Reader's Theater

Katrin Beinroth & Kim Leimer, International Charter School, Pawtucket, RI


Program Background Unit Plan Lesson Plan Teaching the Lesson
Grade: Fourth
Content Area: Reading
Time Frame of Unit: Ten 90-minute lessons
Language(s) of Lessons: English for 5 days, Spanish for 5 days
Unit Theme: Understanding Characters


Standards to Be Addressed

New England Common Assessment Program Reading Grade Level Expectations (June 2004 draft)

International Charter School Grade Level Expectations朣peaking and Listening

Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century


Guiding Questions


Big Ideas


Background/Prior Knowledge to be Activated in the Unit



Content Area Skills and Concepts


Language Skills


Teaching/Learning Activities

Day 1: Students browse through a selection of scripts for Readers Theater. The teacher guides a class discussion to identify the elements of Readers Theater and to help students understand how to use the scripts. Students form groups of six with at least one English dominant speaker in each group. Each member of the group receives a copy of the script for the play A Baker抯 Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale by Aaron Shepard. The play has two speaking roles and four narrators. In their groups, students read through their scripts, choose parts, and mark their lines to practice as homework.

Day 2: The students gain an understanding of the characters by identifying words and phrases that suggest character traits, sketching their mental image of the characters, discussing their sketches, and rereading their scripts aloud with appropriate expression. They compare the character of St. Nicholas and the Dutch St. Nicholas celebration in the play to other cultures traditions.

Day 3: Students form new groups, and each group chooses a Readers Theatre script. The size of each group matches the number of characters in the script. In their groups, students read through their scripts, choose parts, and mark their lines to practice as homework.

Day 4: In their groups, students read through their scripts aloud, and discuss the plot, focusing on characters motivations and interactions. Students practice reading their scripts with expression. They also complete a written response to the script focusing on their mental image of the characters. The teacher circulates among the groups to provide language support.

Day 5: Whole-class performance; students offer feedback on performances.

Days 6-10: The process is repeated in the other language (Spanish) with different texts. The cultural focus throughout the Spanish cycle is on values and beliefs. As much as possible, the teacher focuses attention on beliefs and values that help to explain the behavior of the characters, and encourages the class to consider the extent to which these beliefs and values are the same or different across cultures.

Follow-up: The class performs several plays for other classes.

Throughout the cycle, the teacher provides mini-lessons as needed on the following areas:




Online Resources:



Both self-assessment and teacher assessment rubrics are used to assess students understanding of the content and language objectives. Written responses from days two and four should be assessed with regard to students use of information given in the text to infer their characterizations. Self-assessment rubrics for the performance evaluate the student抯 success in reading aloud with appropriate expression and fluency.


Teacher checklist for group work, noting how well students are able to work cooperatively with their peers and to provide constructive feedback to each other.