Poem A Day:

Today, I had students take out their copy of Death Cab for Cutie’s “Marching Bands of Manhattan.” If students did not have a copy, I had one for them with (no e.c.) at the top. Students had a quiz today, wherein they had to respond to this prompt:

How can you connect this song to Macbeth? What similar themes do they share? Use specific details from the play and lines from the song in your response. If they had their original copy of the lyrics, I gave them 1 extra credit point for the quiz.


Today we read the essay “Macbeth: A Modern Perspective” by Susan Snyder. We discussed some of her ideas and also her way of expressing those ideas. This was to get students prepared to write their essays.


Active Engagement:

Students got onto chromebooks and began working on their theme essays. I conferenced one-on-one with each student to see what their topic was about. This was the first time ever that every single student had ideas and knew what to write about.


I reviewed my expectations and reminded students to prepare for the next class’s test.


Poem A Day:

No PAD today- too much work to get through as the end of the year nears…



Today I started class by letting students know what to expect in the next two weeks. Here is the 5 class-day plan I unveiled to them:

  • Today: Finish Macbeth
  • Day 2 Work on New Essay Assignment
  • Day 3 Test/formulate seminar questions
  • Day 4 Socratic Seminar
  • Day 5 Work on Essays
  • Day 6 Essays due

I handed out instructions for the New Essay Assignment and much to my surprise, the students ALL felt confident tackling the prompt. This is something that we have done on various levels throughout the year- so I was so pleased that the paper took very little instruction. Students were excited to share their insights into Macbeth.

Additionally, they were really excited about the seminar- no questions there either. They didn’t need any clarification, and there were no looks of confused despair.

Finally, the test. It is two parts. Part one is quote identification, wherein I supply a quote, and they tell me who said it. Part two gives them five chunks of text to decode/translate.

The response I got from the students during this chat was unlike any before. No anger. No misery. No confusion. This just goes to show that my routines are finally paying off. They know what my expectations are, because I have been consistent all year. I LOVE this time of year-


Active Engagement:

Students read Act V scene 1 out loud and acted it out. This is the famous scene where Lady Macbeth sleepwalks. We also watched two interpretations of this scene from our two film versions we have been watching. We discussed Lady Macbeth’s moan which is written as “O, o o.” and the following line is “what a sigh is this. The heart is sorely charged.” We discussed the various ways actresses have interpreted this sigh over the years.

This one is their favorite:

For the remaining scenes of the play, I performed a one-man play. I acted out all of the parts, and got the most important information across to them. They thought it was hilarious and fun. I of course, stopped and slowed down to read some of the more famous scenes like Macbeth’s “out brief candle” speech.

They were so surprised to find out that Macbeth dies in the end, and that Lady Macbeth had changed so dramatically. They loved the play!


Students started brainstorming for their essays and asked any questions they had about the play.


Poem A Day:


Today I had two poems- they are two songs that play one right after the other on the new Gorillaz album. The lyrics for both songs are perfect for the scene we read today, and also, the tone of the songs (particularly “Charger”) sets the mood for the scene reading.


Students walked in to a transformed room today. I moved all of their desks, so as to make something akin to a banquet table. I covered the desks with a tablecloth (or several) and put a chair at each head of the giant, long table. It looked something like this:

(I took these pictures four years ago, the last time I taught this lesson at Newtown High School 2013).

It was rad and the students loved it- it really helps to visualize the scene as it can be very confusing to read Act III sc. 4 of the play.

We started today with a banquet and read through Act III scene 4 when Banquo’s ghost came to haunt Macbeth.

Active Engagement:

Students acted the play out and engaged in discussions as we went along.

We read through all of Act IV today- we acted it out, and I summarized sections of lesser importance.


Students asked clarifying questions, and we recapped how the major characters have developed so far.


Poem A Day:

Lyrics for this song are here. 

It captures well Macbeth’s thoughts and feelings just after Duncan’s murder in Act III.


Students reviewed the action of the play up until this point, and I asked them to identify changes in each character. We also discussed Shakespeare’s use of motifs- there are several that are woven through each act of the play:

  • Calling upon darkness to cover up light (or night to swallow the day, etc).
  • Referring to faces as masks that cover men’s true thoughts or desires
  • References to the stars


Active Engagement:

Students acted out Act III scenes 1-3

Then we watched this film portion of the play.


