one response style and one act of the play). Negative comments are about all I’ve overheard from the upper kids. There’s a video project I’ve put out there, but that’s all outside of class. I have a hard time assigning one thing to the rest of my class and another thing to the advanced kids, but I also want to push everyone, top and bottom alike.
Most kids are currently seeing this play as black and white. There are no shades of gray in determining fault or motivation or personality. I need to find a way to introduce those shades of gray. I suspect that’s what will keep the advanced students interested.
Right now, I’m thinking of a debate. Here are possible resolves:
- Macbeth is a tragedy.
- Macbeth is worth the audience’s sympathy.
- Lady Macbeth is the most influential character of the play.
- The events in the play are solely Macbeth’s fault.
But how else could I engage my higher-level students while not losing my middle- and lower-level students? How does a lower student earn an A based on one set of projects and a higher student earn a B based on a completely different set of projects? How can I have one set of expectations for one kid and a completely different set for another? Grades for a class need to be grades based on all of the same work, right? Can each student in a class have a different individualized education plan, yet still earn credit for the same course?