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Readers 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
Why do Readers 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
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

Readers 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

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 youll 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 youre 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 whats
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 doesnt hide your face. If theres anyone in
the audience you cant see, your script is too high.
Instead of holding the scrip, 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 youre 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 youre 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 theyre 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
theyre 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 theyre doing
RT How Performing -- On the Stage
There are many styles of readers 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 readers
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 readers 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. Thats 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 areawhich
could be the front of a classroom. An actual stage
isnt 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 ending Slow 3hap-pily ev-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 readers 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
MasksA 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, its simple:
Narrators use audience focusthey look straight
at the audience.
Characters use on-stage focusthey look at
whoever theyre 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 characters 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 characters 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.
The best place is in the
Thanks for your time

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Passion, love and the right way

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