Home      General Info.      Incorporating Reader's Theater
One of the most frequent questions I receive from fellow teachers is “Reader’s Theater sounds great, but how do you incorporate it into your classroom?”  This seems like this should be an easy question for me, someone who is such a vocal proponent of RT, but, unfortunately, it isn’t.  As you might have read in the other articles or posts on this site, RT is something that just happened in my classroom.  I never had to consciously think about how to implement it.  What I can give you is a run-down of my personal process.

Here’s how I conduct a typical RT lesson.

  • I describe the RT process to the class:  Everyone will get a script with various parts.  I will select certain students who will play certain parts.  It’s important that the people selected as readers do their best, otherwise, this could turn into a miserable experience.
  • I usually include a threat:  “If you would rather read the non-play version of this story, I also have that available.”  (I have never had a class pick the “book” version.)
  • I pass out the script and give a very brief idea of what the script will be about.  I might ask some typical pre-reading questions as one might ask before reading a short story in-class.
  • I ask for volunteers.  Those who love to read aloud should be given first dibs.  The worst idea ever is forcing students to read when they really don’t feel comfortable.  If no one is volunteering, I assign the parts.  If the students begin to gripe, I threaten them with the “book” version again.
  • We perform the script.  I encourage question-asking along the way.  I stop the script to point out vocabulary words, character development, literary devices, etc.
  • After the script, I perform some kind of assessment.  This has been a reading quiz, where I ask five questions about the story orally and the students write down the answers.  This has been a written response to the story.  This has been a written summary of the story.  This has also been a class-wide oral quiz where I ask certain students questions about the story in order to determine whether or not they were listening.

Some things I do not do with my students:

  • Require them to stand while reading
  • Require them to physically act out the script (I’m dealing with high-schoolers.)
  • Force them to read when they would really prefer not to
  • Give a summary of the story before reading (This kills the suspense!)

Some things I encourage:

  • Ad-libbing (It’s great when students feel enough ownership of their part to ad-lib!)
  • Sound effects (If there’s a sound effect written, everyone needs to help create it!)
  • Attentiveness (Even though RT is engaging, some see it as an opportunity for napping.)
  • Funny voices and emotional readings (Everybody knows Mr. Hamby hates robo-readers.)
  • Laughter (Students love to crack one another up.)


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