"Intellectual distinction is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for election to a Rhodes Scholarship. Selection committees are charged to seek excellence in qualities of mind and in qualities of person which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead. The Rhodes Scholarships, in short, are investments in individuals rather than in project proposals..."

Monday, December 10, 2012

Review of Macbeth - A Video Enhanced iBook from Providence eLearning

This was the fourth book I reviewed for Providence eLearning as a consulting project, and the fourth I will review here.

My daughter just finished a student review of this book for Providence eLearning.  I didn't want to review it before she finished because I didn't want my review to influence her opinion of the book.

I love Shakespeare.  However, I've read Shakespeare for pleasure and not because I was required read it in school.  One disappointing aspect of my education was that I really read very little GOOD classical literature in high school.  I had more good literature in Catholic middle school I attended (thank you, Mrs. Schlub!)  I grew up in the age of Judy Bloom.  Instead of reading Shakespeare, we read Rumblefish.  I don't despise Youth Literature.  However, I think it should be pleasure reading, not required reading.  Shakespeare should be required reading.  The reason Shakespeare isn't required is because people fear it and because there are not many good literature teachers out there that can bring Macbeth to kids in the way Mr. William Lasseter does in the iBooks available from Providence eLearning. 

Providence eLearning's Macbeth utilizes many of the great features of iBooks.  All iBooks have auto define, highlighting, note taking, etc.  However, added features of Providence's iBooks include narration by Mr. Lasseter as well as video interpretation of the text. His voice and teaching skills are truly showcased by this book. There is also a hypertext glossary of many of the more difficult or archaic terminology as well as character descriptions and relationships.  Also, the video production values are great. There are also questions to "Check Your Understanding" after each video interpretation.

And, don't think that technology spoils the beauty of a Shakespeare tale.  Besides being able to listen to Macbeth as if it were a play (because Mr. Lasseter changes his voice for different characters), it features some old illustrations that I really enjoyed. 

This month, I was struck by how much my kids really need iBooks like this.  I am a big fan of Socratic discussions.  However, I can't always get other homeschooling kids the same as my kids on board to read the same books we are reading at the same time.  And running four different book clubs while leading a group of high school students through the Iliad and the Odyssey, I just didn't have the bandwidth to cover these titles with my kids.   So we don't have discussion groups for the extra books.  The kids appreciate Mr. Lasseter's reflections and interpretations of the text.

I highly recommend this iBook for high school students because of the level of vocabulary and dark themes.   

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