Friday, January 4, 2013

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Reader's Theater - Giving Students a Reason to Read Aloud

The reader's theater strategy blends students' desire to perform with their need for oral reading practice. Reader's Theater offers an entertaining and engaging means of improving fluency and enhancing comprehension.

What is reader's theater? It's a way to involve students in reading aloud. In reader's theater, students "perform" by reading scripts created from grade-level books or stories. Usually they do so without costumes or props.
Reader's theater is a strategy that combines reading practice and performing. Its goal is to enhance students' reading skills and confidence by having them practice reading with a purpose. Reader's theater gives students a real reason to read aloud.
Reader's theater motivates reluctant readers and provides fluent readers the opportunity to explore genre and characterization.

(Susan Finney, a retired educator & an author)
"A great deal of fluency research reiterates the need for repeated reading. Without fluency there is little comprehension. The value of reader's theater is increased tenfold when used as a strategy for increasing understanding of what is being read." 

(Dr. Peggy Sharp, a former classroom teacher and library media specialist)
"Reader's theater is a wonderful technique for helping readers learn to read aloud with expression. I especially like to perform reader's theater without props so the readers learn that the expression in their voices needs to provide much of the drama of the story."

(Judy Freeman, a children's literature consultant)
"If you're searching for a way to get your children reading aloud with comprehension, expression, fluency, and joy, reader's theater is a miracle. Hand out a photocopied play script, assign a part to each child, and have them simply read the script aloud and act it out. That's it. And then magic happens."

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Implementing Reader's Theater

Tips for teachers who would like to implement Reader's Theater in the class.

Reader's Theater: Fluency and Comprehension

"Without fluency, there is little comprehension"

What is reading fluency?

Fluency is the ability to read a text accurately, quickly, and with expression. Fluency is important because it provides a bridge between word recognition and comprehension.

Why is fluency important?

When fluent readers read silently, they recognize words automatically. They group words quickly to help them gain meaning from what they read. Fluent readers read aloud effortlessly and with expression. Their reading sounds natural, as if they are speaking. Readers who have not yet developed fluency read slowly, word by word. Their oral reading is choppy.

Reading fluency is important because it provides a bridge between word recognition and reading comprehension. Since fluent readers don’t have to concentrate on decoding the actual words, they can focus their attention on what the text actually means. They can make mental connections throughout the text, as well as apply those connections to their personal backgrounds and experiences. Simply, fluent readers recognize the words and comprehend their overall meaning at the same time.

The Struggle to Achieve Reading Fluency

Reading fluency is a significant struggle for many. The less fluent a reader, the more he or she must focus on decoding individual words. Less fluent readers have difficulty with oral reading, which is often slow, choppy, and without natural expression. Less fluent readers must focus their time and attention on figuring out the words, leaving little room for actually understanding the text. Since reading fluency is the key to reading comprehension, less fluent readers often fall behind in educational and professional achievement. 

Although some readers identify words well when those words are alone or on a list, they may not read the same words fluently when they appear in a passage of text. Automatic word recognition is an important reading skill, but it’s not the end of the story. It’s crucial to help students move from word recognition in isolation to reading fluency in context. This takes training and practice.

The Power of Reading Out Loud

Students who read and reread passages orally as they receive guidance and feedback become better readers. Indeed, repeated oral reading significantly improves reading fluency for a lifetime. Therefore, it’s important to understand your student’s strengths and weaknesses on the reading fluency scale.