Readers’ Theater – Building Fluency, Confidence, and Comprehension

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Written by Stephanie (Teach Starter)

“Readers’ theater provides readers with a legitimate reason to reread text and to practice fluency. Readers’ theater also promotes cooperative interaction with peers and makes the reading task appealing.” – Linda Cornwell

As teachers, we are frequently asked the question: How can I assist my child to improve their reading fluency? Research indicates that repeated reading of the same text can significantly improve reading fluency. However, many children show little interest in reading the same text multiple times… understandably so!

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So, how can we engage our students in repeated reading activities that are interesting, enjoyable, and authentic? One such classroom activity is Readers’ Theater. Studies have proven that this interactive learning experience can improve oral reading fluency in students of all reading abilities.

Readers’ Theater places readers firmly in the driver’s seat. While it is, in essence, a form of repeated oral reading, children do not lose interest easily. The activity provides a clear and tangible purpose for reading aloud; that is, to produce a short piece of drama for others to enjoy. In the context of achieving this collective goal, repeated reading (which may seem monotonous in another situation) is seen as a purposeful part of the process.

If you are interested in implementing Readers’ Theater in your classroom, read on! This blog provides a brief overview of how to implement Readers’ Theater during your literacy sessions, as well as outlining some of the wonderful benefits of the activity for your students.

What is Readers’ Theater?

Readers’ Theater is a reading activity which involves the students reading a script aloud in a small group. There is no need for the students to perform actions, use props, wear costumes, or memorize any lines. The goal of the learning experience is to encourage the students to ‘bring the script alive’ through the use of a clear and expressive voice, some facial expressions, and some simple gestures.

How to Implement Readers’ Theater in the Classroom

  1. Place the students into groups, according to the number of character roles in the script. Each group member receives a copy.
  2. Encourage the students to read the whole script silently to themselves. This enables them to become familiar with the story and the characters.
  3. Assign each student a role. Some roles may be more text-dense than others, so be sure to take this into consideration before allocating characters.
  4. Allow the students to read the part that has been assigned to them several times. Encourage the students to check the pronunciations and definitions of any unfamiliar vocabulary.
  5. Have the students read through their script together as a group. Remind the students to continue reading if they make a mistake so as not to interrupt the flow of the script.
  6. Encourage each group to decide if any props are needed to perform the script. These should only be used if absolutely necessary.
  7. In turns, have each group sit in a semi-circle in front of the class. The goal is for the script to be read aloud with each student reading their part clearly and with expression.
  8. Facilitate a class discussion with the students after each performance. Encourage the students to provide helpful feedback to the performers.

The Benefits of Readers’ Theater for Students

In addition to increasing oral reading fluency through repeated reading, Readers’ Theater provides many other benefits for students. It enables students to:

  • share and explore literature with others
  • work collaboratively in a team
  • prepare, view, and discuss performances
  • develop confidence
  • increase reading comprehension.

There is an abundance of evidence which supports Readers’ Theater as an authentic learning experience which builds fluency, confidence, and comprehension. If you are feeling inspired to try Readers’ Theater during your own literacy sessions, browse through our extensive collection of fun and engaging Readers’ Theater scripts. There are 30 scripts available, catering to a wide range of age groups and ability levels.

Introducing Teach Starter Readers’ Theater

For the whole collection of readers’ theater:

Readers' Theatre Resource Pack

 

 

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