Review: MacBeth E-Guide by Progeny Press

We are Shakespeare fans at our house.  The stories are compelling, the characters are complex, the language is to die for.  Plus, I have enough high school students at home to pass out roles and have a reader's theater whenever we study Shakespeare!

However, we've found that we get much more out of our Shakespeare studies when we have help.  Enter the MacBeth E-Guide by Progeny Press!

This high-school level study guide is divided naturally into pre-reading information and activities, one section each for the 5 acts of the play, an overview section, and a final writing assignment section.  There is also a page of Additional Resources that lists other plays by Shakespeare, some books about Shakespeare, and some videos (after all, a play is meant to be seen).

Studies for each act includes vocabulary, a quotation to unscramble and identify, "General" questions (basic comprehension of facts and events), "Analysis" questions, "Dig Deeper" questions, and "Extra Activities."

Designed for a single student to work independently (within a family, the copyright grants permission to make as many copies as needed), over a period of 8-10 weeks, the study guide includes space to answer questions.  The downloaded study guide is interactive, allowing a student the ability to fill in answers directly to the computer.

When you click on the arrow next to each number, a drop down menu of choices opens up.  Simply select the correct answer right on the computer!

No printing necessary!

And by working on the computer, the space available for writing (the vast majority of the questions are open-ended) automatically increases if the student needs more than the visible space.

For the "Extra Activities" and essays, though, a student will need to write outside of the actual study guide--in both digital and print formats.

After debating various ways of assigning the work within our family, we opted to work as a group during a teen MacBeth study intensive.

I printed (I love to hold the guide in my hands) a single copy of the study guide and the answer key (it helps a lot!) and bound them together at home.  I purchased enough copies of MacBeth for myself and my 4 teens, and we began with reading the play synopsis and and basic information included in the study guide.  We opted out of the pre-reading activities (even though they were interesting and varied--map-making, report-writing, and video-watching were among the choices) and dove into reading the actual play.

There are no lesson plans included.  The teacher/student needs to decide how much work to do each day.  Otherwise the E-Guide is "open-and-go."  Simply work through the play and the questions in the order given.  When enrichment activities are offered, select which ones to complete and then complete them!

Progeny Press intends for a guide to be completed over an 8-10 week period.

But we did it in 7 days. :)

Because we didn't do anything but MacBeth.

That's an intensive, after all.

I appreciated both the study guide questions and the answer key as resources to help us dig into the themes of the play and make us aware of some of the ideas that we'd have missed on our own.  As with any resource, we answered some of the questions perfunctorily, but some of them led us to long, interesting discussions.

Oh!  How I enjoyed discussing Shakespeare with my teens!

The study guide introduces literary terms within the framework of the play--not separately as a list of vocabulary words.  This makes the literary terms more memorable than they would be otherwise, and having the definitions present in the moment makes the requested discussion more accessible.

I did assign my teens some of the enrichment activities to complete on their own, and some of them we did as a group.  My favorite was a creative activity demonstrating "pathetic fallacy" (defined in the study guide).

Pixie's project

Super Star's project

In the end, I asked my crew what they thought of our study of MacBeth.  My four teens gave four thumbs up and asked when we'd do our next play.

I've already been shopping at Progeny Press to select our next Shakespeare study guide!

To see what other crew members think about Progeny Press study guides/interactive E-guides (and they're not all about MacBeth--you can check out reviews about guides for lower elementary, upper elementary,  and middle school level students, too), click here or on the banner below.


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