Friday, March 11, 2016

Macbeth on Trial

Thank you to StaceyBetsyDanaTaraBeth, Anna, Kathleen & Deb for 
creating community and valuing teachers' writing. This is post 11 of 31 for 
the March Slice of Life Story Challenge. Join us at Two Writing Teachers

"Keep reading it!" Eric laughed. "Oh my God. Is he dead too?  (More laughter.) Ooohhh, I understand now."

Kids are working in groups today to prepare to put Macbeth on Trial. For this culminating activity, I let them choose  groups. They have been sitting in groups I purposefully arranged and rearrange since school started and it always interesting to see what happens when I then allow them to choose. At least half of the eight groups chose to continue together which tells me they've formed (or strengthened) bonds. I love to see that growth in our community.

I also love to see kids so engaged in rehearsing events from a Shakespearean play. The room was full of chatter and chuckle. Comprehension came to life in many of the conversations I listened in on.

"No, remember, Malcolm left. He left with Donlablain! I love Danalblain! But I don't think we can blame him--he wasn't there. " Oh the delight of engagment and exuberance. 

"Ms. Spillane, Mrs. Spillane, we got it!" Sam said. Good to hear such confidence. I have the students in eight groups. Each group will prepare and write pieces to use during next week's trial. The idea of kids putting a character on trial is not a new one; there are several such sites online. When writing curriculum for Plugged-in to Reading, I created crime reports for students to use to pratice writing sequences and description. That was years ago,  but my high school kids still like the role play involved in writing witness and crime reports--though we don't use an organizer or worksheet to write them. Now, kids in the law enforcement group look at several examples and determine what needs to be included. Different groups are working on different parts of the trial, but everyone is researching, writing, speaking or doing something to get ready for next week.

Macbeth on Trial Group Writing Tasks

"Tell her, Abigail!" Abigail had worked out an alternative murderer and her group was eager to share. Kids read Thurber's "The Macbeth Murder Mystery" before jumping into trial preparation. The story is included in our Florida Collections textbook (thank to Kylene BeersCarol JagoBill McBride and Erik Palmer, who all worked on that writing team). The story primed students' imaginations and gave them a way to re-see the tragedy.  

"Her hands, her hands, do this," one encourages as she wrings hands for one of the witness groups.

"All right prosecutions. We've got your evidence!" said another student from the law enforcement group as she swaggered over to a table of young lawyers laptop open in her hands.

I love the approximations as kids try on new-to-them language. I love the energy in the room. And oh how I love the laughter. Sometimes engagement is quiet, creeping on cats feet across pages of print. Other times engagement rumbles and roars, shouts and acts just a little silly. So fun, this teaching life.

Happy weekend all!

PS: To see what my students slicing, step over to our class blog, 31 Students. They'd love to see you there.  


  1. Lee Ann, I love hearing about real world type of learning experiences for students. Your project sounds like it is full of student chatter, investigations, and fun. I cannot wait to hear more about the trial next week.

  2. One of my favorite things is hearing kids laugh when studying tragedy. There is comedy in Macbeth. Love the idea of a trial for Macbeth.

  3. Can't wait to see there work live on Tuesday! Good captures with pictures and text.