Reader’s Theater is essentially just creating a skit based on a book or historical event. Because the skit will encompass all of the main ideas surrounding the historical event or plot of a book, it is a superb way to assess student comprehension. Here are some quick steps to generate reader’s theater skits with your students:
1. Groups. First, break students into groups of four to six. Assign (or allow a chance to pick) a different historical event or portion of a novel to each group.
2. Main Ideas. The groups need to first brainstorm the main ideas of the event of story and list them chronologically. You might want to model this first as a whole class, using a different book or historical event than those assigned to the groups.
3. Characters. Next, the groups should list all characters and major players.
4. Skit Conventions. Now would be a great time for a mini-lesson on playwriting conventions, such as format, use of colons after each speaker’s name, use of parentheses to describe emotion or voice inflection, dividing the story into Acts and Scenes, etc).
5. Plot. Next, review the elements of a story’s plot (beginning, conflict, rising action, climax, falling action, conclusion). Students can fill out this printable form to help organize their story into these plot components.
6. Writing. Now the groups are ready to turn their lists of main events, plot elements, and characters into a skit! Model this as a class, first.
7. Practice. Allow time to practice, create props, sets, etc. This can get as elaborate or as simple as you desire. Simple props work just fine!
9. Then…perform! While the rest of the class will LOVE watching the other groups perform, other possible audiences include parents, other classes or younger students. Your students can complete this printable Reader’s Theater Audience Feedback Form on each group, as well.
This is a fun and unique way to assess comprehension while also encouraging public speaking and cooperative learning!
written by Elizabeth Cossick, M.Ed.