Social Interactive Reading
Most educators know the importance of using innovative programming to better connect with their students and make learning click, but it's often difficult to make room for the new when the old systems are statically in place. Reader's theater is the way of the future and an achievable way to incorporate new and engaging teaching techniques, since it is easy to implement and makes tracking student progress simple
Reader's theater is a practical form of social interactive reading, which is seen as the way of the future because it engages students in conversational dialogue with their peers. Making reading a socially interactive experience boosts fluency and comprehension since students actually enjoy participating in the activities. With a social barometer giving feedback on their performance, they may even be motivated to practice on their own time with friends or family to become more confident reading with their peers!
To make reading "social," students need to read aloud. To make it "interactive," students need to read "with" each other, not "to" each other. Character dialogue and roleplay reading allows students to play a character that interacts with other characters/readers. In addition, reader's theater methodology is consistent with statements from the National Endowment For the Arts, which states that learning in and through the arts can help students overcome the obstacles of disadvantaged backgrounds. It creates infectious laughter that helps break down social barriers between students and creates a fun and engaging experience for all. Adding reader's theater to your program will give your students exposure to theater arts (which may be missing from your program) while engaged in a "repetitive guided reading activity" that created exponential growth in reading skills and confidence.
Working with disadvantaged students magnifies one essential facet of teaching: the fact that education is ultimately a means to achieve personal well-being, not just a means to achieve proficient test scores. Reader's theater, through reading aloud with expression, offers numerous benefits for students who participate including improved fluency building, self-esteem, oral speaking skills, and even decision making skills. All these translate into success in other areas of their lives.
Interactive or guided reading is also vital to progress for young or struggling readers. Studies have shown that simply better access to books or reading alone has no effect on building reading skills for these students in need; only interactive or guided reading enables great strides in fluency and comprehension. With a typical teacher to student ratio, this necessary strategy can be difficult to attain, but with reader's theater the students serve as guides for each other, making interactive reading practical for any classroom setting. Roleplay reading in small non-threatening groups fosters a sense of belonging, helps struggling students to achieve success in front of their peers, shy students to gain confidence, and gives all students the opportunity to shine, no matter what may be happening in their home lives.
The conversational group aspect of reader's theater provides extra incentive for full participation and enjoyment of the reading activity, but it also offers students the opportunity to cooperate, interact, and improve their social skills. Social interactive reading is especially valuable in summer and after school, but advances in self-esteem and personal growth typically extend into the regular school day and beyond, serving academic as well as social success. Reader's theater is practically the only method (and the most fun!) of social interactive reading, so this important reading enrichment and fluency building tool needs your attention!
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