Learning Through Readers Theater Scripts
Today’s let us consider an old friend of mine–readers theater. Learning through readers theater scripts is effortless. I’m getting ahead of myself here.
Did you know that 40% of our students can not read fluently. Forty per cent! Yikes.
When we were raising our daughters, I made it a point of reading to our daughters at least thirty minutes twice a day. I know not everyone has that privilege. Now I offer to read to my grandchildren whenever I can. This little imp in the photo is our granddaughter who loves to read. It’s no wonder–look at her in the photo! You can see her delight in the story and pictures.
But back to our students reading issues. If you are looking for a way to keep your students engaged and sort of in the drama class (or actually Reading or Language Arts class) mindset, here’s an idea:
Teach through a reader’s theater script!
Rehearsal Schedule for a Readers Theater Performance
Here is what I would do in this situation—
- Select a reader’s theater which you know your students will enjoy
- Announce to the students in the class you will be performing a readers theater play
- Teach about readers theater and its many assets (script in hand, no memorization, everyone works together)
- Inform parents and invite them to the performance. (Day Six)
- Hand out scripts to students
- Read aloud the script.
- Afterward instruct students to select three roles they are interested in performing and send you their choices. You’ll send them an email with the cast list.
- Cast the roles
- Announce to the class the cast list
- Teach students how to hi-light their lines.
- Read aloud script a second time
- Discuss any questions or moments you want to clarify with the students (Such as when it says “ad-lib.” what does that mean?)
- Instruct the students to complete any assignment you may have given them to accompany the script and send to you
Days Five, Six and Seven
- Read the script aloud again and coach the class focusing on vocal inflection, variety, tone and enunciation (Also, you may want to coach them on physicalizing of the character. How would an angry man look? What about a frightened giant?)
- If you want the students to have costume pieces, perhaps you could discuss ideas for costume pieces they may have at home? (Maybe the students could use some foil and tagboard and make a crown, for instance. Or a student portraying a chicken could make a demi-mask to wear during the reading.)
- Performance Day!
- Either rehearse the script once more or the teacher gives any last-minute directions
- Record the performance (It will be so fun for the students to see it afterward!)
- Hold a post production discussion about the experience (Maybe a little party could be held with everyone bringing their own snack and drink to the class?)
Grab my FREE guide and ten page lesson to help you boost student engagement here:
Reader’s Theater is an excellent way to involve all readers, no matter their skill level.
In case, you are unfamiliar with Reader’s Theater here is a good definition from the Education World website, a wonderful retired Language Arts Teacher,
“In Reader’s Theater, students “perform” by reading scripts created from grade-level books or stories — generally without benefit of costumes and props. The goal is to enhance reading skill and confidence through practice with a purpose. Reader’s Theater gives students a real reason to read aloud.
“A great deal of fluency research reiterates the need for repeated reading,” reported Finney. “Without fluency, there is little comprehension; the value of Reader’s Theater is increased tenfold when used as a strategy for increasing understanding of what is being read.”
Reader’s Theater motivates reluctant readers and provides fluent readers with the opportunity to explore genre and characterization.”
Reluctant Learners and Readers Theater
Are reluctant students successful with readers theater? Yes, yes and one more yes!
Reader’s Theater motivates reluctant readers and provides them a safe environment. They can actually “hide” behind a script. As they focus on the script, they become unaware of reading aloud in front others.
If you are ready to try a readers theater unit, here are a few of mine.
The products come with:
- a warm up
- advice in directing reader’s theater
- blocking plot for teacher’s staging needs
- a lesson about the country or culture of which the folk tale hails (i.e. Italian language, Yiddish language, Grimms Brothers, Inuit dance, etc.)
- script with roles for 15 to 30 students, depending upon the script
- original song and sheet music (optional for performance)
- sound bytes of music
Comprehensive? You bet!
Check out my store at: Dramamommaspeaks Store
These scripts are field-tested and created by a veteran drama teacher and director of thirty-eight years.
Who am I?
I am a retired drama educator having taught for thirty-eight years in both the public and private sectors. Whew! During this time, I created a curriculum for studies in creative dramatics, creative movement, introduction to musical theater, musical theater, film making, technical theater, introduction to Shakespeare, introduction to theater as well speech and debate. I created seven youth theater companies that continue today in various parts of the Midwest, oversaw productions for thirty-eight years and developed a national playwriting contest for youth theater scripts. In addition, I am an award-winning director who has directed over 250 plays and musicals with children and adults alike. My sister was an elementary teacher for many years as were my aunts. In the late 1800s, my fraternal grandmother was known for her strength in teaching math in the wilds of Kansas. My maternal grandmother established the first kindergarten in Osaka, Japan in the 1890s. In short teaching is in my blood and comes to me joyfully and naturally.
I hope you’ll consider teaching readers theater to your students through distance learning with the help of a company such as Zoom. I’d love to hear how it goes for you, too!
If you’d like to read more about my lessons, look at:
Contact me at email@example.com or DeborahBaldwin.net