The students were placed into groups of 3-4, and each group was assigned a motif to follow throughout the play. After each act, they recorded instances of their motif in a class wiki. Click here to view an example. This part of the project helped them see how many times Shakespeare included those motifs throughout the play, and they started to see what characters were associated with the different motifs.
That was a great exercise, but the culminating project blew me away.
For the final exam, students came up to the whiteboard one at a time and wrote a motif, character or idea from the play. They then had to connect that items to any other items on the board and explain why they were linked together. This is what it looked like:
The class was actively engaged in helping each other make the connections between items. Once we were finished, we had an outstanding discussion about what this play is really about. We also talked about who or what should be at the center of this word web (Power or Macbeth was the consensus).
I saw REAL learning and understanding taking place during this activity. Many students commented to me that they felt like they actually understood Shakespeare for the first time, beyond just basic plot points. I felt like this assessed student's understanding far better than any multiple-choice or essay test that I could construct.