Learning loss has been mentioned frequently throughout the pandemic but it's no stranger to teachers and administrators when talking about summer learning loss. Particularly coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is concern about pandemic-related learning loss in addition to summer learning loss. Specifically, parents and teachers are worried about reading fluency diminishing. Reading fluency typically diminishes during the summer months for many students. However, amidst the pandemic, preliminary data are showing that diminishment is happening during the school year as well. To combat reading fluency loss, many schools are turning to Reader's Theater as an adaptive learning solution.
What Is Reader's Theater?
Reader's Theater is an oldie but goodie. It's been around in some form or another since the late 1800s. However, it wasn't until the 1990s when reading specialist Dr. James Cummins coined the term "Reader's Theater" that it really took off. Cummins is the one who developed Reader's Theater into the form that we know it today.
Reader's Theater today is a scripted reading activity where students read different parts of a text, much like a play. The beauty of Reader's Theater is that it's adaptable for any student reading level and it can be differentiated for each student so that all students are reading from the same text but at their own reading level. Often, it's best practice for students to be grouped together in groups of 6 so that reading is more interactive and engaging.
How Does Reader's Theater Work?
There are three main steps to a reading role in Reader's Theater:
- Read your part with expression
- Respond to the reading by performing actions or making sounds
- Be aware of your surroundings and what is happening in the story
Reader's Theater can be used with any type of text but it is typically used with texts that have been adapted into a script. The beauty of using scripts for reading roles is that there are many different leveled scripts available online. This means that you can find a script that is perfect for your students no matter what reading level they are at.
How Does Reader's Theater Help With Reading Fluency?
Reader's Theater helps with reading fluency because it provides a fun and interactive way for students to read aloud. Additionally, reading from a part in a play or poem helps to improve reading comprehension because students are reading for a purpose and not just reading for the sake of reading. The definition of reading fluency is reading with accuracy, speed, and expression- with expression being the most important element. Therefore, Reader's Theater is perfectly adapted to teach reading with expression through its dramatized texts! Finally, by reading with their peers, students are modeling fluent reading behaviors which will help their classmates become more proficient readers too.
What Are The Benefits Of Reader's Theater?
- Reader's Theater is adaptable for any student's reading level.
- Reader's Theater can be differentiated for each student so that all students are reading from the same text but at their own reading level.
- There are various stages throughout the program where the reading levels are tested and subsequent reading role assignments are adjusted.
- Reader's Theater helps with reading fluency because it provides a fun and interactive way for students to read aloud.
- Additionally, reading from a part in a play or poem helps to improve reading comprehension because students are reading for a purpose and not just reading for the sake of reading.
- Finally, by reading with their peers, students are modeling fluent reading behaviors which will help their classmates become more proficient readers.
- Reader's Theater also promotes social and emotional development as students learn to work cooperatively in groups and develop empathy for their peers.
How Can Schools Implement Reader's Theater?
There are a few different ways that schools can implement reader's theater into their reading curriculum.
- One way is to provide teacher-led reading rehearsals in which the whole class reads through the text together and then practices their lines. This is called a choral reading.
- Another way is to have students work in pairs or small groups to practice reading their lines. This can be done during reading workshop time, English Language Arts block, or even as a homework assignment.
- Finally, schools can also provide a reader's theater script for students to read on their own at home.
No matter how it is implemented, Reader's Theater is a great way to help improve reading fluency and comprehension while promoting social and emotional development. It's an adaptable learning solution that really fits every individual student's needs. So, if reading fluency is a concern for your school, be sure to consider implementing Reader's Theater into your reading curriculum!