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Reader’s Theater in the Class. By Archie Drama and Literacy From the page to the stage! . Independent Readers Guided Reading Build basic reading skills for beginners : Vocabulary (phonics + sight words) , pictures,

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reader s theater in the class

Reader’s Theater in the Class

By Archie

Drama and Literacy

From the page to the stage!


Independent Readers

Guided Reading

Build basic reading skills for beginners:

Vocabulary(phonics + sight words), pictures,

authentic reading materials, confidence and



※We only hear about text level, sentence level, and word level.

※Teaching has become so mechanical, and the emphasis on text scores force us to focus on skills to the detriment of the love of reading.

※The emphasis on text scores makes us think we are teaching robots rather than human beings with heart and emotions.


On a daily basis, English teachers are faced with two main issues –

※How to get students motivated to learn ※And how to keep them focused on what

will be taught

We want the children leaving our schools choosing to read; not just able to read. We want them to have a passion for reading.

Why do Reader’s Theater? It is highly engaging…

※ Reading Fluency

※ Reading Comprehension

※ Build Vocabulary including sight words

※ Improve Listening Skills

※ Develop Expression in Oral Reading

※ Develop Self-Confidence

※ Appreciation of Plays as form of Literature

reading in the class the limit of time and materials not how much you teach but the way you teach
Reading in the Class

The limit of time and materials

Not how much you teach,

but the way you teach


RT – What

Everyone needs to talk - to hear and to play with language, to exercise the mind and emotions and tongue together.

Lois Walker


RT – What

※Reader’s Theatre is a way of sharing

stories, poems or parts of plays and novels

aloud with others.

※ Readers use scripts, suggested

characterisation, and limited actions and

settings to make the world of the story live.

※ The idea is to help listeners imaginatively

become involved in recreating the story

in their own minds.

Robertson, Marion E. and Poston-

Anderson, Barbara (1986)


RT – What

In Reader's Theater, students "perform" by reading scripts created from grade-level books or stories -- generally without benefit of costumes and props. The goal is to enhance reading skill and confidence through practice with a purpose. Reader's Theater gives students a real reason to read aloud.


RT – What

It is a theater of the imagination,

since the audience shares the job with the performers of making the story come alive in the theater of the mind.


RT – What

RT is…

※ A form of drama

※ Easy to carry out

※ Creative way of sharing aloud

※ No need to memorize the scripts

※ Active involvement

※ Peer cooperation / feedback

※ Engage audience to imagine, think and

recreate the story in mind

rt what a reading activity with comprehension fluency expression and joy
RT – What

A reading activity with




and joy


RT -- Why

※Enhance reading skill and confidence through

practice with a purpose.

※Offers an entertaining and engaging means of

improving fluency and enhancing comprehension.

※Blends students' desire to perform with their need

for oral reading practice.

※Motivates reluctant readers and provides fluent

readers with the opportunity to explore genre and


※Gives students a real reason to read aloud.


RT -- Why

Benefits: literacy skills

※reading ※writing ※listening

※critical thinking


※word usage




※story elements


RT – How

Preparing and Practice

※Choose a story or section of a book that is between

3-5 minutes long and photocopy it or rewrite for an

appropriate script.

※Assign characters

※Go through the whole script before practice by

group. Effective modeling will give them a head

start against any difficulties.

※Arrange the characters, Sit at a round table or

stand in a circle to practice


RT – How -- Preparing and Practice

※Highlight your speeches in your copy of the script.

※Underline or circle the words that tell about

anything you’ll need to act out or stress in

readers’ speeches.

※Read through the script together by group.

--Start slowly and spend the time necessary so

students feel comfortable in the performance



RT – How -- Preparing and Practice

※Read through your part out loud.

If you’re a character, think about how that

character would sound.

--Should you try a funny voice?

--How loud will be enough?

--How would the character feel about what’s

happening in the story?

--Can you speak as if you were feeling that?


RT – How -- Preparing and Practice

※Get up and read through the script again, trying

out faces and actions.

--Would your character stand or move a special


-- Use your body parts or facial expression

to express your feelings. Can you do that?

-- If possible, do all this in front of a mirror at


※Pronunciation, stress and intonation


RT – How -- Rehearsing

Here are pointers your readers should remember both in rehearsal and performance

※Hold your script at a steady height, but make

sure it doesn’t hide your face. If there’s anyone in

the audience you can’t see, your script is too high.

※Instead of holding thescrip, us music stands,

especially the performance.

※While you speak, try to look up often, not just at

your script. When you do look at it, move just your

eyes and keep your head up.


RT – How -- Rehearsing

※Talk slowly. Speak each syllable clearly.

※Talk loud! You have to be heard by the little old

deaf lady in the back row.

※Talk with feeling.

※If you’re moving around, face the audience as

much as you can. When rehearsing, always think

about where the audience will be.

※Characters, remember to be your character even

when you’re not speaking.


RT – How -- Rehearsing

※Narrators, make sure you give the characters

enough time for their actions.

