Why You Should Use Readers Theater in the High School Classroom
What is Readers Theater?
Readers Theater is readers reading a script adapted from literature, and the audience picturing the action from hearing the script being read aloud. It requires no sets, costumes, props, or memorized lines.Scholastic.com
Benefits of Using Readers Theater in the Classroom or Library?
Readers Theater helps to….
- develop fluency through repeated exposure to text.
- increase comprehension.
- integrate reading, writing, speaking, listening in an authentic context.
- engage students.
- increase reading motivation.
- create confidence and improve the self-image of students.
- provide a real purpose for reading.
- provide opportunities for cooperative learning.
Whole class reading strategy
As a high school English teacher, I am always looking for fun and engaging activities to use with my student that help them develop their comprehension and communication skills.
Like many teachers, I had noticed that if I assigned reading for students to do outside of class, only a portion of the students would actually have completed the assignment and then even less comprehended what they read.
That is when I decided that the majority of the texts would would be read together as a class. This ensured that students completed the reading and gave opportunity to go over sections that were challenging.
This improves engagement, but ….
when reading aloud in class, either the teacher ends up with all the reading, or the students take turns reading sections. Ideally, the teacher models good reading skills; they know when to pause, stop or regulate their voice based on context clues. This makes listening to the story more interesting as the teacher normally stops and ask focused questions allowing the students a deeper access to the text. Unfortunately, this can become monotonous and tiresome to the teacher while the students passively learn.
Students engagement involves taking turn or volunteering to read. This isn’t always the best choice, either. Many stumble over difficult words or don’t regulate the tone of their voice, making it difficult for the students listening to follow along. Some students even refuse to read aloud do to a fear being embarrassed if the make a pronunciation mistake.
So, how does Readers Theater solve this problem?
Readers theater solves this problem by taking the focus off the teacher putting the onus on the students.
Allow for the assignment of reading parts as a chance to differentiate based on the length of character lines.
Students are assigned a reading part and then read their assigned lines while the rest of the class actively listens. The combination of expression and active listening increases student reading and speaking skills, while the teacher is able to to assess individual student reading skills.
When assigning parts:
- Ask for volunteers first. (I do have kids fight over parts!)
- Make sure all students read a part. This may entail changing reading roles each day
- Encourage, but don’t force students to read.
Readers Theater Builds Classroom Community
This is the best result of this strategy! Students become more comfortable and respectful with each other, as well as less distracted while staying engaged.
Creating Your Own Scripts
Readers Theater can be created from any kind of literature including short stories, poetry, picture books, folk and fairy tales, non-fiction, and magazine articles. Some stories are easier to convert than others. Look for stories with a large amount of dialogue, interesting storyline, developed characters, conflict, and humor.
Creating Readers Theater Scripts in class can be a great opportunity to help students condense material and work on their editing and format skills.
If you are looking for ideas, or don’t have the time to create your own Readers Theater Scripts, check out my Teachers Pay Teachers Store for No Prep Readers Theater Short Story Lessons and Digital Escape Room Games. Click the images below for more information.
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