It is extremely important for students to have an authentic purpose for their learning.  While typically we think of literacy as being reading and writing, speaking and listening are also important components.  Coincidentally, I had two groups of students perform Reader’s Theaters in the past week.  While performing Reader’s Theaters, students have a purpose of reading: to perform for an audience, act out a part, and be a fluent reader.

To end my tutoring program, I promised the students we would do a Reader’s Theater.  They worked very hard throughout the program, so it was only fitting to end in a fun way.  I gave the students a couple options of scripts, and they chose an African Folktale: The Clever Turtle.  They picked parts, practiced their lines, and created costumes and scenery.  We discussed why it is important to practice their parts, be focused during the performance, and read fluently.  Students worked hard creating their props; I didn’t give them guidance or restrictions, so their performance was truly their creation.

We practiced, then the students performed for a small audience.  The students worked well together, and they helped each other during the performance to make sure everyone remembered his lines.  I also recorded the play to share with others, and we watched it afterwards so they could see their performance.  This was a fun and special way to end the tutoring program.  Students were able to perform as a character and be an expressive reader, an important component that is sometimes forgotten.

At the same time, the first grade story of the week was a drama.  To end the week, we assigned an each student an animal character; they were put into small groups.  Again, after practicing their parts, they made costumes.  Students were extremely creative making wings, tails, masks, and pictures of their characters.  Then, they helped make scenery to create an autumn classroom forest.  the room was a complete disaster of paper, costumes, and props, but the students were motivated, engaged, and creative so it was worth it.

Finally, the students performed in full costume for an audience.  They were so excited and did a great job.  Reader’s Theaters really create an authentic reading experience for the students.  They had a true purpose and audience for their reading.  I don’t think the students will forget this experience any time soon, and one I hope to be able to recreate this year.

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