I had such a good teaching day yesterday. One of the elements that made it great was putting into practice an idea I got from Germana, a friend/colleague I talked to at the VATE review day between sessions. We talked about how to make the study of Macbeth real for the students and she mentioned that she had had her students get into groups and plan how they would stage the murder of King Duncan. In the play this occurs off stage, but asking students to think about how Macbeth would hold the dagger, with what demeanour he enters the room, his body language during the event and what he does just afterwards requires students to interpret Macbeth’s character and complex motivations and emotions during this critical time in the narrative. I brought in a gold crown (made very artistically by Rachel, a student teacher at our school), and a richly purple royal robe for King Duncan to wear (even though he is asleep) and two daggers (according to the play when Macbeth comes to Lady Macbeth after the murder he has two daggers in his hands). There were three groups giving us their interpretation yesterday and they were all different. In one the murder was committed tentatively; Macbeth couldn’t even face Duncan but attacked him from behind as he lay asleep. The next group had Macbeth enter the room confidently and do the murder quickly and take the crown and bring it straight to Lady Macbeth. The third group had Macbeth played by two students – one reluctant and pulling away, the other taking the hand of the first and guiding his hand to commit the murder. The different interpretations showed that students had engaged with the text and presented a reading consistent with the text, which highlighted one or other aspects of the complexity. When talking to the students afterwards I saw that it really helped change the students to appreciate the text more. Thank you Germana.
The next lesson was with Year 12 English students who have started their preparation for the school-assessed coursework in Responding to Media Texts. We were in the computer room and I had given them some websites to look at that had to do with the issue the students are exploring: the Tourism Australia’s “bloody hell” ad campaign. To help them reflect on their learning I set up a class blog on Learner Blogs and each of the students set up their own blogs for exploring and reflecting on their learning. It was so easy. Only one student didn’t know what a blog was. The interesting thing is the metacognition that goes into choosing a name for their blog which shows why they think they’re doing blogging in the first place. I was excited by the potential of blogging with year 12 students and will let you know how it goes. Each time I introduce it to a new class it gets easier for me and I reflect here on my own learning. It seems so natural now that the students have a space where they can write informally on the subject matter and thinking that they are engaged in during the day, and when the excitement and social aspect of learning moves into the more reflective place of thinking about their learning that they should have a place to do it that is connected to their classmates asynchronously. In this way the conversation can continue but perhaps at a deeper level than is available in the ‘hurly burly’ of the classroom.