Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Power of the Pause: Using Wait-Time to Push Students Deeper


Three effective ways to use wait-time to engage more students and get them thinking harder.
You've heard about it.

Or read about it.

Or tried it.

Or brushed it off as a waste of time.

Or maybe even use it regularly.

What? you wonder.

...(I'm pausing here on purpose. Don't worry.)...

...(Getting a bit awkward, I know. Stay with me.)...

Wait-time. (See what I did there?)

Wait-time is giving students, particularly a large group of them, time to think before calling on someone to respond aloud. In my blog post on Ways to Get Kids Deeper Into Text, I call it "Pause with Intention." Here, I want to zoom in on this idea of wait-time and show you the power it can have on how your students think. We'll pair some simple techniques with that nice long paaaaaaauuuuuuse, and we'll look at the different effects it has on your class.

The Pause

By itself, when you pause your instruction or dialogue with your students, what happens? And I'm not just talking about a wee little take-a-breath pause. I mean a drawn-out, five-Mississippi, capital-P Pause. One of two things pretty much always happens, depending on the student: for those whose minds were wandering a bit, an abrupt pause acts as a trigger to refocus (Wait, why isn't she talking? What did I miss?), and for those who heard what you said "pre-pause," they have a chance to process it.

So grabbing students' attention, and giving time to process... Let's go further now to see how we can use wait-time to its fullest, to get all students thinking harder, deeper, differently.

Here are three scenarios, each growing in complexity, to harness the power of a pause.

#1: The "Question, Pause, Rephrase, Pause"

This is a pretty simple way to use wait-time, but it brings together both of those common effects of a long pause: gaining attention and time to process. What we want to do is ask an open-ended question that has more than one answer. Then we pause. During this pause, we make eye contact with several students, walk the room a bit, and scrunch up our face and tilt our head like we are processing the question too.

After this first pause, we've got several students ready to respond. (We ignore them for now, even asking them to "hang on a sec" if their responses start leaking out.) We've got several more that have been mulling over the question, thinking about their response. And we've got several more that we've at least refocused because of our sudden silence.

Then we're going to rephrase our question. This gives those refocused students a second chance. It also gives the other students a chance to check their thinking against the rephrased question, giving confirmation, confidence. We give more wait-time, holding back the urge to fill the silence. And then finally, we give a few students the chance to share their thinking aloud.

It might go something like this: (during a lesson on visualizing story details) "So boys and girls, which details really help you imagine what is happening? ... pause ... pause ... (face scrunch, head tilt) ... "I see your hand, Kevin, hang on." ... pause ... (forward lean, scan of the room) ... pause ... "What did the author write that brings the story to life? ... pause ... pause ... pause ... "What are you thinking, Kristen?" (and the discussion continues from there).

#2: The "Pause First, then Invite"

This is not a very complicated technique; it's just maybe not as intuitive as the first. I love using this strategy during a novel read-aloud. As I'm reading to the class, I'm on the lookout for a poignant sentence or phrase, some little nugget dripping with meaning. And when I land on it, I go ahead and read it, but then immediately throw in a big pause. I look up from the book and scan the class, wide-eyed, like a bombshell was just dropped.

A few students instinctively pick up on the significance of the text just read, but most are staring right back at me wondering why I suddenly stopped. But it's my facial expression that convinces these students that I just read something worth stopping for.

Sometimes no question is needed to get students thinking deeply, just a well placed pause.

At this point, after the pause gets a bit awkward, I say, "Did you hear that, boys and girls? Let me read that again." And after rereading the important bit, I'll simply invite students to share their thinking.

#3: The "Boil it Down, Pause, & String 'em Along"

This technique is a little more complex, but really packs a punch. It works well during a discussion that revolves around an issue with multiple sides. At some point during the discussion, the idea is to boil down the issue to a vital yes-or-no question, followed by your pause. But here's the kicker: you do such a good job of getting the class to think about their answer to your yes/no question (drawn out pause, eye contact, scrunched face, etc.) that instead of sharing these answers aloud, you pull them right into additional branches of thought by asking follow-up questions.

