Over the years, a favorite resource tool in our homeschooling adventure has been Progeny Press study guides. This year my high schoolers are using the Macbeth E-Guide as they study this Shakespearean classic.
As my children got older I began searching for something to help guide our study of literature and take us deeper into what they were reading and studying. The study guides from Progeny Press do just that, in a way that is understandable, interesting and enjoyable. Until I found this company, I figured I would never be able to ‘teach’ Shakespeare to my kids.
While helping my children and I dig deeper into quality literature, I appreciate the publishers at Progeny Press also have the underlying goals “To teach our children to think clearly, to understand literature, and to rely on the scripture for truth and values, and enjoy themselves while they do it!”
For this review we received a downloadable e-guide that is both printable and interactive. The full e-guide (study guide) for Shakespeare’s Macbeth was included and allowed us to print or use. You can also choose from a bound workbook or a cd that contains the full study guide in pdf format.
As the teacher of my homeschool, the company gives me permission to print a copy for each of my students, so I only needed to purchase one copy. How wonderful is that?! That makes even easier to purchase the rest of the guides we’ll need to round out our English credit for this school year.
In the study guide there are introductory sections for the teacher full of helpful tips and background information. For Macbeth there was also a section on how to use and teach Shakespeare’s plays. This was especially helpful to me and to my children. Their recommendations for finding an edition of the play that was user friendly were invaluable!
Other introduction sections include a general synopsis of the play, information about the author, suggestions for pre-activities to make the literature study more interesting and applicable.
The bulk of the e-guide is included in the sections for each Act. A novel might be divided into chapters, but being a play, Macbeth is divided into ‘Acts.’ For each Act there are:
- Vocabulary – this is an important section. Shakespearean English is not the same as American English! Having these activities makes it fun and memorable.
- Scrambled Quote – we love word games. This short activity is helpful when it comes to sentence structure, especially when dealing with Shakespeare!
- General Questions – a handful of questions to get the student thinking.
- Analysis – looking at plot development and characterizations, style and dialog. I am very pleased I do not have to come up with these points all on my own.
- Dig Deeper – this section gives my children the chance to think about how the story line and characters is true to life, or not. How does it affect their lives or how should they react to what is presented. This sections helps them wrestle with their own worldview.
- Discussion Questions – what should we take away from each Act, each character? Having these questions as the beginning of our discussions gives the students freedom to share their own insights and opinions.
- Extra Activities – there’s always more we can learn and there are multiple ways to learn. Several ideas are added for further study and/or hands-on activities. They can be used exactly as mentioned or as a springboard for your own inspirations.
What you’ll need:
First, a printed copy of the study guide or the interactive e-guide for each student to record their answers and lessons. I also recommend the teacher (that’s you, mom!) have a copy of their own as well. You will also need a copy of the play. For Macbeth, the publisher gives their recommendations on which printed edition they feel is best. With many to choose from and because the language and format in Shakespearean plays can be difficult to read, we really appreciated this. It is available on their website or your favorite bookstore. One copy for each person doing this study is best, but sharing a copy will work.
Also recommended was a dramatized audio version of the same edition we were using. This is not required, but very helpful in making the play come alive. We found both the printed and dramatized versions through our local library. , the team at Progeny Press recommends the FOLGER Shakespeare Library and I am impressed with these- other editions were not as easy to use, especially since we are Shakespeare novices.
How we use it:
We chose to print a copy of the e-guide for each of us (my 11th grade daughter, 10th grade son and myself) and bind them in a 3-prong folder. Before beginning the study, we discussed the information in the introduction and background sections, looked closer at the format and structure of the Shakespeare play and then started in with the lessons.
In general, each of my kids reads the next Act in full, then begins working the assignments. As they work on each section they re-visit, review, re-read through that Act to find the appropriate answer or response. At the end of each week we come together to discuss our ideas and thoughts and as the teacher, I read more thoroughly what they are answering on their pages.
Ideally, Macbeth should be read outloud with each of us taking different parts. It’s a play! That makes the words on the page come alive and the whole scenario come together and make sense. The reader can more fully appreciate the plot and characters. Because of the timing of the review period and the beginning of our school year I let my children jump in and get going more independently. Now that things are settling, we’ll be reading out loud together each week and having more face-to-face discussions.
What we think:
The story of Macbeth is one of power and intrigue. He chooses to kill Duncan, the king of Scotland in order to become king himself. You can imagine all the ins and outs that go along with a scenario like that. Lady Macbeth was instrumental in helping her husband and we meet three witches who prophesy that Macbeth will become king. As these characters take destiny into their own hands we can take a look within our own selves to see how we might react.
Because my own family tree has roots in Scotland we are enjoying learning more about the history and culture. Thanks to the recommended activities and resources, it’s been easy to find videos and other resources for this.
The lessons are thorough and take us deeper into the discussions and issues present in Macbeth. The questions and activities provide a bridge between us so we can share our thoughts, ideas and opinions with one another. Plus the chance to ‘perform’ a little Shakespeare right in our own living room is a terrific bonus!
The study guide gives enough material for 8 to 10 weeks, giving my high school students 1/4 credit. To earn a full high school English credit will use four different e-guides to fill out the year. They have some really terrific options! You might choose a certain time period, or decide on British Lit or American Lit, or like us choose Shakespeare plays. You could also go for the eclectic route, picking and choosing a variety. I love flexibility and with a homeschooling lifestyle these e-guides are a perfect fit.
Progeny Press makes it easy to include literature study in your high schooler’s English course, but they have a huge selection of study guides for all ages and grade levels. Whether your student is ready for Macbeth or just getting ready for Charlotte’s Web, you’ll find their resources are an excellent choice to round out your curriculum.
My Review Crew Mates are reviewing several different eGuides besides Macbeth. To see them all or visit the ones the spark your interest visit them by clicking on the image below!