Students took notes on the development of their chosen theme thus far. I reminded students who had signed up for the extra-credit poem a day activity to send me their poems before our next class.




Poem A Day:


I teach in Connecticut. And, although this winter was not as brutal as ones I have experienced here in the past, it is still a big deal that today it is 79 degrees outside! It has been a cold, rainy April and Spring has kept its distance, only dragging out our longing for summer’s warmth.

Today is also 4/28. For a plethora of reasons, four hundred and twenty eight has always been my favorite number. Since I was a kid.

To top it all off, it is the culmination of our poetry week- so at the end of the day, I am taking my class to see a school-wide poetry slam of original, student poetry! How exciting!

So, today we are going to have fun!

Active Engagement:

I am taking the kids outside, to enjoy the glory of the day. We will begin Act II and the kids can run around and act things out. We finished Act II this way.

It is nice to be a mom of three boys, because I have endless toy swords at my disposal. I brought one in today to act as the dagger Macbeth sees at the end of Act II scene i.


Students will be bringing their books (the play) their notebooks and a pen outside. Toward the end of class, students will reflect in their notebooks.

Why does Shakespeare write Duncan’s murder off stage?

Who is more practical after the killing, Macbeth or his wife? Can you think of reasons for this?




Poem A Day:

These lyrics are so great for today’s lesson, that this is another one that we will listen to again at the end of the class.


Today we started out by acting out the very quick and small scene 6 in Act 1.

Then, when we got to Act 7, I gave the students this close reading activity.

We went through together as a class and filled the boxes on the right with all the reasons Macbeth is giving for NOT WANTING TO KILL DUNCAN.

Then, I ask students what they think he will do-

Naturally, they say “He won’t do it.”

Active Engagement:

Next, I ask them how many times Macbeth says the words “kill” or “murder.” They look over the passage, and notice that he says it ZERO times.

So, I gave them a competition (nothing kids love more lol).

Find as many euphemisms for Murder as you can- the most wins. The most any student found was 16. That is a lot!

Then, I read the passage aloud again, and had the students say “murder” aloud every time I read a euphemism. This is too fun. Basically, it sounds like kids saying murder, en masse, over and over again. Some euphemisms include: “taking off” “the deed” etc.

Then we discussed the difference between what he says and the way he says it- or how his word choice reveals his true desires.


For poetry week, students made found poems from the Macbeth text.

FullSizeRender (1).jpgWe also listened to Rhianna’s “Disturbia” again, and it blew their minds- students saw the song in a whole new light following this lesson.






Poem A Day:

For today’s class, I am the poem a day.

So this one is not for everyone- lol. But if you are into drama, then this lesson is for you!

I never wear makeup. It’s a thing. No one talks about it. No one notices. But, when you put a bunch of dark lipstick and eyeliner on, kids notice.

My students walked into a creepy world today. I was sitting in the middle of the room, on a chair, in full costume. This was playing on my smartboard in the background.

The students, were super creeped out and excited! I cannot tell you how much fun it was to see their reactions. They said things like:

Oh my god!

What is happening!?

Ms. Minto is ridiculous

This is my life.

English class is my life

This is the best day ever

I, personally, love to get a rise out of students, who can be a dangerous mix of lethargic and cynical these days.

Once the bell rang, and the song on the smartboard ended, I arranged for a student from another class to enter the room, and hand me a letter. He told me it was a letter from Macbeth.

The students got quiet.

And I read Macbeth’s letter aloud.

And then, I performed Lady Macbeth’s monologue from Act I scene 5 from memory.


We reviewed the action of the play up until scene 5. Then students tried to figure out what just happened in front of them.

Active Engagement:

I gave students this handout which asks them to attempt to decode the scene I performed for them. I had them work in partners to write the gist of each chunk of text.

Then as a class, we went through together to piece it all together.

Then we watched three different film interpretations of this scene of Lady Macbeth.


It is poetry week at our school, so for that, students wrote haikus about Lady Macbeth. They captured her well, which leads me to believe they “got it”.