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Schools Trending Towards More Time for Core Reinforcements ... Including Reader's Theater

This Fall, 40 schools in five states will lengthen their school days to equal 50 extra days of school over the course of the year under the Time for Innovation Matters in Education (TIME) initiative. This is part of a three-year pilot program aimed to study ways of helping U.S. students become more competitive among their international counterparts. A separate trial initiative will be implemented this year in 20 New York middle schools to increase the school day by 2.5 hours for similar purposes.

One model adds 90 minutes per day, using the time for extra learning in literacy, the arts, STEM, and health to fit students' needs .... and reader's theater is in the plans! One district's Expanded Learning Director attested, "A struggling reader might have an additional period for 'readers' theater,' where they're practicing scripts and acting out and learning drama. That's actually helping them as a support for their reading," (AP 2013).

Teachers know that reader's theater works, but so often the problem for educators is fitting it into tight schedules and set curriculums. However, reading support like reader's theater is so important for literacy achievement that schools are adding time to their days in order to give their students the opportunity.

The superintendent of one participating district states, "We know that, for low income students, the more they can get practice in vocabulary and comprehension, the more likely it is they're going to be successful not just in literacy, but in math and in science and social studies," (AP 2013). So consider your materials and time spent wisely and incorporate reader's theater whenever you can!

Reader's Theater Can Recover Students Reading Below
Grade Level When Traditional
Interventions Don't Work

When helping struggling readers, it is essential to look at the reasons and ways the individual is behind grade level. By the older elementary grades, many intervention approaches focus entirely on comprehension skills but some students may have a far more basic weakness in literacy.

In this article, one reading interventionist, Katherine Blake, shares her journey teaching a fifth grade student, Kenya, who was extremely behind in reading skills. Her teacher was almost losing hope when she determined that Kenya's difficulty was a result of a lack of sufficient vocabulary and decoding skills. This held true for a number of students in the same situation, and it became clear that a change in approach was needed. Reader's theater was the answer!

After practicing and performing one reader's theater play with repeated readings and vocabulary exercises, Blake assessed her students' progress and found the following: "....All five students in my group had increased their DIBELS scores by more than 20 words per minute. Thinking it must be a fluke, I redid the tests on Tuesday with a different passage—and achieved similar results. My students' fluency had increased dramatically," (Blake 2012).

In her students' success, Blake cites repeated readings, focus on vocabulary, and increased reader confidence. She notes, "There's a stigma attached to being asked to reread something because of the implication that the first reading wasn't good enough. In readers theater, however, students have to rehearse a script multiple times in preparation for a performance. The stigma evaporates, and repeated readings become fun," (Blake 2012).

The later elementary years are not too late to help those severely behind gain basic reading skills, as long as appropriate and research-based methods are implemented ... and reader's theater provides just that for many students in need.

What Makes Playbooks® the Best
Multi-Leveled Reader's Theater Available?

Below are some of the most important and unique features of Playbooks® Reader's Theater, which increase benefits for all readers and facilitate a successful reader's theater program:

  • Playbooks® have multi-leveled roles, meaning easier and harder roles in the same story. Some publishers advertise multi-leveled scripts and they only mean each story is a different level.
  • Playbooks® have color-coded dialogue text. Some publishers claim to have colorized parts but only the character's name is colored, which is not as easy for students to follow. Only Playbooks® can have color-coded dialogue text and multi-leveled roles in the same story.
  • Playbooks® have balanced roles so that all students have the opportunity to shine.
  • Playbooks® uses appropriate role importance when leveling. Some publishers take insignificant roles and simply label them as the easier parts. With Playbooks®, often the easiest roles are the star characters!
  • Playbooks® provides the size of each role on a Recommended Reader Assignment Chart, along with the target reader level and dialogue color.
  • Playbooks® includes no more than two narrators in a story (too many narrators diminishes the fun of character reading).
  • Playbooks® always feature story characters that talk to each other, not to the reader. (That’s just a narrative.)

Learn more about our patented format.

View Playbooks® virtual samples for Grades K-12 online.

Curriculum-Based Reader's Theater Maximizes Value and Classroom Time Investment

While literary-based reader's theater is firmly established as a staple of fluency-building, educators can increase the benefits even further by choosing curriculum-based scripts. Reader's theater scripts that align with other academic subjects provide an excellent mechanism for teaching curriculum facts and content in a memorable and fun way. Because reader's theater builds fluency as students read and is designed to be read multiple times, teaching curriculum content through reader's theater helps students comprehend the information more effectively than they might through a text book.

Use of curriculum-based scripts maintains the reading growth purposes of the activity... as long as factual content does not come at the cost of high-quality role-play reading material. Playbooks® scripts are available for a variety of cross-curricular academic and supplemental topics, and every story adheres to our standards for enjoyable, effective reader's theater (described in the section above).

View our content themes reference page, and choose from our scripts covering factual curricular content in History, Science, Math, STEM, Health, Music, and more.

Just a few examples of our cross-curricular scripts...

(Image) Planet Parade
Planet Parade (Science/Solar System)

(Image) Fabulous Food Detectives
Fabulous Food Detectives
(Image) Planet Parade
Please Excuse My
Dear Aunt Sally

(Math/Order of Operations)

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