Making Reading Child's Play Reader's Theaters Promote Comprehension, Interest for Huntley Students

By Williams, Amy E. | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 9, 2007 | Go to article overview

Making Reading Child's Play Reader's Theaters Promote Comprehension, Interest for Huntley Students


Williams, Amy E., Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Amy E. Williams Daily Herald Correspondent

There is no scenery in the play.

And there are no costumes.

The only props the students have are their voices, their scripts and their ability to read.

As teachers across Huntley Unit District 158 stress the importance of reading, they are using Reader's Theaters to help their students increase their fluency, comprehension and interest in reading, as well as their self-esteem.

By performing plays and skits through Reader's Theaters, and focusing primarily on the words they're reading, the students are able to improve their abilities, and have fun at the same time. This, in turn, helps them enjoy reading more, Conley Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Edie Williams said.

This month, the fourth graders at Conley have been showcasing their Reader's Theater performances of "The Ant and the Grasshopper" and "A Sheep in Wolf's Clothing" for one another and for the community.

Teachers purchased the scripts this school year with a $785 grant from the Education Foundation for Huntley Area Schools.

The scripts are targeted to students of a broad range of reading skill levels, and students get their parts based on their reading level.

The students first practice their plays and their individual parts in guided reading groups at school with the help of their teacher. Once they feel comfortable with the script, Williams said, they perform it for their class.

"They are required to portray their character with the use of their voice alone," Williams said.

The special scripts purchased with the grant from the foundation have the different parts highlighted for the students in different colors, and have different parts available for all of the different reading levels; this allows readers of all skill levels to perform together, Williams said.

"This adds variety to the group and exposes lower-level readers to more fluent, expressive readers as well," she said. "Students are able to practice fluency, expression, public speaking, gaining understanding of a character's feelings and comprehension - all while they are having a blast."

Each of the scripts also has a lesson or moral to learn and discuss at the end, Williams said. …

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