Sunday, November 16, 2014

Teaching Macbeth: Book Covers and Poem Activity

We've been studying Macbeth in both my 9th/10th and 11th/12th grade English classes. The highlight of our unit was absolutely our trip to the Shakespeare Tavern in Atlanta to see a production of Macbeth, which I detail here. We did a lot of reading—and acting out— scenes aloud, which I'll detail in a different post. But I love this activity I had my 9th and 10th graders do.

Here's the assignment and a few of their amazing designs and/or poems below. (The "I Am" poem idea is not mine. I found it in multiple places on the internet, so I don't know whom to give credit to.)

The Assignment:

Your assignment is to design a book cover for Macbeth. There are two parts to this assignment.

1. Design a book cover. Your front cover should be amazing. You can depict a vivid scene from Macbeth or use a collage of images that best illustrate the play, or you can focus on an image or one character. This is really up to you: what best illustrates Macbeth to you? Think about colors, symbols from the play, significant words or phrases, etc.

You can draw, paint, make a collage of pictures, etc. You should also include the title and author. You may NOT use a Macbeth cover that is directly taken from the internet. You may download a picture and incorporate it into your book cover, but you cannot use only that picture or cover. In other words, there is no shortage of Macbeth illustrations on the internet. You can model your book cover on one of those, or use that picture somehow on your cover; but don’t just use a picture only without some of your creative modifications.

You can make your cover out of construction paper, regular computer paper, butcher paper, etc. This should be around 8 X 12.

DO NOT merely scribble something in pencil on notebook paper. You will be graded on the effort that I perceive that you put into this.

2. On the back of your cover, create an “I Am” poem for one of the characters in Macbeth. Use quotes, words, and phrases from the play itself. See below for poem details. You should follow this pattern directly. You can write this directly on the back of your cover, or you can type it on paper and affix it to the back. (You do not need to depict the same character on both front and back. In my example, I used Macbeth on the cover and Lady Macbeth for the poem.)

The Title is the Character’s Name (Lady Macbeth, for example)

I AM (two special characteristics of this character)

I WONDER (something this character is/could be curious about)

I HEAR (a sound this character is hearing)

I SEE (a sight the character is seeing)

I WANT (something the character desires/would desire)

I AM (repeat the first line of the poem)

I PRETEND (something the character pretends or might pretend)

I FEEL (what the character is feeling in the story)

I TOUCH (could be symbolic or real)

I WORRY (something that is bothering the character)

I CRY (what is making the character cry inside/would make him or her cry)

I AM (repeat the first line of the poem)

I UNDERSTAND (something the character feels is true)

I SAY (something the character could or did say)

I DREAM (something the character did or would dream about)

I TRY (something the character is making an effort about)

I HOPE (something the character wants to happen)

I AM (repeat the first line of the poem)

And a few of the results!

As always, I am astonished and delighted at what my students can do! If you use these ideas in your classroom, please leave me a link so I can check out your projects, too!


  1. I just love the Macbeth Book Cover/Poem assignment. The students did a wonderful job. I have been following your blog for about 3 are such an inspiration. If I lived in your area, my son would take your English/writing classes ( I live in South Carolina).

  2. Great suggestions! I'm going to bookmark this for later. Thank you.


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