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Macbeth Booklet: Updated for 2020/2021

Last year I created a full Macbeth booklet for teaching the play, which included:

  • knowledge organiser
  • retrieval quizzes
  • key extracts with lots of room for annotations
  • big questions
  • plot outline
  • context
  • QR codes to massolit lectures
  • key quotation bank
  • model essay and essay structure

A lot of this material, especially the retrival quizzes and key extracts, was supplied by previously available resources of @dowise and @SPryke2 and so, as ever, massive shout out to them! The intention was to have this booklet, more or less, as the only resources I would need when teaching the play.

Having now used it for a full teaching cycle, I’ve made a few changes which I’ve outlined below.

Change No 1: Quizzes and KO

I’ve removed all of the retrieval quizzes and knowledge organiser. Don’t fear! This is certainly not a rejection of retrival practice, far from it: this is a key aspect of my practice.

However, I was finding when teaching I would not typically use the pre-written retrieval quizzes previously included in the booklet as I would favour writing ones specific to the class, which would be more attuned and responsive to areas I felt they needed to work on.

So, rather than feel beholden to this I removed the quizzes and will continue to write more responsive ones as part of my usual teaching routines.

I also removed the knowledge organiser as I wasn’t using it and it was there, really, because a knowledge organiser is what everyone uses, right (?!). But, if it’s not being used and just looking pretty it can be binned. Obviously others may use these really well and as intended, but I wasn’t.

Change No 2: Context

I decided to alter the way I deliver context. I do think for Macbeth some context needs teaching up front (for example great chain of being, the supernatural) but I don’t think the first version of the booklet set this up as well as it could.

Initially, I had include large chunks of written information and then designed a read/highlight/summarise task based on that information. This involved lots of self-guided reading and whilst I did of course check understanding afterwards, I felt there could be a more effective way to deliver this same material.

Here’s what I have now:

The idea now is to create a mind map of the most salient points (being sure not to bolt on too much up front and let the text itself do most of the contextual work) and then to talk students through this in real time, with them having opportunities to draw the same material. And then lots of pausing and checking understanding.

Change No 3: Warning Mind Map

Last teaching, about 3/4 of the way through the play we paused, stepped back and considered in lots of detail why Shakespeare is writing the play. I framed this as: Shakespeare writes the play to warn the audience of the consequences of… We talked about it being a play to warn again the supernatural, regicide, transgressing one’s station in life, etc.

I thought this worked so well I included the template in the booklet itself, for us to discuss and map out in real time, with me guiding them through the points:

Change No 5: New Extracts

I found that when first teaching using the booklet some key extracts were missing that I ended up talking about so I’ve included these. I also encountered a problem them needed solving: there were some lines that I wanted to discuss but the wider extract they occur within didn’t need to be cited in its entirety. So, how to include these lines without the whole extract?

This is what I came up with:

So, now the line is included as part of the booklet and in the right chronological place, but without the whole extract to which it belongs. I can contextualise the image, we can discuss and annotate it, and then move to the next key extract.

There have probably a few more changes, but these are the main ones. The rest of the booklet remains the same!

Download the Booklet

  1. Here’s the link to download the old booklet should you prefer it:
  2. Here’s the link to download the new and updated booklet:


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