Saturday, 13 April 2013

Tweeting Macbeth

I went into the Macbeth unit knowing full well that students in general don't enjoy reading Shakespeare.  I remembered that Danika Barker, (@DanikaBarker), a teacher with Thames Valley DSB had her students tweet Hamlet.  You can read about her project  here.  After scouring Danika's online resources, I decided that I was going to try this out.

My ultimate reason for undertaking this project was to engage students in the play.  (Also, in a survey at the beginning of the semester, a student suggested tweeting Macbeth.)   It would be a familiar way for most students to engage in a language that is unfamiliar.

We are still working our way through the play, so these are just my preliminary thoughts.

I am finding "Tweet Mac" to be an informal way to gauge the students' understanding.  For example, one character tweeted that Macbeth shouldn't have killed Duncan, his father.  Clearly, that student is unclear about some of the basic facts of the play.  It is my job to now clarify this misunderstanding with the class.

I started out by opening up Twitter accounts for each of the characters in Macbeth.  Before I did this, I read over Twitter's terms and conditions and I couldn't find any clause disallowing the creation of "dummy" accounts, like Facebook has.  It is incredibly tedious to open 30 Twitter accounts.  I did this over the span of three weeks, as I could only do three or so in a row without going crazy.  I didn't want the students to open the accounts themselves, because I wanted to maintain control.  This way, I can also reuse the accounts when my future students learn Macbeth.

In preparation for "Tweet Mac", I asked students to bring their own Internet devices to class with them, if possible.  I also brought in iPads for the students who couldn't bring in a device.  I think we were successfully one-to-one that day.  Here is a copy of the task sheet:  Tweeting Macbeth.  (I realized that I forgot the Porter and the Old Man.)  Students spent the period playing around with Twitter and researching their assigned character.

Some students have really taken to "Tweet Mac" and tweet frequently and outside of school. As is expected, some haven't tweeted at all.  I have discovered that I need to set aside some time a couple of days a week (10 minutes at the end of class) dedicated to tweeting.  While it is disappointing that some students aren't participating, I'm not letting it get me down, because I think it is almost impossible to engage an entire class.

You can view this list to see the tweets. Or you can check out the Storify of the tweets thus far.  It is here, most recent tweet to oldest.

My next attempt to make Macbeth interesting is The Great Meme Challenge of 2013.  After a passage analysis summative, of course.

1 comment:

  1. Way to go, Sarah! Don't be too concerned about the students who aren't as interested in tweeting. I found the most valuable part of the whole process was the discussion students had about what to tweet. I used that as a way to get in some really focused discussions about the play. We worked on a scene/act together and then they got into small groups to discuss what they would tweet.