Here is a typical scenario when it comes to using Reader’s Theater in the elementary school classroom: It’s Friday afternoon, your students are restless, and you are working with one particular reading group on a strategy they haven’t quite grasped. What to do with your other reading groups? Give them Reader’s Theater scripts and let them have fun while they practice reading, rereading, and building fluency skills.
Well, yes; but there are so many more ways to “keep winning” with Reader’s Theater throughout the week. Which is not to say it ISN’T a fine Friday afternoon activity; it’s just that Reader’s Theater is fine for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday – and in the mornings, too!
In this Reader’s Theater blog series, I will be discussing some of the ways Reader’s Theater can be incorporated into your daily curriculum. But first, let’s revisit WHY Reader’s Theater is such a good Friday afternoon activity.
- Gives students an authentic, and motivating, reason to read – and reread
- Gets groups of students working together, improving listening and cooperation skills
- Helps build fluency, which in turn helps improve comprehension
To sum it up, Reader’s Theater engages students. They like to practice reading the scripts (Hint: Call it rehearsing and they won’t grumble.) and they love to perform the scripts. It gives students the opportunity to release their inner ham. And you’d be surprised how many reluctant readers come out of their shell under the guise of playing a part or taking on the “voice” of a character.
Because Reader’s Theater gets students’ attention and keeps their interest, it is also a perfect vehicle to extend lessons in reading strategies, comprehension skills, vocabulary and word study, writer’s craft, content-area connections, character education, etc.
Foremost, of course, Reader’s Theater is ideal for developing fluency skills. And when I say fluency, I mean reading with expressiveness, pace, phrasing, intonation, and inflection (lumped together they comprise what is called prosody). Although reading quickly (rate) and accurately are important components of fluency as they help students develop automaticity, just because students can properly decode text doesn’t necessarily mean they understand what they are reading.
Reading with prosody, however, requires that students understand what they are reading. Which brings us back to the foundational skill of comprehension, which is why we read in the first place.
Please join us next week for some ideas on how to teach an engaging lesson on punctuation. (What was that? Did he just say that with Reader’s Theater you can make learning punctuation fun? This I gotta see.)
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Editor, Benchmark Education Company
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