It might go something like this: (during a social studies lesson on citizenship/voting) "So now that we've talked about the requirements to be able to vote, I have a question for you, boys and girls. Let's say that you meet all the voting requirements and it's election day, but you don't care for either candidate. Is it okay to just NOT vote? Think about that for a second. If you don't particularly like either candidate, should you even vote at all? ... pause ... pause ... pause ... pause ... (Here come the follow-up questions.) Hmm, should you even need to 'like' a candidate in order to vote for her/him? Maybe 'like' is the wrong word. What WOULD make you feel like you shouldn't vote? What if you didn't know much about the candidates? Should you vote then? Is that a good enough excuse? ... Jill, what are you thinking?" (discussion follows).

So I presented a critical question in a straightforward yes/no format, gave wait-time, then followed up with additional questions that expanded the topic.  

The point is, you are getting students to strengthen their thoughts prior to sharing aloud. Often when we start the conversation right away, only a few students participate, while the rest are content to disengage, nodding their head in agreement, but are let "off the hook" from thinking hard themselves. This way, you've given all students a fair chance to develop their own thinking.


Now with a little more knowledge of what you can do with something as simple as a pause, and an understanding of the effects it has on your students' thinking, you can better use wait-time to push your kids into deeper thought.

  ... pause ...  ;)

Come visit me at my blog, The Thinker Builder, for lots more ideas and tips to help you build readers and writers who think boldly and deeply. And check out some of my resources in my TPT store.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Making Partner Work Perfect!

teamwork
If you have followed the discussion over the past years about "21st Century Skills" or have been on this planet long enough, you know that the ability to work with others is just as important as any "content" knowledge that we, as teachers, can provide.

That being said, working "cooperatively" is NOT natural for all people, especially young children, and we have to make sure we are thoughtful about how we help students learn this valuable skill.  Today I thought I'd share three key things to keep in mind--and then offer a few suggestions to get your brain thinking about ways to incorporate more learning partnerships in YOUR classroom!


Partnerships are the perfect "starting point" for cooperative work!

 Think about how difficult it is for us, as adults, to get 4 or 5 of us to agree and be productive!  Young students simply haven't been around long enough to know how to do that "delicate dance" of sharing, contributing, listening, and more.  Learning how to actively listen is easier with just one other person.  Sharing with just one person is so much easier for student who are more shy--and it's easier to have a back and forth conversation than try to balance several people.  As students become accustomed to working with pairs, then it becomes easier to add people to the group.

When forming partnerships, be mindful of your students' feelings.  Be careful about the "find a partner" direction--because that is SO difficult for so many students.  Whether they be shy, slower thinkers, worried about other students' feelings--asking students to form partners on the fly is often a tricky situation.  Think about those who struggle finding partners and make sure everything is safe for them.

Ideas?  Use a "people picker" like popsicle sticks or index cards.  Premake partnerships whenever possible (in addition to avoiding popularity contests, this allows you to encourage students to work with MANY other students, not just best friends).  If you DO have students pick partners at times, consider a disclaimer, "If you don't find a partner in 15 seconds, come to me." so you can quickly help pair off those last few students.  My students get very used to working with EVERYONE in the class (males, females, tall, small, etc) and they actually REQUEST me to pick popsicle sticks to take the partnering process out of their hands.
student partnerships

 We need to explicitly TEACH partnering skills

Before I ask my students to work in partners, we have a number of discussions where we talk about what partnering LOOKS like, SOUNDS like, and WHY working in partnerships is beneficial.  Together we made a list that we continue to refer to as we refine our partnering skills.  The students did a pretty good job, I thought!  Consider making a similar list with your students to make sure they understand that partnering isn't always easy--but it's worth it!

