Readers Theater with Karen Rowan was exciting! She opened the session with this song. She divided the class into two teams. Half of the class sang a line of the song as Don Quijote. We sang, “Yo soy yo Don Quijote”. She had it posted on the board too so we could see the text. Then the other half of the class sang Sancho’s part. Each team had a leader and it became a competition to see who could sing better. What a fun way to introduce Readers Theater. As we acted out the scene, every time the name Don Quijote came up, we had to sing, ‘Yo so yo Don Quijote” and when the name Sancho was spoken, the other half of the class had to sing their part. I had never thought about using music in this way during Readers Theater. What a great idea!
I really liked how Karen asked us if we are teaching in flow. If you are unsure of what being in flow means, check out this video. She asked us if our students felt like they were in flow when they were in our classes. This is a wonderful question for all teachers to reflect upon. If we do not feel the flow, it is time for a change. Readers Theater is a great way to get your students in flow because it makes reading come alive and everyone is in flow at the same time. Our goal is to make students forget they are reading. How can we do this? By using comprehensible Spanish! How comprehensible? Well Krashen had just explained in the session earlier that it should be about 95% comprehensible. Check out this awesome resource by Marcos Benevides to see how well you would do with a 90% comprehensible text here.
The first step of using Readers Theater is finding a compelling and comprehensible text for your students. Once you do that, check out the tips Karen shared with us today after we acted out the scene from her novel “Don Quijote”.
-All novels have an intentional scene or more to use for Readers Theater.
-Use sound effects! For example when a horse is running, have students tap on the desk in unison to make the sound come alive.
-Give stage directions in the target language.
-Use the sound effect of a clap to signal “de repente” or “suddenly” in your L2.
-Use gestures! We had two students moving their arms to recreate the windmill which really helps students visualize the scene.
-Sing or act out the scenes with “camera lenta” or “camera super rapida” where they reinact the scene slowly or quickly for novelty and fun.
-Make sure you get energy from the class. Coach your students. Do not let energy be low, because it will stay that way for the rest of the year.
-Have a class photographer to photograph the event. Use these pictures to retell the story. I used this strategy all year in my classes and students loved the personalization of the photos for their retells. To learn more, check out Martina Bex’s post about Freeze Frame here.
-Use lots of props. Karen used a horse, shield, foam sword and hat for Don Quijote. She even had the students’ lines cut out on cardboard so that they could read it on one side and the class could follow along on the other side.
-Preteach structures before you do Readers Theater.
-She told us about and had us act out “All the World Is a Stage”. I have never done this in my classes so I am excited to try it out this year. Next you must have a no talking rule. If you don’t the teacher will have to shout over 30 students. Make groups of 2-3. The person closest to one side of the room is Don Quijote and the person closest to the other side of room will be Sancho. If there is an extra person they represent the props. As the teacher reads the script, the students act out their roles with no speaking.
-Find your natural actors and singers and utilize their natural talent early on.
-Coach melodramatic acting, inflection, energy, body position and to maintain space.
I love that Readers Theater is is a low tech way to brings lots of fun to your classroom. I am certain that these awesome tips will create an even deeper student appreciation for Readers Theater in my classes this year!
Blog post by Arianne Dowd, official guest blogger of iFLT17!