Progeny Press is a business run by homeschoolers Michael and Rebecca Gilleland, who “believe in looking at the world clearly and openly with the Bible firmly in hand,” and want to assist other homeschoolers in educating in the same manner. For more than 20 years, their focus has been on creating Christian-based study guides to be used alongside classic literature. We had the opportunity to review the E-guide they created for Macbeth by William Shakespeare.
The Progeny Press E-guides cover literature for children in grades first through third (lower elementary); grades third through fifth (upper elementary); and grades ninth through twelfth (high school). They also carry additional resources for students.
The Macbeth E-guide is part of the ninth through twelfth grade studies and is written by Michael S. Gilleland. The guide includes a synopsis of Macbeth and a brief biography on Shakespeare. There are also some suggested pre-reading activities like reading applicable Bible verses and writing a one to two page summary of the verses; mapping the locations the reader “visits” in the play and watching a video of the Highlands and monuments or castles in Scotland to familiarize them with the setting of the play. There is even a suggestion for the student to write favorite phrases or passages they find while reading the play. I think this is great, because Macbeth, as all Shakespeare plays, delve into the character if humankind; the good, bad and sometimes really ugly as they will see in Macbeth.
The study guide covers all five acts of Macbeth:
Each section includes:
Vocabulary – He chose a word from the list that most appropriately completed the sentences.
Scrambled Quotation – He had to figure out the quotation from the play.
General Questions – General questions about events in the play.
Analysis – Looking at different scenarios from the play, he was to explain what each passage meant.
Dig Deeper – More questions are asked, but the student pulls from his ideas and relates himself more to the events in the play. Some of his responses depended on verses he was assigned to read in the Bible.
Progeny Press suggests the student read the literature book or play in its entirety before completing the E-guide. In the past we have used the literature guides both ways; read the book/play completely and read the chapters/sections and completed the guide portion for those chapters. River used the Macbeth E-guide reading the selected acts and then completed the guide portion.
This is the first Progeny Press E-guide we have used for reading through a play. It was a different kind of read and I think the themes (ex: greed, corruption, crime, etc.) introduced in Macbeth are mature and ones that led to great conversation. River met Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, Banquo and the three Witches. Of course, let us not forget MacDuff, who inevitably saves the day. I enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the lures of temptation, how greed can destroy ones soul and other themes in the life of Macbeth.
Patience is virtue and Lady Macbeth failed to realize the benefit of waiting her turn. She was just a little too eager to hold the crown (become queen). Along with her spineless husband, Macbeth, she conspired to murder Duncan in order to hasten the process of becoming queen. It is all right to wait. Greed usually leads to one’s downfall. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely, especially when the power is gained through evil means.” Basically, it is not nice to kill people.
I like the interactive features that are included in all levels of E-guides that allow students to key their answers to the exercise using a computer. It saves on printing the pages and also gives your student (especially high school) a chance to use his typing/keyboarding skills. I think that feature made the work less tedious for River, because he liked not having to write his responses. The work was heavier as he progressed through the play. I also like the inclusion of biblical content, because he was able to gain perspective on the story using the Bible as a guide.
I do not think any student should complete high school without reading a work by Shakespeare
The Macbeth E-Guide also includes Final Essays and Project Ideas, from which we will choose once he finishes the play. Additional resources of other titles by Shakespeare, which we will definitely read, are suggested.
Overall, Progeny Press E-Guides provide a thorough comprehensive experience with literature that goes way beyond just reading the book from over to cover.
The Macbeth E-Guide is $21.99.