Teaching Challenge: Strategies for Tackling MacBeth

Macbeth - PosterBy Amanda Szramiak — In my current field placement at West Allis Central High School, I am placed in an English 10 class and a World Literature class, which is all seniors.

For my Literacy in the Content Areas course, I had to teach a strategy lesson in either the sophomore or senior class. After talking with my cooperating teacher, I decided to teach in the sophomore class. The English 10 class is significantly smaller than the senior class so I thought I would be more comfortable teaching them for the first time. However, there was a change in plans.

The senior class began studying Macbeth, which I happened to be studying in my Shakespeare class. When I told my cooperating teacher about this, he remarked how interesting it would be for both the students and myself if I tackled teaching them Macbeth. Despite his confidence in me, I explained, “I don’t think I know Macbeth enough to teach it. I don’t want to screw your students up!” My teacher replied, “Well, there’s no other way to find out!”

Suddenly, I was up for the challenge.

After looking at the criteria for the lesson plan and the standards for grade twelve, I realized I didn’t necessarily have to teach Macbeth. I narrowed the standards down to two: CCSS. RL 11-12. 4 and CCSS. RL. 11-12. 7. I created a lesson plan revolving around figurative language in Macbeth. First, I gave all thirty students an “easy” quiz on figurative language asking them to match the key term with the appropriate phrase. The figures of speech I decided to focus on were alliteration, metaphor, paradox, simile equivocation, idiom, and personification. Before teaching the lesson, I gave the quiz to two of my friends the night before I taught to make sure it wasn’t too hard for the students. Unfortunately, both Marquette students failed the quiz, which led me into a panic worrying about whether my lesson plan was going to fail. Thankfully, the students had a better understanding than my two (former) best friends.

When I gave the students the quiz, I apologized for giving them a quiz the first time I was teaching them. In my cooperating teacher’s feedback, he told me not to apologize to the students, which is now a part of my rules for teaching. After the students took the quiz, we went over each question, and I gave them brief definitions of each figure of speech.

Then, we played human tic-tac-toe (an activity I did in one of my education classes), in which I divided the students in half with Team 1 and Team 2. I alternated between each team asking them to identify what type of figure of speech the quote I pulled from Macbeth was. The students moaned when I made them physically get out of their seats in order to play the game, which was also the reaction I had when my teacher made us play. The students were able to identify the figures of speech in Macbeth.

I asked the students to give me feedback from the lesson as an exit slip. I had them fill out a sheet of paper with “Something I learned” and “Feedback for Ms. Szramiak.” The feedback ranged from, “Don’t make me stand,” to “I think you will be a great teacher.” I was extremely nervous for this lesson, but I truly did see it as a success. My cooperating teacher gave me constructive feedback, which is incredibly valuable for me now as well as myself as a future educator.

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