Create a Context
Infuse readers’ theater lessons with relevance and content – connect standards, design writing prompts, add related nonfiction background readings, and utilize technology. Researching the cultural context or historical background before, during, or after reading will promote a deeper analysis of the piece by your students. Or, flip the method and use a short readers’ theater script to support other units and lesson plans.
Manage Expectations and Procedures
Find some scripts that are short enough to use on a somewhat routine basis. Creating clear and simple procedures and revisiting them each time you introduce a readers’ theater script will help the process flow smoothly.
Add More Dimension to Learning
Letting your students perform rather than merely reading a play brings a new dimension to a class study of a dramatic piece. You give them a safe and small audience to perform for – which makes it both real and more doable. They bring the pages to life. They will take ownership of a role, and you find you’ve tapped their sense of identity – both individual and class identity. Talk about taking learning to a deeper level!
As students get out of their seats and act out parts for their audience (usually comprised of non-acting students in the class), they use auditory, kinesthetic and visual modalities of learning. As you get them moving and their blood flowing, they’ll be alert and engaged.
Want even more engagement? Bring or encourage costumes, the use sound effects, appoint a director if you like, create a lighting crew for act changes – which can be as simple as turning on and off the light switch (or dimmer, if you have one). Use a student cinematographer and/or photographer, if appropriate.
Or, just let your students get out of their seats and perform their parts. They’ll do the rest. What matters most is that they’re in character, follow stage directions, and use a designated area for the acting space. This space can be any area you normally use for student movement activities, or you can rearrange your room (you can create theatre-in-the-round or a thrust stage). Placing neon tape and/or running lights on the edge of your stage area adds an exciting touch. Again, no preparation is fine as well.
Make it as simple or complex as you like. Just get ready for a wonderful day and experience for all. This will be one of those school experiences that creates memories for students – plus one that imparts an on-the-spot sense of meaning onto you as their teacher.
Click here for a free readers’ theater handout for your students.
Plus, be sure to check out some of my readers’ theater scripts with lessons by clicking below!