Reader's Theater FAQ
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Reader’s Theater is a fantastic way to increase reading fluency by providing students with an authentic reason to reread. It also benefits reading comprehension by placing students inside stories.What is it?
Reader’s theater involves reading a play that is meant to be readâ€”not memorized.But how exactly do you use it?
Find free Reader’s Theater online or write your own. Ideally the readers theater will align with a current story or unit. However, it doesn’t have to.
If you choose Reader’s Theater which has a little humor in it you will find students and you will enjoy it much more. It needs to be at an appropriate level for your students. They should know almost all the words on the page except for a few.
I pass out scripts to students and have them highlight their parts which I assign. Then we meet back together, sit in a circle and read through the script.
I make a rule that no one corrects anyone else who makes a mistake and I only correct on the first read if a mistake changes the meaning of the story. Do not direct the students as actors on the first read. Let them practice just reading the script this without having to worry about acting out the scenesâ€”acting comes later.
At the end of the first read I give a mini-lesson on any common mistakes made my class e.g. reading contractions, colloquial sayings, etc. These mini-lessons are determined by specific mistakes your class might make on reading.
If the first read has gone really well we might reread it again right there and then but most times I don’t want to bore the students. I leave it alone and come back to it later.
Come back to it as a whole class first at least one more time and then leave it for students to practice during Independent Work Time.
Once students are able to read the script with few errors, then you can start giving them a little direction e.g. the troll needs to use a scarier voice OR the little billy goat needs a tiny high voice.
Perform it! You don’t have to perform every script but if you never perform any script then what’s the funny of it? Other classes are generally willing to be a good audience
Why is this effective? If you’ve ever heard your students groan when you say you’re going to reread a decodable book or anthology, you’ll appreciate that reader’s theater gets students to reread without groaning because there’s a real life purpose for them practicing. If they know they’re going to perform it then they are much more willing to practice.In addition, by having to follow someone else’s reading, students have to pay attention and follow what other people are reading to make sure they don’t miss their turn. Reader’s Theater is also fun, always a good thing to have in the clasroom.