As students start to work in pairs, you may need to stop and review some of these...and your students may come up with different ideas as well.  Students need to realize that partnering isn't easy--and they will have to work at it!  For some students, understanding that "balanced power" means that BOTH people have to share and both people have to listen is key--they can all relate to times they have had someone try to take over a group...and trying to work with someone who is NOT engaged or on task.
cooperation



So when should I use partnerships?

All day long!  Think about all the different ways that "Two heads" might be better than one...try some of these!  Creating a climate where students work peacefully together will help increase engagement, improve learning, and increase the amount of academic discourse in your classroom.  Another added bonus?  As students work well TOGETHER, you are free to circulate, coach, and get a better sense of what is happening with your students' learning.

Buddy reading

Whether your students read with younger students or with others in your class, learning to read so others can hear, taking turns, staying on task, and using an appropriate voice level are all easy to practice with buddy reading.  Try making copies of a fun poem for students to experiment with--or have them partner read an article. If you really want to dig in, have students read a novel as partners where they have discussions and buddy reading over an extended period of time.  They can even complete a culminating project together!

Checking for accuracy

One of the first "partner routines" my students learn as we start the school year is "check for accuracy".  I start this with basic math problems, math homework, and other tasks--where students work alone, then compare answers with a partner.  We then practice how to handle when answers are different...and learn how to re-solve the problem together to see who was wrong and how to "fix up" any mistakes together.  This really helps create a climate for collaboration, not competition and is a great way for students to check homework, to check over practice work, or to test the spelling of a tricky word!

"Turn and Talk"

One of the classic partner activities...and a GREAT way to get all students involved in discussions--turn and talk is a way for students to participate more frequently.  This DOES need to be explicitly taught as well.  If you simply say, "Turn and talk to a partner", you can sit back and watch certain students immediately turning to a best friend, other students sitting back and waiting to be asked (often ending up sitting silent)--and this doesn't lead to productive talk.  Teach students to turn and talk by first checking around them to "include" students (may mean creating a trio!) and to make sure that each partner has a chance to share their ideas.  This is a great way to get everyone talking--especially when asking questions ALL students should have access to.  Not all students will know the answer to all math problems...but everyone should be able to answer questions related to opinions...to read alouds ("What do you think Ally should do next?")...or other easily accessible ideas.

Math games

Math games are a fun and easy way to teach the give and take of partnering.  When students struggle, you can sit with them and coach the fair play and sportsmanship...but with games, the turn taking part is more automatic and students can work on some of the other factors such as voice level, on task behavior, using supplies wisely and more.
math workshop
This is one of the games in one of my "Partner Play" resources!  

Partner journals


One thing my students enjoy once in a while is what I call "partner journals".  You can do a lot of different things with this--but essentially in involves "sharing a notebook" to reflect back and forth on a read aloud, an article, a math problem--anything.  Check out THIS POST for more information.  It is a great way for students to realize that they write so that others can understand--and if they don't, communication breaks down.  Try it and see!

Challenge problems

Putting students in situations where they need to solve difficult problems can be a great way for partners to learn how to make suggestions, listen to ideas, and politely disagree.  When the answer isn't immediately obvious, it becomes clear that "two heads can be better than one"...and students can take their learning to higher levels.  What about when students WANT to work alone?  This is when coaching might be important...students need to see that other students might have great ideas, might help them find errors in their own thinking--and can make the entire process more fun!  
problem solving
My students did a great job partnering on this back to school shopping challenge!
algebra thinking challenge
These algebra thinking cards were MUCH easier when partners started working together!  The math discussions they had were fantastic--and they found lots of misconceptions and mistakes they were making as they worked!  My favorite quote?  "I knew I could  never do math this hard by myself!"

And so much more!

These are just a few suggestions to get your students working in pairs--but there are so many more!  Keep stressing how important collaboration is--and how it takes practice to get good at it...but when we ARE good at it, working together can be so much fun!



