What is Reader's Theater?
A Proven Method for Teaching Reading Fluency & Comprehension
Building Reading Fluency
Reader's Theater is a method of reading a story aloud, like a play, without memorization, props, or a stage. Students are each assigned a character role and read their part with expression, meaning, and enthusiasm. The method is best used in small, non-threatening groups of approximately 6 students so students can become practiced at their roles prior to reading/performing in front of a group or audience.
Plays inherently come with built-in strategies to help students read better. The acting out of story dialogue compels readers to work more closely with the text to interpret and project meaning into the experience. As a result, students show improvement in vocabulary, comprehension, and retention.
Repeated readings in multi-leveled small groups (high, medium, and low readers together) also provide the practice of "Repeated Guided Oral Reading" which is the only proven method of building reading fluency. Reader's Theater also meets 50 Common Core Standards!
Reader's Theater gives students an outlet for creative expression and a safe platform for building reading confidence, which translates into success in many other areas of their lives.
Watch a 2 minute overview on Reader's Theater
Reader's Theater Methodology is an approved method of repeated guided oral reading!
There is an abundance of research supporting that “Repeated Guided Oral Reading” improves reading fluency and comprehension, especially when it includes reading role models. For a document summarizing several studies relating to Repeated Guided Oral Reading along with information as to how Reader's Theater fulfills National Reading Panel reading and fluency goals, click here.
Research also shows four repeated readings sufficiently improve reading fluency. Most traditional texts can NOT hold students’ attention for up to four separate readings. Reader’s Theater truly engages students and is the most popular form of “repeated guided oral reading.” Reader’s Theater provides an easy-to-implement dramatic text that does not require memorization, props, or a stage.
Improved Vocabulary & Comprehension
Plays inherently come with built-in strategies to help students read better. The acting out of story dialogue compels readers to work more closely with the text to interpret and project meaning into the experience. As a result, students show improvement in vocabulary, comprehension, and retention. In addition, colorized text improves outcomes!
Reader's Theater Methodology Is a Research-Based and Approved Method of Teaching Reading Fluency and Comprehension, Meeting Over 50 Common Core Standards for English Language Arts, Literacy, and Most State Language Arts Standards!
Reader's Theater provides readers with a desired and legitimate reason to re-read text and to practice fluency. Reader's Theater also promotes cooperative interaction with peers and makes the reading task appealing.
A Proven Methodology For Teaching Reading Fluency & Comprehension
Reader's Theater: To recap, Reader’s Theater provides an easy-to-implement, fun, and engaging reading enrichment activity in the form of dramatic texts (scripts/plays/stories) that do not require memorization, props, or a stage. Scripts are written like plays with character dialogue, but also include narration (like stories) to explain to readers/listeners what’s happening in the story that the readers can’t hear or see. This narration is what eliminates the needs for props, stage, or sound effects. Children read aloud together in small groups with each assuming a different character role and bringing it to life with verbal and physical expression.
Adaptive for All Students: Learning in and through the arts can even help students overcome the obstacles of disadvantaged backgrounds. Reader’s Theater gives ALL students the opportunity to be creative which keeps them engaged for the entire reading activity. Putting on a theatrical play can be a tremendous amount of work and preparation for instructors and students, and typically only provides a spotlight for a handful of kids (usually those who already have the confidence or talent to read or perform in front of large groups). Conversely, Reader’s Theater provides a balanced platform for ALL students to shine with mostly balanced roles being read and re-read in small non-threatening groups.
Good for Struggling Readers: In fact, struggling readers tend to be the best Reader’s Theater performers (when given a role they can read with accuracy and confidence) as they seem to have a better aptitude for creative and dramatic expression. Consequently, they typically end up being the biggest stars in this type of activity. Imagine now that you are a student that once was filled with anxiety at the thought of reading out loud and now you associate your reading with pride and confidence. Reader's Theater offers a life-changing opportunity for many struggling students in a way that captivates students’ interest and gives them a legitimate reason and desire to re-read the same text.
Building Confidence & Social Interaction: Role-play reading in a supportive environment helps to build confidence and self-esteem in children, strengthens oral communications skills in students of all reading levels, and helps to build or strengthen social/emotional bonds between members of a group. When children can read with success in front of their peers, their confidence and enthusiasm soar, and their reading and communication skills grow at a more rapid pace.
Dramatic text can equal creativity and expression: Drama, like poetry, sometimes gets neglected in the literature curriculum, yet it offers an abundance of opportunities for improved learning. Plays inherently come with built-in strategies to help students read better. Dramatic text offers opportunities for creativity and expression, and the acting out of story dialogue, even in a simple reading form, compels readers to work more closely with the text to interpret and project meaning into the shared reading experience. For these same reasons, Reader's Theater presents enhanced opportunities for learning English as a second language (ESL/ELD).