I am sad we were unable to have our final performance. Our kids worked so hard all semester, and they were so excited for tonight. Even though we didn’t get a chance to say a proper goodbye and finish out our time together, I think we ended on a good note because our last practice was so great, and we gave them a chance to run through the whole play just like the real performance.

My biggest concern for the final performance was that we wouldn’t have many kids show up. They all seemed excited, and the kids who hadn’t yet turned in their permission slips seemed intent on bringing theirs today so they could still participate. We would have definitely had our Macbeth and Banquo though, so that would have been great for the performance because they were our two strongest actors, and I’m sure everyone would have been entertained by their British accents.

I was also worried that the students wouldn’t pay enough attention and know when they were supposed to be on stage. The final practice we tried to run through the whole thing as we would for the performance, but before each scene, we had to stop and tell them who needed to go on stage. I was nervous we would have to do that and interrupt the flow of the play since a lot of our kids were in scenes back to back, so we couldn’t prepare them for the next scene as they were still acting out the current one.

Overall, I think our kids would have stepped up to the challenge of filling in the roles of their classmates who didn’t come, and though it might have gone a little long, I think our part would have gone pretty smoothly. I’m sad our kids didn’t get to show off how hard they have worked this semester, but I’m glad I got to work with them. It was a great experience.

We had our last practice last night! We took the kids down to the art room after they had some cookies and hot chocolate. We set the room up so chairs surrounded a stage area, so we could run through it completely and give them a better sense for what the actual performance will be like.

We were missing a couple kids, including our Lady Macbeth, but the students stepped up to fill the roles. One girl who had told us she didn’t want a role and then complained the entire time that she didn’t have any lines got to participate last night, and she seemed much happier to be participating. If I were to do the project again, I would try to give everyone at least one line because once we actually started practicing, the kids liked to be involved even if they only had a line or two.

Our group did so well running through the entire thing. They didn’t need much prompting, and some of them were acting things out. Our Macbeth and Banquo are so funny because they both try to talk in British accents and try to be active instead of just standing and reading from the screen. When they entered the scene once, they acted like they were riding on horses without our telling them to. I’ve been so impressed with them throughout this whole time, and I’m excited to see them perform tonight!

At the beginning of the practice, we had promised the kids candy if they were quiet in the audience, and they were so attentive and quiet the entire time. Hopefully they feel prepared for tonight. I’m excited to see how it goes.

After a week off for Thanksgiving, we met again. With the performance two weeks away, we needed to get the kids walking through the play without our prompting. We brought in the props for the witches, including their hats, cauldron and some eyeballs, snakes and bugs to throw into the cauldron.

Our kids seemed excited to get to run through the whole thing and actively pay attention to when they needed to go onstage. Still, we had to prompt them a lot because they would get distracted. Our kids also have a lot of problems turning the pages because they never seem to end up on the right page, so that can also be an issue as they try to follow along.

We got through the whole thing, and next week we’ll try to get them to go through it without any prompting at all. I’m excited to see how it all goes next week, and I hope we have most of our kids show up on the night of the performance.

Last week Higher Achievement hosted a potluck for the students and their families so we didn’t get to work with the kids, but I have been reflecting about the experience over the past week. I had low expectations for how excited they would be about it from the beginning, but I have been blown away by how enthusiastic the kids always seem to be when we come. Especially since we come at the end of a very long day, the kids have been awesome about still being energetic and still giving us their attention.

I think of how much they’ve improved too. At the beginning, they constantly stumbled over Shakespeare’s language, but now, they have a much better grasp on it. They may not be perfect, but they’ve impressed me with how far they’ve come. We have a Macbeth who speaks his lines in a British accent and many different witch voices, and I’m excited to try to get them to act a little more in the next couple weeks before the performance so when the night comes, they can impress everyone else just as they’ve impressed me.

The kids were a little wild on Thursday. It was difficult trying to get them to sit down and focus. We played Bullfrog again, which is a big hit with them, and then we split off into groups to work on specific scenes.

The tough thing about Macbeth is that other than the witch scenes, most of the scenes are just people standing around talking, so it can be hard to tell the kids how to act it out. I tried to explain the scene a little more as they went, so they would know what they were saying and give them suggestions about who to face when they talked or small gestures that could emphasize what they were saying. Like I said, the kids were unfocused today so working with one specific person at a time caused the rest to scatter and run around.

Overall though I think it was good to have the kids up and actually acting out their lines because the show is coming up quickly. Hopefully we can do better about keeping everyone engaged as everyone learns their roles and we have to spend less time on kids individually. Everyone still seems pretty excited about the play though, so hopefully that continues as we go.

