Shop  |  Calendar  |  Join  |  Buy Tickets  |  Hamnet  |  Site Rental  |  Press Room  
About UsWhat's OnUse the CollectionDiscover ShakespeareTeach & LearnFolger InstituteSupport Us
Teaching Resources
• Teaching Modules
Teaching Modules Archive

   Sign up for E-news!
   Printer Friendly

Macbeth: A Three-Dimensional Approach

Teachers' Rating:
  1 rating


May 2011
Robert L. Harrison is Dean of the College of Professional Studies and Associate Professor of Education at West Virginia State University. He previously taught English at Bluefield High School in Bluefield, WV.  

Plays/Scenes Covered
What's On for Today and Why

The purpose of "Macbeth: A Three Dimensional Approach" is to provide a framework for teaching Macbeth which reviews and builds on student prior knowledge from previous Shakespeare study and provides a cross-curricular approach that incorporates NCTE standards as well as standards in history, music, and theater.


This lesson will take five 60-minute class periods.

What You Need

Folger edition of Macbeth
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts

A complete film version of Shakespeare's Macbeth

A complete film version of Verdi's Macbeth

Holinshed's Chronicles Excerpts (see below)

3 Dimensional Macbeth Essay Rubic (Optional)
3 Dimensional Macbeth Handout 1
Holinshed excerpt 1
Holinshed excerpt 2
Holinshed excerpt 3
What To Do

1. Divide the class into three learning communities. Each community will be responsible for becoming experts on one dimension of Macbeth and for sharing that expertise with their classmates.

  • Learning Community I will explore and become experts on the First Dimension of Macbeth—Holinshed’s Chronicles.
  • Learning Community II will explore and become experts on the Second Dimension of Macbeth—Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
  • Learning Community III will explore and become experts on the Third Dimension of Macbeth—Verdi’s Macbeth.

2. Once the groups are assigned, distributes Handout 1 to each learning community. Over several class periods, each community will study their assigned dimension of Macbeth and complete the appropriate column. Notes for each group should include:

  • A concise summary of the Macbeth story
  • Identification and description of key characters
  • Notes on how Macbeth is staged (those using Holinshed's Chronicles may note how Holinshed describes Scotland)
  • Other notable details on their assigned dimension

3. During their first meeting, each learning community meets should select a team chair who will lead their discussions. However, each student should actively participate in the discussion and completion of their group's portion of Handout 1.  During these meetings, circulate among the student groups and serve as a facilitator/resource person for the learning community. This practice also helps to keep the students on task.


4. Next, each learning community team presents its findings to the rest of the class.  While each team presents the other teams should take notes and complete the grid on Handout 1. During these presentations, teams may present portions of the films of the play and opera versions of Macbeth.  


5. Optional: As an assessment, students may write an essay in which they compare or contrast Holinshed’s Chronicles with Shakespeare’s Macbeth or Shakespeare’s Macbeth with Verdi’s Macbeth.


Note: For performance-based ideas for teaching Macbeth, check out our additional resources in the sidebar. Our "Play by Play" section has additional lesson plans, activities, and teachin tips, and the "32 Second Macbeth" handout allows your students to perform the entire play in less than a minute!

How Did It Go?

Were students able to effectively summarize and present the story, characters, setting or staging, and other notable details from each dimension? Were students able to note key differences between Holinshed, Shakepeare's, and Verdi's interpretation of the Macbeth story?


If you assigned the compare and contrast essay, use the Essay Rubric to assess your students' work.


If you used this lesson, we would like to hear how it went and about any adaptations you made to suit the needs of YOUR students.

Login or register to post comments.

5 CommentsOldest | Newest

sms jokes I have straighten my hair... Even some of the symptoms that should have nothing to do with Iodine have improved: -I have gall stones, and have been experiencing digestive problems
jack November 14, 2014 8:26 AM

Excellent post, went ahead and bookmarked your site. I can’t wait to read more from you. FreeDebtConsolidationQuotes.com
david November 9, 2014 6:30 PM

I feel really happy to have seen your webpage and look forward Home Theater Singer Island to so many more entertaining times reading here. Thanks once more for all the details
jack November 9, 2014 7:21 AM

Like so many others, I was thrilled to hear that both the Duchess of Cambridge and her new son received such excellent care and that the delivery was safe and successful. freebiefollowers
jack November 8, 2014 11:59 AM

Then there are some people that look at college as more of an investment on themselves to open up new opportunities. There are many locations that offer more than just one higher education institution. In the state of Virginia,def
jack November 5, 2014 5:08 AM
  Common Core State Standards

There are no standards associated with this Lesson Plan.
You might also like ...

Teaching Macbeth Resources from Folger Education

32 Second Macbeth


Swords and Shakespeare

Bookmark and Share   
     Copyright & Policies   |   Sitemap   |   Contact Us   |   About This Site
201 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Get directions »

Federal Tax ID #04-2103542
PublicReading Room
10am to 5pm, Monday through Saturday8:45am to 4:45pm, Monday through Friday
12pm to 5pm, Sunday9am to noon and 1pm to 4:30pm, Saturday
Main: 202 544 4600
Box Office: 202 544 7077
Fax: 202 544 4623