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Using Readers' Theater for Elementary Students and Struggling Readers

written by: Margo Dill • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 9/11/2012

In your elementary remedial reading class, you can use readers' theater to help your struggling readers. Reader's theater can improve fluency, expression, comprehension, and reading at an appropriate pace. You can make your own scripts with leveled books or find them online.

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    How to Use Reader's Theater

    Reader's theater for elementary students can be a fun and motivational tool to use with your struggling readers. You can find free readers' theater scripts, or you can make your own. Here's how to use these scripts in your remedial reading class.

    1. Introduce the script just like you would introduce a leveled book to your students during a guided reading lesson. Review keywords, the plot of the story, and so on.
    2. Assign parts to your struggling readers. You can assign larger parts to students who are reading at a higher level than others.
    3. Use echo reading the first time you read through the readers' theater for elementary students script. This will help students with unknown words, proper expression of the character's speech, and so on.
    4. Let your struggling readers take home their scripts to practice their parts several times before you perform the play for an audience.
    5. Practice the reader's theater script in your remedial reading class until your students are completely comfortable with the words, AND they are able to act it out!

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    Why Use Reader's Theater?

    Reader's theater for elementary students allows struggling readers to improve their fluency and expression when they read. When students read a text again and again for a purpose, such as practicing readers' theater, then they will also improve their oral reading skills. Free readers' theater scripts can also help with comprehension because students are "acting" in a play. Their character plays a part in the plot of the story. In order to read their parts correctly, they will have to comprehend what is going on in the story. Is the character angry? Why? Is the character excited? What is going on in the reader's theater script to make the character excited?

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    Where to Find Reader's Theater Scripts

    You can find free readers' theater scripts on-line or make them yourself. Teaching Heart is a website that has readers theater for elementary students scripts for kindergarten through third grade. These would be appropriate if you are a Title I teacher or have a group of struggling readers in your elementary classroom. Another great website with several readers theater scripts is Timeless Teacher Stuff. You need to scroll down to the middle of the page to find the readers' theater for elementary students scripts.

    You can also take one of your students' favorite leveled readers and turn it into free readers' theater scripts. You can have a narrator who reads the text and different readers who read the characters' dialogue. You can also type up your own script based on the book. You may want to write your own free readers' theater scripts because you know your struggling readers best, and you will know what vocabulary they'll be able to handle in the script. Whatever you decide to do--have fun and watch your students improve their reading skills!