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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

5 Benefits of Weekly Reflections


Weekly Reflections are a great way for students to take a look back at their week and reflect on what they learned, how they were successful, what challenges they faced, and what goals they would like to set, moving forward. Weekly Reflections allow students to take the wheel and show ownership over their learning. In this post I will mostly be referring to a Weekly Reflection booklet that I created for use in my own upper elementary classroom. You can click HERE to download a free copy. Completing these reflections only takes about 15 to 20 minutes at the end of each week, but the benefits are well worth the time investment. Here are 5 benefits that I have found for having students complete these reflections each week...



First of all, weekly reflections give students the opportunity to celebrate successes each week, whether big or small. A student may have finally finished a challenging book that they have been working on, or finally mastered their x8 multiplication facts. No matter what it is, it is important that students have the chance to acknowledge their growth and learning, and the different ways they are successful throughout the year. Focusing on a success each week shows students that their hard work and effort is paying off. It also gives students the confidence they need to take on other challenges!


While addressing challenges is not as rewarding for students as celebrating their successes, it is still a very important part of weekly reflections. Students need to be able to identify what is challenging for them, in order to learn and grow. This is the perfect opportunity for students to communicate to themselves, their teachers, and their parents, exactly what they find to be challenging. Once these challenges are acknowledged, all involved can work together to address those challenges, and make a plan to overcome them. 


It is so important that students know what behaviors are expected of them at school. However, it is just as important that students are able to evaluate their own behaviors, and how those behaviors impact their learning and the learning of others. In this particular booklet, students rate their classroom behavior and work habits on scale from 1 to 5. When doing this they are able to acknowledge how well they did with each of these behaviors. This is also a great communication piece for parents, giving them a chance to discuss specific behaviors with their children, and to set expectations for the following week.




Once students are able to reflect on their successes, challenges, work habits, and behavior, this leads to the perfect opportunity for them to set short term goals for the next week. They might decide to focus on what was challenging for them that week, or focus on behaviors where they might need some improvement. Students might also choose to focus on something specific for that week, like a test or project that might be due. One of the most important parts of student goal setting, is that they also state how they plan to achieve their goals for the next week.



As a mom and a teacher, I know all too well that students are not always the best about communicating what happened at school each day. I have heard far too many "goods" and "fines" when asking my own kiddos about their school days. Weekly reflections are the perfect way for students to share what they are learning each week. They open up conversations about what's going on in the classroom, and students can then share their successes, challenges, and goals for the following week.

I truly think the most important benefit to weekly reflections are the conversations that students get to have with their parents and teachers. Weekly reflections puts everyone on the same page, and parents and teachers are able to reflect along with their students.

If you are not already using a reflection piece with your students, I urge you to give it a try. Click the pic below to download a Weekly Reflection Booklet to use in your own classroom. I guarantee that you will see these same benefit with your own students!!

    

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

5 Tips for Teachers Struggling with Behavior Management

Are you struggling with behavior management in your elementary classroom? This article will share 5 tips that will help teachers effectively manage their classrooms and provide students with more time on task and increased learning.

Having strong classroom management skills greatly increases a teacher’s effectiveness. The students have more time on task and more positive learning experiences when there are procedures and routines in place that enable the room to “run itself.” Consistency and clear expectations are the key to proactively avoiding most potential behavior issues.

One component of an effective classroom management plan is having strategies to help modify student behaviors and encourage students to make smart choices. Most teachers have tried and true behavior management systems they have used year after year. However, different cohorts and individual children may require something different from the norm. This blog post will provide you with tips on what to do if your current classroom behavior plan isn’t effective.
Are you struggling with behavior management in your elementary classroom? This article will share 5 tips that will help teachers effectively manage their classrooms and provide students with more time on task and increased learning.

#1 Analyze why your current behavior system isn’t working.

