Monday, November 21, 2016

A Little Adventure in Learning (and uploading videos) - Macbeth Unplugged

It's that time of year when all AP Literature students (or at least the ones at Stratford) study "the Scottish play" - or, for those of us who are not thespians, "Macbeth".  I firmly believe that Shakespeare, when he sat down to write his plays, didn't envision high school students some four hundred years later reading and annotating the plays, but rather intended for them to be acted out on the stage.  Couple that with the fact that I was (and am) one of those kids who, when called upon to role play anything immediately start either sweating, or laughing, or both. It's a bad scene.  So, in the spirit of not being a hypocrite, yet wanting to honor what I believe were the Bard's true intentions, I decided that rather than just reading the play and filling out a packet, we would take a more interpretive route.  Here's what we did, and here's what I learned from it...
After splitting the kids into six groups, each group was assigned a section of the play (there are five acts, but act one is a doozie, so I split that one in half).  Each group was then charged with creating and presenting their interpretation of their assigned section with the following guidelines:

  1. Do NOT just reenact the play as it is written.
  2. Capture the key events in the section.
  3. Determine the most important lines in your section, and speak that in Shakespearean English (the rest of your reenactment should be in modern day English).
  4. Film whatever your final product is, and upload it to itsLearning.
Additionally, the kids had to (presumably*) read the entire play, as well as their scene, and were given two and a half weeks to put their piece together.  I created an assignment page for the kids to upload to, as well as a "viewing" page, with the reasoning that it would be much more fluid to watch the play from start to finish with the embedded videos, rather than having to jump from one assignment to another.  Plus, this plan caused the kids to have an opportunity to upload the video twice, which hopefully will make the future projects I have planned easier for them.  

Thankfully, the majority of the project went very smoothly, with only a two of groups out of twenty-four struggling in some fashion to get their videos into its.  (I'm not convinced it was a technology issue, but more along the lines of procrastination).  Of the two that were not successful, I just had them email me the video, I uploaded it to Google Drive, and then pasted that link into the embed box.  

Finally, I created a survey asking the kids to give me feedback on how this project, as opposed to a more traditional approach to studying a play (e.g. read the play, fill out the packet, take a test), worked.  I'm interested to see what the overall response is, and will share that in future posts.


  1. I've got to go watch these! So excited about the opportunities you are providing your students.

  2. Love the "Viewing" page so students could view the play from start to finish! Wondering about the feedback from the students and your reflections... Were your objectives accomplished? How might you tweak the process if at all? So looking forward to learning more! Thanks for being the risk taker you are!