We had another great week with the kids. Today the kids said they wanted to play Charades instead of Bullfrog so we went with it. It was a good way to get them to try to act something else, but a lot of them seemed embarrassed to participate even though they wanted to play in the first place. I think that happens a lot with our group because we have a group of girls who have formed a little clique that doesn’t really buy into what we’re doing, which was especially difficult today.

We were doing a run-through to try to get the kids used to Shakespeare’s language and reading their lines. Most of these girls only have small roles (a couple lines or even just a non-speaking part) because they said from the beginning that they didn’t want lines. Because of this, they’re not as involved in what we’re doing, and they can be huge distractions to the other kids. In the future, we’ll need to work on trying to keep them more engaged by splitting them up and working in smaller groups.

Other than that, this week went well. We cut down the script a lot before this week, and everyone seems to be much more comfortable with their lines now that there aren’t huge blocks of text. Next week we’ll try to be more active and get the kids to start acting out their parts.

The kids were excited going into today because we told them we would assign roles. We started off by playing an improv game called Space Jump. The point of the game was that one person would start acting out what they’d do in a certain scenario, and then one of us would yell, “Space Jump!” and another person would get up an join them. A couple of the boys really enjoyed it and kept trying to jump into the scenes, but for the most part, the kids didn’t really seem to get it. Maybe next week we should try a simpler activity that can get them all up and active at the same time.

Assigning parts went pretty well. Everyone seemed content with their lines. We started a run-through where everyone got to actually read their lines. All the witches are doubled up, so we’ll have to work with them to get them to read their lines together while still getting to use their fun witch voices. We also have a Macbeth who loves to read in a British accent. They seem excited to finally be settling down into set roles, and a lot of them were even asking to take the script home so they could practice, which was encouraging and a reminder that they are actually enjoying it.

We realized our script is too long, but we should be able to cut it down some more to stay in our allotted time. The kids seem really excited to continue practicing so I’m excited for next week!

Our goal for this week was to start gauging the kid’s reading levels and what parts they were interested so we could assign parts next week. We started off with Two Truths and a Lie as our game at the beginning. Some of the kids didn’t really seem to grasp the point of the game, and they seemed distracted so it didn’t go so well. Maybe next week we should try a more interactive game to get them up and moving.

We split into groups to continue reading through the play. I had a group of five girls, and we took turns reading parts and then pausing to explain what was happening. They seemed interested in understanding what was going on, but I could tell I started to lose them towards the end. I tried mixing it up by having them all pretend to be witches, but I think they were too tired at the end of the day to really try it. Hopefully next week they’ll be more eager when we actually assign their parts.

This week we were more prepared with what to expect when we walked into Boushall. This time we had a couple more kids, but I don’t think we lost any, which was encouraging that they didn’t switch out of our elective. We quickly did names again before jumping in.

We started with a game called Bullfrog where the kids get to die dramatically when the bullfrog sticks their tongue out at them. They really loved this game, but it was hard to keep them quiet once they had “died.” We’ll probably have to play that one again in the future because I had kids asking me about it for the rest of the time.

We then had them tell us about what they remembered learning about Macbeth. I was surprised with how much they remembered and all the little details they told us from the video we watched last week. Then we split off into groups to start reading through the play.

At first we would read through a scene and then I would explain it to them afterwards, but that seemed to lose their attention quickly. I switched to explaining each line after it was read, and they responded much better to that. They asked some really good questions about the play like why the sons of Duncan didn’t automatically become king, and they seem really interested in the whole thing. I’m excited to see how they do when we assign parts and get them to start acting out the lines.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when we walked into Boushall last Thursday. I have never worked with Higher Achievement before so I didn’t know how it was organized, and we didn’t know how many kids we would have. We had heard from the other Higher Achievement group that they had a huge group of kids, so we were all nervous to end up with thirty kids instead of the fifteen they had predicted we would have.

Our kids arrived, and we took them down to the art room to get started. I was surprised how enthusiastic the kids were when we told them we would be doing Shakespeare. Some of them had their reservations, but for the most part, they seemed to all be on board.

We got started with a name game to help us get to know them a little better. This started out really well, but the kids quickly lost interest in it and started to get distracted. They seemed to enjoy our more active game though even if some of them struggled to catch on. I think they appreciated the chance to be up and active after sitting for the last game.

Then we broke into groups so we could watch a summary video of Macbeth and talk about it. The kids were attentive and interested in what was happening, so I think small groups will be the way to go to keep them involved and focused. Overall the first week went well, and I’m excited for what the rest of this project has in store.