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Teaching Strategies for Reader’s Theater

Janelle Cox

If you’re looking for new teaching strategies for students to read with expression and improve their comprehension, then you must try reader’s theater. Readers theater isn’t just a fun way to get your students enthusiastic about reading, but it’s also is a great way to keep your students engaged and connected to what they are learning. In reader’s theater, students get to develop scripts, perform in groups, and act out different characters from the stories they are reading. Here are a few teaching strategies for implementing a reader’s theater in your classroom.

Teaching Strategies to Set Up Reader’s Theater

When you think of reader’s theater, you probably imagine this huge production that will take your students hours to complete. However, all you really need is about 20-30 minutes of class time. You can also fit the script into just about any part of your day. For example, instead of having students do their morning work, have students read their script or have students practice scripts while students are waiting to go home. You can also use reader’s theater as part of your literacy center rotations. Students can read and practice their scripts with their groups.

Reader’s Theater in 5 Simple Steps

There are five essential components to implementing reader’s theater into your classroom. Here we will take a closer look at each of the steps.

Choosing a Script

The Internet is amazing when it comes to finding scripts. There are a lot of websites like Teachers Pay Teachers that have a lot of scripts that you can download free of charge. You can also ask your fellow teachers or go on a teacher blog and ask if anyone would like to share with you. Once you have a script, make sure that you make a ton of copies. This way you can use it year after year.

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Adapting the Script

Reader’s theater can be adapted for any age and any reading level. Students in 5th and 6th grade can put on a great production -- it’s not just for the younger kids. It’s easy to search or create your own scripts that are at your students’ reading level too. You can even mix and match scripts to differentiate learning.

Assigning Roles

Before assigning parts to students, have them try out a couple different roles. This way you can see what part they are best suited for. An easy way to do this is to put students into small groups and have each group come up and read for the same part.

Practice and Rehearse

Give students time to practice. You can also assign a script for homework so students can get acquainted with it, then allow students to come and practice it throughout the school day.

Reader’s theater is much more than just putting on a play. Remember that students are using the repeated reading strategy, which enhances their reading fluency. It’s also using cooperative learning, problem-solving skills, and common core learning standards of speaking and listening. To ensure students understand this theater is important, be sure to set some guidelines like reading with expression, speaking loud, clear and steady, listening while others speak, and paying attention.

Perform

Lastly, it’s time to perform. Reader’s theater doesn’t mean that you have to put on this huge production. You can leave the props and costumes out, and just focus on the students reading each their parts. Have students sit in a circle with their scripts in hand and take turns reading their part. Wait until you have a lot of extra time carved out of your schedule to create a big production where students produce the play, and create their props and costumes, and share their performance with their peers or parents.

Reader’s theater creates a purpose for reading, and it makes it an enjoyable classroom activity. It’s also a wonderful way to reinforce your students’ reading, listening, and thinking skills in a fun way.

Do you use reader’s theater in your classroom? What is your favorite script for students? Please share your teaching strategies with us in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you on this topic.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educatorsor contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.