Sunday, August 12, 2012

Joy of School Library Lessons

There are few moments more joyful for the students and the librarian than when the class has finished a Readers Theater where EVERY student has successfully read his or her part. Each student's part is carefully selected by the librarian to push the student just a little above his or her reading level. Sometimes the student is assigned a choral reading with 2, 3, 4, or 5 classmates. For some this is a necessary confidence builder. Sometimes the student has a part alone. The first few readings are a little nerve racking for some, but once students see that no one will make fun of their skills or their voice they enjoy the process. Students learn the strategies for effective readers theater, namely reading with expression, reading loud enough for all to hear, standing up straight, listening while others read, and following all the parts, not just their own. After experiencing a few Readers Theaters with their class, students often burst out clapping at the end. By the end of the year when they have a choice day, they may choose to do a readers theater. They gather a group of students, pick a script, sit in a circle, assign parts, and read with expression, all without assistance of the librarian. As a community of learners, students go back to class with a smile on their face. Can you think of other strategies to help students appreciate the joy of reading?

Speech and visual and performing arts are part of the new California Common Core Standards.  I soon realized it was best to write or adapt an online readers theater so that there were parts where a group of students could read together. Sometimes the group was as small as two students and sometimes as many as five. This ensured that every student had a part. This is really critical for readers theater. There should be no students just listening. Having everyone read ensures students are following the script and listening to the class.  Plus students learning from other students is the best way for the class to realize how to use their voice effectively when reading.

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