Sometimes the behavior strategies that worked great for a few years don’t work with your current class. See if you can figure out why. A colleague, puzzled by the fact that her marble jar didn’t motivate her kids, suddenly realized more than half her class were the youngest siblings in their families. Because they had older brothers and sisters and were exposed to more mature concepts, they felt it was too babyish for them. As a third grade teacher I had used a clip chart and thought it was magical, but after they were implemented school-wide, the chart lost its power because they had used it for three years prior. Sometimes it isn't the system, but the cohort of kids you are using it with. Put it away, experiment with something new and maybe try it again next year.

#2 Reflect honestly on how you are using your behavior plan.

Kids are perceptive. Last year my son and his friends shared an observation with me they had made about one of their teacher's use of the clip chart. They said, “There is only one girl in the class that the teacher has ever told to clip up. She only uses the chart to clip people down, but she never has anyone clip down to contact home.” That certainly isn't motivating to them. If you are associating rewards or punishments with your behavior plan are you fulfilling those promises consistently? Did you implement an elaborate classroom system with tokens as rewards but struggle to find time to actually open the classroom store you said they could shop at with the tokens? If the problem is with how you are using your system see if there is room for improvement.

#3 Mix up how you are managing student behaviors.

I said consistency is the key and that is true, but it doesn’t mean you can’t add in some variety. I had great success with introducing new positive behavior incentive plans at the start of each month. One month we did paper chains and the next we did Teamwork Bingo. Keeping things fresh and interesting motivates kids. This works especially well with whole class plans vs individual plans.

Are you struggling with behavior management in your elementary classroom? This article will share 5 tips that will help teachers effectively manage their classrooms and provide students with more time on task and increased learning.

#4 Be honest and open with the class.

What better way to model a growth mindset and encourage risk taking than by modeling it yourself. Hold a class meeting and discuss what you are seeing. Ask them to share their thoughts and reflections. Talk about why a change is needed. Collaborate with them on what the classroom community should do instead.

#5 Be sure you are regularly communicating with the students’ families.

Too often teachers will only contact home when a child has done something wrong. Establishing a system that builds in daily communication between home and school will automatically increase student accountability. Some teachers prefer (and some schools require) teachers to implement a behavior plan that is individualized and discrete. I created a system that met both of those goals and streamlined the process of communicating a child’s behavior to their family daily. I made a daily calendar/behavior log with numbers that directly related to my expectations. Each student had a monthly calendar in his daily communication folder. 
Are you struggling with behavior management in your elementary classroom? This article will share 5 tips that will help teachers effectively manage their classrooms and provide students with more time on task and increased learning.
{click to access and download}
If a child was not “meeting a classroom expectation,” I quietly addressed it by verbally reminding him of the expectation that he was not following. For example “You are expected to be on task during independent work time.” I then record the #7 on my whole-class chart. If the behavior continues I would state, “I reminded you that the expectation is to be on task during independent work. Let's add it to your calendar as a goal to work on.” I then circle the #7 on my chart which signifies that I will be recording it on his calendar. 
If the same behavior continues throughout the day, I add tally marks next to the number. This shows the parent what the child’s day looked like. In the event that a child exhibits repeated behaviors or demonstrates a behavior that is dangerous, destructive or considered to be "bully-like" they complete a goal sheet. The goal sheet communicates more about the incident to the family and, most importantly, it is in the child's words. 
I explain that because these are “expectations,” we don’t need to write on the calendar if they are doing what is expected. I don’t tie in extrinsic rewards because I think it is important for them to adhere to our established guidelines. The goal should be to do what is expected of them as members of a learning community, not just to earn a prize. This system provides data which is so important when grading report cards or participating in team meetings for a child. It allows teachers to analyze specific students and it provides the parents with a record of the day. Best of all it is quick, easy and not at all intrusive to the school day.
I encourage you to try it in your own classroom either with your whole class or a student who may need extra behavioral support. If you would like to save time, I have created a downloadable resource that will get you started quickly right away. It's available on it's own or as part of a bundle that also includes a comprehensive guide to classroom management, a teacher workbook for planning out procedures and routines and 29 other printable tools for improving classroom management.
Are you struggling with behavior management in your elementary classroom? This article will share 5 tips that will help teachers effectively manage their classrooms and provide students with more time on task and increased learning.
{Click to Access and Download}

