I ask the class to explain to me what a reader's theater is. They have practiced this before, because the class is very good at giving me information about reader's theater. The class also includes examples of when they have read in one before.
Before I assign roles, I tell the class that a reader's theater has a purpose. It is to help them develop a better understanding for the reading. It also gives them a method for practicing fluency and adding expression. They have to pay better attention to the punctuation or they will lose their audience.
To go over the expectations, I tell the class that when I assign them a role they need to circle the character they are and find their parts on both sides of the paper. There are 8 parts to the theater so I will have multiple groups. I hand out the papers and assign each student a role. Before moving to the next student I make sure they circle their character.
Before breaking them into groups, I have them read their part at their desks. They need to make sure they have found all their parts and have had time to work out any unknown words. This is to take some of the fear of reading in front of their peers away. Shy students can make sure they are ready before reading in their group.
Once they have had time to practice, they will now get into their groups. I ask them to sit in a circle to keep them focused on the reading and so that their voices project to their group. I ask them to read the theater three times thru. First they just need to work on reading each of their parts in order. The second and third reading is to work on expression and fluency.
Practice is complete so now they need to present. Each group will present to the class. I allow the directors to line up their cast as they feel would be best to follow the play. I remind them that the most important part of presenting is to be heard so they audience can understand. The other groups will follow along as they read.
When each group has presented, I lead a small and quick discussion reflecting on the reader's theater process. Students really enjoyed doing this and they asked to do it again. They also thought that having director kept everyone on task and made their performance better.