Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Macbeth for Kids

I've been reading Macbeth with my fourth graders. The real Macbeth by Shakespeare, not one of the many children's versions. I teach in a small "urban" district, one beset with all of the maladies of other "urban" public school districts. But I was determined that we would read Macbeth. After reading Romeo and Juliet with a group of fifth graders a few years ago, I knew it was possible.

First, of course, I had to teach the class to read. I did it using The Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking, published by The Riggs Institute. It was a struggle, but it paid off. While not everyone is as fluent as I'd like, we're reading Macbeth, bit by bit, every day. The exciting thing is that most of the students are enjoying it. We stop a lot to discuss things like plot, character, and "what did he just say?" I've read this play before, I've got my heavily annotated edition, and I do a lot of explaining, except for the dirty parts. We just pass over those.

I'm amazed almost daily at how well some of my students are understanding the motivations of the characters, what they're thinking, possible future plot directions, and themes. Some of the essays they've written about the play have shown remarkable perception. Some haven't.

Either way, it sure beats the stuffings out of reading the district approved dreck the rest of the fourth grade is subjected to.

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At 10:50 AM, Blogger Rancher said...

That’s great but I'm amazed you’re allowed to do this. Does your administration know you aren’t reading the district approved dreck?

At 7:46 PM, Blogger Harry said...

One of the advantages of working in a district like mine is that once the door is closed you can do pretty much as you please. I email my lesson plans to my principal every week. I don't know if he reads them or not, but he's generally reasonable and he knows how I teach. So if he knows I'm teaching Macbeth he's letting me. I haven't brought it up to him because even though he knows that most parents support what I teach because the've seen the results, he is from the "phonics doesn't work, but if we dumb it down enough the students will learn it" school of thought. As for the administrators above him . . . I do not wish to speak ill of those who can make my life miserable.


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