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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Character Traits: A Lesson for Upper Elementary Students

Hi there! It’s Deb Hanson from Crafting Connections, and I’m going to share a free character traits lesson with you today. This lesson is based on one I did a few years ago for a formal observation. My principal at the time loved the lesson… I hope you will, too! If you do decide that you want to try this activity with your students, be sure to click on the following image. Everything you need for this lesson is FREE! (Well, almost everything… you’ll have to provide your own anchor chart paper and cups! :))
Teach character traits with this character traits anchor chart and FREE activity! Ideal for the upper elementary classroom.


I almost always start my ELA units with a PowerPoint presentation to introduce the topic. Therefore, the lesson I am describing would occur on Day 2 of our character traits study. Prior to class, I would create the base of my character traits anchor chart. To start the lesson, I would use the anchor chart to review how good readers analyze clues provided by the author in order to infer character traits.
Character Traits Anchor Chart... plus a FREE character traits printable activity is also included!
Next, I would read four short passages, and ask students to determine whether the character trait clue provided by the author was an example of a character’s feelings, actions, dialogue, or thoughts. After gluing (or taping) the passage onto the anchor chart, students would infer a character trait for the character described in each passage, and this sentence would be written on the anchor chart below each passage.
Character Traits Anchor Chart... plus a FREE character traits printable activity is also included!

The next component of this lesson is my favorite part! I would present six plastic cups by spreading them across a table or chalkboard tray. As you can see, the cups have been labeled with various character traits. (I chose these particular traits because many young adult chapter books include characters with these traits, and I wanted to introduce my students to more advanced vocabulary.) I also have the small strips of card stock printed and cut apart. These strips contain very short reading passages.
Teach character traits with this FREE character traits activity! Ideal lesson for the upper elementary classroom. A character traits anchor chart is also included!

After discussing the meanings of the words printed on the cups, I would tell students to listen as I read aloud one of the strips. (I would also use a document camera to display the strips so my students could follow along.) Students will need to match the story to one of the character traits. To make sure everyone remains engaged, I would instruct students to display each answer by holding up fingers… 1 finger for optimistic, two fingers for pessimistic, three fingers for insensitive, etc. After inferring each character trait, I would ask the students to determine whether the clue was an example of a character’s feelings, actions, dialogue, or thoughts. Then, the strip would be dropped into the cup. Once the strips have all been classified, your cups will look like this:
Teach character traits with this FREE character traits activity! Ideal lesson for the upper elementary classroom. A character traits anchor chart is also included!

Finally, I would have my students add the following foldable to their reading notebooks. Students can refer to the anchor chart as they label the foldable. After gluing the foldable in their notebook, students will use a book that they are currently reading or have finished reading recently, and write under each flap how they were able to use that label (dialogue, for example) to infer a character trait. They will write down evidence from the text to support their answer. Providing the following sentence frame may be necessary for some students, especially English Language Learners:  I inferred that (character’s name) is (character trait) because (text evidence).
Teach character traits with this FREE character traits activity! It includes three components: a character traits anchor chart, lesson, and interactive notebook printable!

If you are looking for additional resources for teaching character traits to your upper elementary students, feel free to check out the following resources.

Character Traits! A variety of resources for teaching about character traits in the upper elementary classroom!


Thanks for stopping by today! 


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

5 Reasons You Should Use Project-based Learning to Teach Your Math Standards

Project-based learning Math

After teaching my math standards with project-based learning for the last 5 years, I can honestly say that I will never go back. My students have never been more engaged, and I've never had so much fun teaching! 

Not sure what project-based learning is? Read this blog post first!


PBL is easy to plan.

With project-based learning, you don't need countless worksheets and activities for students to complete. You need a really high-interest topic and a few guidelines for where you want the project to go. The point is to make the activities as real-life as possible, so you won't need everything scheduled minute by minute. 

