In ESL/ELL instruction Readers Theatre is a strategy that comes up often. Whenever I have looked at Readers Theatre I have often found the lessons or units to be overly detailed and wanted to find a way to simplify the concept. As well, I wanted to ensure my students were gaining practice with the four language skills; reading, writing, listening and speaking. So, I did some research online and came across several Readers Theatre ideas, and a few things I might like to try. The lesson below is a loose planning of a Readers Theatre lesson and not specific to any script. I hope it can support you in your lesson planning and maybe simplify the concept of Readers Theatre for you.
Included in the lesson plan are several suggested modifications and accommodations for the range of learners in any given class.
Over the past two weeks I have looked for teaching ideas, which incorporate drama. I wanted to take the novel we are studying, “The Magician’s Elephant” and use drama as a way for students to demonstrate their understanding. I have done tableau (still body shape and space to show a concept frozen in time) activities with students in the past, and find they enjoy the learning experience. While searching for ideas I came across the concept of taking a chapter and breaking it into sections, then dividing the class into groups, and assigning each group a chapter section. Groups then prepare tableaus to show for their chapter section. Each group has a narrator and while reading the chapter section the narrator pauses at specific places while the rest of the group forms their next tableau scene. By doing this students must carefully read their chapter sections and fully understand the literature. The activity allows students to take the written word and construct a visual representation of the story.
In class I created six groups ranging from 5-6 group members and assigned each group a section from two chapters. I provided the class with ample time to prepare and encouraged them to create props for their tableaus. Since I had not yet done a drama lesson with the class I wanted to support each group with their tableaus and worked for 10-15mins individually with each group. While working with each group I asked the narrator to stand in the position of the audience with me and watch the tableaus with a critical eye. When the narrator began to view the tableau from the eye of a director they began to see changes, which could be made to make the presentation clearer. As the teacher, I asked the narrator to see if there was anything confusing about the position of the characters, or if someone could not be clearly viewed by the audience. I encouraged them to work as a group and often had the narrator ask group members to move or confer with one another to ensure they were presenting the story as they envisioned it. Each group was responsible for three tableaus.
Lesson Notes: The students did very well with this activity and I was impressed with their performances, understanding of the book, and comprehension of my instruction. Doing tableaus showed me that I can make activities more challenging and could have assigned longer sections from the book, and five tableaus instead of three. Ultimately, drama can be an exciting and rewarding way for student to get involved with English; provide them the time to prepare and enjoy the final performances.
Ms. Kolshuk's Blog
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