Readers Theater in the Middle and High School English Class

Readers Theater for the Middle and High School English Classroom. Build classroom community through scripts and plays. Reading strategies and engaging lessons.

Reading Strategies for Middle and High School

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.

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 students 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 even less comprehended what they read.

That is when I decided that most of the texts 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 excellent 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 asks 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 listen.

Students’ engagement involves taking turns or volunteering to read. This isn’t always the best choice, either. Many stumble over tough words or don’t regulate the tone of their voice, making it difficult for the students who are listening to follow along. Some students even refuse to read aloud because of a fear of being embarrassed if they make a pronunciation mistake.

So, how does Readers Theater solve this problem?

Readers theater solves this problem by taking the focus off the teacher and putting the onus on the students.

Students read their assigned lines while the rest of the class actively listens. This allows the teacher to assess individual student’s reading skills.

Students do not mind reading more, but shorter passages, while many say that the changing of the characters’ voices makes it easier for them to follow along, which increases their comprehension because they can fully track the dialog.

Assigning reading parts gives teachers the ability to differentiate based on vocabulary and length of character lines.

When assigning parts:

  • Ask for volunteers first.
  • 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

Create Readers Theater scripts 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 sizeable amount of dialogue, interesting storyline, developed characters, conflict, and humor.

Creating Readers Theater Scripts in class can be a great opportunity to help students paraphrase and condense material while developing 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.

Alice in Wonderland Readers Theater Scripts
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Readers Theater and Escape Room Game
Short Story Lesson, Agatha Christie, Mystery, Poirot, High School, English, ELA, Google Classroom, Distance Learning
Agatha Christie Poirot Investigates Readers Theater Scripts and Digital Lessons

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1 comment on “Readers Theater in the Middle and High School English Class

  1. Pingback: Why You Should Use Readers Theater in the High School English Class – The Mindful English Teacher

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