Much Ado About Macbeth

 In her sophomore English class, Upper School English teacher Jennifer McEachern discovered a way to teach Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” in both an interesting and novel way.

McEachern and Greenhill English teacher Joel Garza real­ized they would be teaching their classes Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” during the months of February, March and April, and decided to integrate the two classes.

“We are trying to keep it simple,” McEachern said, “but if we can find ways to connect the students, then it will make the learning more relevant and more exciting for them.”

McEachern’s students read the first act of “Macbeth” in Feb­ruary and created a podcast that they sent to Greenhill. Included were discussion questions that remained after the students’ in-class discussions.

The freshman English class at Greenhill took these questions from Hockaday and used them in their own discussions. In turn, they responded with their own discus­sion questions and podcast for act three of “Macbeth.”

In an interview in early March, McEachern said that she planned to use Greenhill’s stu­dents’ questions and podcasts for her class’ Socratic Seminar, which took place after spring break. Socratic Seminar is a method of teaching in which stu­dents opinions are discussed and analyzed with other students.

When her class got to the seminar, McEachern thought it was cool to “play their ques­tions and say ‘here are what the Greenhill students have to say, what do you think about their thoughts and what do you have to add on to that?’”

Benjamin Stromberg, a freshman at Greenhill, said that the questions sent to them were very helpful for discussions.

“We were able to think of many new ideas, or nuances in the ideas we were already pursu­ing,” said Stromberg, “questions from Hockaday got us to re-eval­uate the role of the witches, and the relationship between their introduction at the beginning of the play and the concept that Macbeth’s and Lady Macbeth’s actions were controlled or fated”

Stromberg has found this new way of teaching very help­ful. Hearing from other classes, he said, allows them to look at things from a different view, and he hopes “they continue to do these types of integrated classes.”

Garza is pleased with the plan he and McEachern have set and has enjoyed watching how this collaborating has played out.

“For my students, this kind of collaboration provides a break from the usual roles that they play in a yearlong class,” he said. “At the level of writing, each campus provides for the other campus an authentic audience. My students really bring their ‘A’ game when they know that Hockaday students are listening and reading their work.”

– Gretchen O’ Brien