※To help your readers get full vocal power, have

them check their breathing by placing their hands

on their stomachs and inhaling. If they’re breathing

fully, their hands will go out. (The diaphragm

muscle pushes down on the stomach to let the

lower lungs expand.) If their hands go in, it means

they’re breathing with only their upper lungs.


RT – How -- Rehearsing

※To help your readers hold themselves straight.

Tongue twisters and other vocal exercises can

help them speak more clearly.

In fact, you may want to warm up your readers

with vocal exercises and stretches before your

rehearsals and performances.


RT – How -- Performing

Before an actual performance, discuss with your readers the “what-ifs.”

※If the audience laughs…

※If someone talks in the audience…

※If someone walks into the room…

※If you make a mistake…

※If you drop something…

※If a reader forgets to read…

※Finally, a couple of reminders for the director:

Have fun, and tell your readers what they’re doing



RT – How – Performing -- On the Stage

There are many styles of reader’s theater. In the most traditional style:

※Readers are arranged in a row or semicircle,

sitting on high stools or standing.

※Scripts are often set on music stands.

※Scripts must be used, even if lines are memorized

for public performance. The cast should appear to

read from their scripts.

※Readers look straight out toward the audience or

at an angle, and looking at each other while has a



RT – How – Performing -- On the Stage

※Pace: While an actor is performing, the pace

should be comfortable but never too fast.

※Ensemble: All actors in a scene should be working

together to create their performance.

※Characterization and Acting: The actor should

have a full understanding of the scene and her

role in it. This should be apparent in vocal

inflection, facial expressions, and body position.

※Eye Contact: On-stage focus or off-stage focus

※Pronunciation, stress and intonation


RT – How – Performing

Tips on Staging

The following tips on staging are based on the Chamber Reader style. But remember, these are suggestions only.(Chamber Readers is a nonprofit reader’s theater company in Humboldt County, California, promoting reading and literature since 1975. Chamber Readers performs each year in nearly every public school in the county and is considered a local institution.)

Like traditional reader’s theater, the Chamber Readers style is based on script reading and the suggestive power of language. But it adds a good deal of mime and movement as well. That’s a bit more work, but it can be more fun too!


RT – How – Performing

Briefly, the distinctive features of the Chamber Readers approach are:

※Characters move around the stage much as in a


※Though narrators look at the audience, characters

most often look at each other.

※Scripts in sturdy binders are held in one hand,

leaving the other hand free for gesturing.

※A set of low stools and a single high stool serve as

versatile stage scenery/props.

※The word stage here means “stage area”—which

could be the front of a classroom. An actual stage

isn’t needed.


RT – How – Performing -- On the Stage

Beginnings and Endings

※Get in your place, enter with good posture, energy,

and purpose

※A Brief instruction, the characters and the story


※The last words are spoken slowly and with rhythm,

so the audience knows the story is over.

-The endingSlow 3…hap-pilyev-er af-ter.

※When the story is finished, they close their scripts,

face the audience, and bow all together.


RT – How – Performing -- On the Stage

Equipment --

For reader’s theater, you really need nothing but scripts. But a little basic equipment can add a lot. Here are some suggestions:

※Special uniform as a team look

※Script binders


※Masks—A half mask

※Chair-height stools and high stools.

※Small props

※Music stands


RT – How – Performing -- On the Stage

Focus:on-stage, off-stage, audience focus

Focus refers to where the readers are looking. Most of the time, it’s simple:

※Narrators use audience focus-they look straight

at the audience.

※Characters use on-stage focus-they look at

whoever they’re talking to, just as in plays or real


※But sometimes you may want characters to use

off-stage focus.

※Characters can at times also use audience focus.


RT – How – Performing

※Perform in the class

※Perform for the evaluation

※Perform for a special event

※Perform for a competition

※Perform for fun


RT – How – Scripting

The truly integrating reading, writing, and thinking skills

※Choose a story and make sure that the book is at

an appropriate reading level for students.

※RT Map –When, Where, Who, What, Why, How

※Cuts and changes

※Set the roles: There are two basic types,

Narrators tell the story.

Characters are in the story.

※Assign to individual readers more than one role.

※Use more then one narrator

※Use character narration


RT – How – Scripting

※Repetition --The chunks in the word, sentence

and paragraph

※The balance of each character’s speech

--The role of ALL – why, how

--More then one character speak at the same


※Use songs or chants in the play

※The length of a character’s speech

--long description slow the play

※Assign silent characters

※Sound effects

--Sounds in the story too should be added where

possible -- explosions, wind, bees, water…


RT – How – Scripting

Script format

※The font – the size and type of print

※line space

※Top, bottom, left and right margin


※No splitting of speeches

A Complete RT Teaching process

※Story telling

※Read the story

※Script reading

※Practice and rehearsal


※Follow-up activities


If you want to get your kids reading with comprehension, expression, fluency, and joy, there's nothing more effective than Reader's Theater.

It is a simple, effective and risk-free way to get children to enjoy reading. As children write, read, perform and interpret their roles they acquire a better understanding of the literature.

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