How Readers Theater Teach ALL Multiple IntelligencesThe Best Cooperative Learning Projects for English Language Learners: Readers Theaters

I watched some of my quietest, most hesitant English Language Learners come alive onstage through the process of Readers Theaters.  They expressed their reading comprehension with detailed artwork and captions on their scripts, became engaged and diligent about practicing their lines with careful pronunciation and powerful expression, and students from many different countries worked together as a team. 

Why are Readers Theaters Valuable?

Readers Theaters are script-based reading projects that build reading and speaking confidence, pronunciation, expression and volume, listening, teamwork, and a variety of reading skills. While useful for all readers, they are especially beneficial for English Language Learners because they combine all four domains of language learning: reading, writing, speaking, and listening.  

Being that Readers Theaters encompass so many different skills, they also engage all different kinds of learners because they address the learning styles of many different Multiple Intelligences:

Linguistic Learners

    • Linguistic learners are skilled with using words. They have highly developed auditory skills and often think in words. They like reading, writing, and playing word games. Linguistic learners easily learn by reading together because they’re both seeing and saying the words, which is practiced in Readers Theaters.
    • Interpersonal Learners
  • Interpersonal learners thrive when interacting with others and enjoy group activities and dialogues.  Being that Readers Theaters are group activities, they allow learners to collaborate and respond to each other, making it necessary to pay extra attention to the speaking and listening of each other.Visual-Spatial Learners
  • Visual-Spatial learners like learning through visuals such as their own art and imagination, photos, models, diagrams, puzzles, maps, and graphics. When Readers Theater scripts are made with boxes for illustrating the text, Visual-Spatial learners develop great reading comprehension skills because they put great thought into portraying the text through the images they create.Bodily-Kinesthetic Learners
  • Bodily-kinesthetic learners learn through movement, making things, and touching. They communicate well through body language and learn through physical activity, hands-on learning, acting out, role playing– all which can be expressed while being active on stage performing a Readers Theater.  How Readers Theaters Teach ALL Multiple Intelligences
    Musical Learners
  • Musical learners are skilled in awareness of rhythm and sound. They enjoy activities like turning content into lyrics, speaking rhythmically, tapping out time, which is easy to do through the vocal process of performing Readers Theaters– especially when poems are performed.  They would also learn through identifying areas in which the text calls for different speeds and volumes of speech.

    Intrapersonal Learners
  • Intrapersonal learners learn through understanding their own feelings, interests, goals. They have strong opinions, wisdom, and confidence, which they can display when performing in Readers Theaters. When Readers Theater scripts are made with illustration boxes with lines for captions, and open-ended reading comprehension questions encouraging connections, intrapersonal learners are able to express their reactions to the text.Logical-Mathematical Learners
  • Logical-Mathematical learners think conceptually and abstractly and are able to see and explore patterns and relationships. Being that they learn and form concepts before attention to detail, these learners will benefit from highlighting and answering reading comprehension questions about themes and patterns in the text, and noticing how those patterns might necessitate different speeds and volumes of speech.

Explicit Reading Skills

 Readers Theaters can be even more powerful with explicit teaching of skills such as: reading comprehension strategies, text features, literary devices, parts of speech, genre characteristics, etc. Students can be involved in the preparation of the script they’ll be using for their Readers Theater by adding illustrations, captions, and other non-fiction text features.

My Readers Theaters are designed to incorporate a balance between the four domains of language learning (Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening); the Multiple Intelligences; and explicit teaching of skills such as: reading comprehension strategies, text features, literary devices, parts of speech, genre characteristics, etc. Students can be involved in the preparation of the script they’ll be using for their Readers Theater by adding illustrations, captions, and other non-fiction text features.

Choosing Mentor Texts

When beginning a Readers Theater project, I first choose an engaging mentor text; a book, poem or other excerpt of text that I know includes a lot of emotion, therefore giving participants opportunities to speak with a lot of expression.  For example, I made a (FREE) Readers Theater for Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak because (besides the fact it’s a childhood favorite of so many) the repetition of lines such as “roared their terrible roars”, “gnashed their terrible teeth, and “showed their terrible claws” encourage performers to be loud and lively.  (This is one of the FREE Readers Theaters Scripts you can find on my “Resources” page!) 

MENTOR TEXTS  

FREE The Great Kapok Tree Readers Theater for English Language Learners  I created a Readers Theater for The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry because the many animal characters allowed great emotion as they were each begging the man to not cut down their tree. Plus, the abundance of animal characters made it easy to give script parts to a large group of students. 

The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss Readers Theater for English Language Learners I created a Readers Theater for The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss because Dr. Seuss’s tongue twister words are fun and great reading practice for all, especially English Language Learners working on articulation.  Plus, the rhythm of Dr. Seuss’s poetic style is especially appealing to musical learners.

Close Reading

Before students even work on their Readers Theaters scripts, we read the book or passage multiple times using the thoughtful, critical analysis of Close Reading.  Reading the text multiple times not only gives students exposure to the text, but also careful listening for specific targeted purposes.  This can entail turn-and-talks/ think-pair-share while also having individual time to demonstrate examples of a particular reading comprehension strategy on graphic organizers.

My students work on vocabulary through graphic organizers or, depending on the level, fill-in-the-blank vocabulary sheets with word banks that I make for specific texts. 

Non-Fiction Text Features

I involve students in the preparation of the Readers Theater script as much as possible by adding illustrations, captions, and other non-fiction text features.  Preparation of the Readers Theater script can also entail dividing up the passage’s lines into speaking parts for however many performers will be part of the performance.  A lot of highlighting is done on the script to identify one’s speaking parts, targeted vocabulary, or words that get to be stressed with extra expression and volume.

Students are given ample time to work on their scripts, highlighting vocabulary words, adding images to express their “Creating Images” reading comprehension strategy, adding summarizing captions to the images, dividing up and highlighting speaking parts, and reading performance practice within groups. While students are working on script preparation and practice, this gives the instructor time to work with individual groups or students.

Feedback and Reflection

Once students have had time to practice performing their parts in groups, I have them perform in front of a practice audience. To make this practice time more valuable, I instruct the practice audience to give valuable feedback in the form of a Readers Theater RUBRIC/FEEDBACK FORM in which audience members can give balanced feedback to individual performers before the final performance.  

After the practice performance, all performers fill out a  Readers Theater Student Reflection Sheet in which they acknowledge their growth, identify areas for future growth, and explain how these skills will help them in the future.  

Please Share with us!

What are your favorite Reading Skills to target through Reader’s Theaters?

What are your favorite Readers Theater books/texts to perform? 


Katarina Gleisberg

At ELLTeacherShare.com you can find a balance of all four Language Learning domains–Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening—while honoring the Multiple Intelligences. With ten years of experience English teaching and training English teachers in three countries; for public schools, private schools, and teaching adult refugees in the non-profit setting, ELLTeacherShare.com is my ever-growing collection of teaching resources! My lessons focus on individuals, the expression of themselves, and their cultures. I know that students learn best once their emotional needs have been met. Check out my Guided Mindful Meditation techniques that benefit both students AND teachers.

1 Comment

How to Balance the 4 Domains of Language Learning: Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening  - Katarina Gleisberg, Mindful Teacher · August 30, 2019 at 6:42 pm

[…] of my favorite, well-rounded activities is Readers Theaters, which I describe in the blog post, The Best Cooperative Learning Projects for English Language Learners: Readers Theaters. I use classic, fun books, such as Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice […]

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