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Are you looking to inspire and engage your students during a unit on The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare? Check out this teacher guide with valuable ways to create visual Storyboards that incorporate all four ELA Common Core standards with your class!
By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!
A Quick Synopsis of The Tragedy of Macbeth (Contains Plot Spoilers)
The Tragedy of Macbeth is one of William Shakespeare's best-known works. The shortest (and one of the bloodiest) of Shakespeare's tragedies, the story begins with victory and honors for the brave Scottish general, Macbeth. The play follows Macbeth's descent from noble soldier to nefarious traitor.
As the play begins, Macbeth receives a prophecy from three witches that, one day, he will become King. This prediction inevitably consumes him with ambition and greed. Macbeth is further lead down his treacherous path by his wife, Lady Macbeth, who urges him to murder King Duncan and seize the throne without hesitation. Having done so, and ascended to the throne, Macbeth is consumed by guilt and fear. He becomes tyrannical, paranoid, and suspicious. He resorts to killing others to secure his place, and, as the bloodbath continues, this drives Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to arrogance, madness, and their eventual deaths.
Macbeth’s good friend, Banquo also was also given a prophecy by the witches. They said that, although Banquo would never be a king, he would produce a line of kings. Banquo accepted this fate with patience while Macbeth took action against Banquo and his son, Fleance.
Macbeth is not Shakespeare’s most complex play, but it is one of his most thrilling and emotionally intense. Shakespeare’s other major tragedies explore the intellectual dilemmas faced by the characters, while Macbeth meteorically rises and plummets from beginning to end.
Essential Questions For Macbeth:
How does ambition motivate people, as both a positive and negative trait?
When do you feel guilt, and when do you experience remorse?
To what extent, and in what ways does power affect a person's actions?
[ELA-Literacy/RL/11-12/2] Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text
[ELA-Literacy/RL/11-12/3] Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed)
[ELA-Literacy/RL/11-12/5] Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact
A common activity using Storyboard That is for students to create a diagram of the five act structure to show the sequence of events from the play. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of a plot, but also to reinforce major actions from the play and help students develop a greater understanding of literary structures. Read more about the five act structure in our article!
Act 1: The Exposition
The play takes place in Scotland.
A war is ending. The Scottish general, Macbeth, and his faithful friend, Banquo, have emerged victorious. However, three witches have brewed an evil plot against Macbeth and when they meet him, they tell him that he will be King! “We shall tell Macbeth he will be Thane and King! As for Banquo, he will have kings!”
Act 2: Rising Action
Macbeth and his wife kill the King and take the throne. They go on a tyrannical killing spree. The action rises as the audience sees how ambitious Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have become.
“How can I be king someday?” “Macbeth, we had to Kill King Duncan, and we will have to kill others to keep our place on the throne!”
Act 3: The Climax
Macbeth holds a banquet and sees the ghost of Banquo (who Macbeth had killed). Lady Macbeth becomes mentally unstable, and the couple begins to fear the consequences of their murderous deeds.
Act 4: Falling Action
A rebellion is instigated by Macduff to restore the throne to Duncan's exiled son.
Macbeth learns another set of prophecies from the witches and begins to think he will be saved.
Act 5: Denouement or Resolution
The three witches’ predictions come true, and the castle is stormed. Macbeth is killed.
[ELA-Literacy/RL/11-12/10] By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of the grades 11-CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently
[ELA-Literacy/W/11-12/6] Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information
[ELA-Literacy/SL/11-12/5] Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest
As students read, a storyboard can serves as a helpful character reference log. This log (also called a character map) allows students to recall relevant information about important characters. When reading a play, small attributes and details frequently become important as the plot progresses. With character mapping, students will record this information, helping them follow along and catch the subtleties which make reading more enjoyable!
Using a character map for Shakespeare is often even more beneficial. It also allows students to record the nuances of characteristics which create "foil" characters. The information that they record will help them to return and review personalities that contrast. The ability to visually see this helps students create connections and makes understanding concepts easier.
You can click on this map and create a copy on your teacher account. Feel free to use it as is, or to edit it for the level of your class. Printing it as worksheets, for your students to complete while reading, is an fast and easy way to incorporate this character map into your classroom.