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Macbeth Unit Plan

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

If you are teaching 'Macbeth' to your students, it can be extremely helpful to have a solid unit plan. This lesson offers you an outline that you can turn into your own.

Teaching Macbeth

Teaching Shakespeare is never simple, and Macbeth is often one of the first tragedies that students encounter. The play is a compelling one, dealing with themes such as the nature of power, the relationship between men and women, and what it means to be a strong leader without being a tyrant. At the same time, it is not a simple play. The plot is complex and the language will be unfamiliar to many students. For this reason, it can be particularly important to work with a solid unit plan. A unit plan will keep you organized and at a good pace, enabling you to devote more attention to where your students are and the kinds of questions they are raising. The unit plan offered here is meant to take place over the course of four weeks. Of course, you can modify it to address instructional goals and your students' needs, but it offers an overview of how such a unit might look.

Macbeth Unit

Week One

For the first few days of week one, you will want to do some pre-reading activities with your students. If they have never read Shakespeare before, consider having them research his life and times. Another possibility is to get students thinking and writing about some of the play's themes, such as ambition and leadership.

Then, have students read the first act of the play. It can be especially helpful in the beginning to do a large portion of the reading as a class. This way, students can get into the rhythm of Shakespeare's language and stop to talk and ask questions about things they do not understand.

Week Two

During this second week of your study, try to get students reading a bit more independently. They should read Acts Two and Three of the play this week. If they are doing a good portion of their reading as homework, make sure to include assignments that help them monitor their comprehension as they go.

In these acts, we are really introduced to the play's major plots and themes. Incorporate activities and discussions that help your students think about Lady Macbeth and what Shakespeare is showing about gender through her character. Have your students keep track of their thoughts on Macbeth's character and how and why he might be beginning to change.

Week Three

This week, students will read the final two acts of the play. They might be shocked at the extent of the tragedy in the play's ending, so make sure to give them plenty of time to process their thoughts and feelings. It can also be helpful to go back and reread crucial scenes and monologues.

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