When I plan my PBL for math, I sit down with my planning guide and my standards for math, reading, writing, social studies, and science. My goal is to make connections in all subject areas. From there I can plan a week of all subjects in less than an hour!



Your students will be engaged!

Something I noticed about PBL is that my students are rarely sitting. They're moving around getting supplies, discussing, and doing calculations on the run. The student talk that I used to force them to do happens naturally during PBL. They learn organization and problem solving skills. They're working on something that interests them and that matters.

A rome-themed PBL with my 6th grade class

You can easily differentiate.

I make individual modifications during PBL every day, and it's easy! When I used to plan regular lessons I was at a loss at how to differentiate for 30+ different students and different levels. Now it happens on the fly as I observe each student's individual process. No extra planning, no extra copies. 

Sometimes I do pre-plan some differentiation. With my third graders, I had some advanced students that had mastered addition and were ready to move on. We tried working with adding decimals in our Fast Food Restaurant PBL!


You can hit multiple standards at once.

You spiral standards on warm-ups, in centers, and whenever else you have free time. Project-based learning allows you to not only practice several standards at once, but it shows how math fits together in real life! You can use PBL to teach these standards or practice standards that have already been taught.

In my free back to school PBL, I incorporate graphing, multiplication, division, and writing!



Your administrators will love it.

Your administrators will walk in your room and see kids excited about math, totally engrossed in their project. You'll check off all the boxes: engagement, vocabulary, student talk, and more!

Ready to start? Grab your PBL planning guide for free here!


Sunday, September 4, 2016

5 Reasons You Should be Using Reader's Theater in Your Classroom

       
         I'm not gonna lie to you...Reader's theaters are a lot of fun! They're fun for my students and they're fun for me. But the best part about adding them to your reading program is that besides being fun, readers theaters can help your students in a number of ways. Here's how:

1. Reader's Theater Engages Students
       Introduce an entertaining script to your students and magically, even reluctant readers are hooked! Most kids really enjoy being able to be involved in this "fun" kind of reading.

2. Reader's Theater Strengthens Fluency
        One of the great things about reader's theater is that the very nature of reader's theater (practicing the script several times to perform it) allows struggling students the opportunity to re-read the same material for an authentic purpose. This repeated exposure helps develop the fluency skills that will allow students to focus less on the phonetics of reading and more on meaning.

3. Reader's Theater Creates Confidence in Reading
        One of the things I love about reader's theater is that the scripts are usually short enough that the text is manageable for challenged readers. Kids who may normally be hesitant to read in front of the class may feel more confident with a script that they have practiced and perfected over several re-readings. This mastery of the text can boost the student's confidence to read more successfully as an independent reader.

4. Reader's Theater Provides a Real Purpose for Reading
        Kids who love to read will continue to love to read. They will seek out book after book to satisfy the "turn the page" craving. Their purpose for reading is the built-in enjoyment. But for the kids who don't love reading, providing them with the opportunity to do a play, and to perform it for "Mrs. Peabody's first grade class" makes a non-reader's mind see a real life reason to put more effort into reading. The hope is that if we can hook readers in this way, perhaps they will start to feel differently about reading.

5. Reader's Theater Provides Opportunities for Cooperative Learning
        Besides helping our students grow academically, most teachers want to help kids grow socially and emotionally. Reader's theater is a great place for kids to practice working with other people for a common goal. Besides mastering the basics of the script, kids will need to be able to take turns, to communicate with one another, and to listen to one another.

       Adding reader's theaters to your classroom is a great way to add variety to your reading program. There are lots of good scripts for students, and you can surely make up your own. If you'd like a ready-made script, I do have several that I've created: I Wanna be a Rock Star, Solar System, and a Weather play. I actually create them as big end of the year performances for the entire school, as well as my student's parents but they're also great to use in the classroom as a reading resource or to supplement science units (they're loaded with scientific information but are fun!). Each script is kid-approved and comes with very complete teacher notes!




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