As part of our Macbeth unit of work we have been working through this Macbeth Revision workbook and I have to admit I have been really impressed with it. I like the layout, it just works. It refreshes the kids existing knowledge, deepens their understanding and then gives them time to practice answering exam style questions. It is everything you need in one workbook. And it is the kind of workbook that I really want to find for our IGCSE English literature books (I am still searching for those).
First impressions on just paging through the book after we got it – I liked the simple fact that this workbook is NOT aimed at a specific exam board. This workbook is about understanding Macbeth regardless of which exam board you are using. And the second thing that struck me straight away was the answers for the questions are Free to download from the OUP website (I really wish more places would do this with answers). As soon as I saw that I actually went and printed out all the answers so we had them ready to use as we worked through the activities. For those interested, the photo below shows some activities under the Macduff section and you see the relevant answers are next to it.
So basic structure of this workbook. It starts with a 2 page overview of the play. And actually it is a brilliant 2 page summary of the play. Then the workbook is split into two main sections – characters and themes. And finally there is a useful glossary at the very back.
The character section of the book is split into five chapters for the five main characters (Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, The Witches, Banquo and Macduff). I was really impressed with how each character is broken down and how the questions build up (they really do cover each character in a lot of detail).
Each character chapter starts with a knowledge recap including quotes and key events linked to the character throughout the play. I really liked that each character starts with this summary about the character, it is a “remind the kids” type summary before they start tackling the questions about the character. Then you get the activities which are really smaller/shorter questions aimed at deepening the kids understanding about the character and events linked to that character. These activities are brilliant – they look at the language used by Shakespeare and often include quotes. The activities follow the chronological order of the play, so the first activity will be based on when you first meet the character and the last activity will be based on the final scene featuring that character. They really do include a lot in these questions. We are using this workbook as a revision workbook, by that I mean we are working through it after we have read the entire play but if you wanted too you could actually link the character activities to the play as you were reading it and complete all the activities linked to a scene as you read that scene.
Then after the activity questions finish you get a couple of questions which are exam practice questions – questions that help the kids practice structuring a longer written answer. This section, starts with an easier “Writing with support” question – which is really a stepping stone for the kids, then they include a student answer and discuss why it is a good answer and finally there is a harder “try it yourself” question. So the kids are NOT just asked write to an exam question discussing ………. they are actually guided, shown steps and shown a good exemplar. This is really useful for independent learners (by that I mean kids either home educating or who are trying to work through this book by themselves at home).
The character section was very thorough, and covered all the points that I wanted to it (plus a few extra that I had not really focused on). I liked the way they set up each character with the summary, then the shorter activities, followed by the how to structure long answers.
The second half of the book looks at themes – Ambition, Power and Kingship, Death and Violence, Suffering and Guilt, Deception and finally Evil and the Supernatural. We actually have not started this section yet as we are focusing on the characters and still wrapping that up (we are going through Macbeth in quite a lot of detail). But the way each theme chapter is structured is the same as the characters. First a knowledge recap which includes quotes and key events, the activities in a chronological order and then the longer exam-type practice questions which again are split into three – the writing with support, and example of a student’s answer and try it yourself question. The exact same format as the character section and after reading through the activities and questions it is just as thorough and just as useful.
I really do like this workbook – they include recaps and summaries, activities that make you think and questions that help you practice structuring answers. It really is a good workbook for anyone studying Macbeth.
Admin – the Macbeth Revision book was given to us by Oxford University Press in a small box of English resources. Which resources we chose to use and write reviews on was up to us. This is NOT a paid for review
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