ABC COUNTDOWN TO RETIREMENT: R is for…

June 2, 2015

R is for Reader’s Theatre.

I love Reader’s Theatre! This was one of the best things I did with my students all year every year.  Once the standardized testing is done, by mid-March, the pressure is off and teachers can start planning projects and activities that are fun and engaging for the students. In the spring I always had my students do a research project on a topic of interest and prepare a Reader’s Theatre production to perform in front of other students. Reader’s Theatre was always on my priority list because first of all, the kids really enjoyed it, and second, it’s a good way to increase English learners’ reading fluency and confidence. I’m not the only one – the last two years I’ve worked as a program assistant and the classroom teachers I work with put on a play with their students each year.

From my first year of teaching on, I did a lot of Reader’s Theatre with my classes. In 2003, my dual language 3rd grade class put on two plays: Caperucita Roja (Little Red Riding Hood) for the dual language first grade  class, and Energy (which I wrote – we had been studying about different types of energy and I used each of these as a “character”) was performed on the school’s TV station. Then at the end of that school year, students read for their families during the Academic Celebration, a shortened version of the book, The Great Kapok Tree by Lynn Cherry, which I had adapted for Reader’s Theatre.

I then adapted the same play based on the Spanish version of the book, El gran capoquero. One year my students made colorful and elaborate renditions of the animals in the book, which were used for the background scenery.

At least twice, my classes put on a Mexican version of The Brementown Musicians, which was in English but sprinkled with Spanish phrases and it had great humor!

In 2006, my 3rd grade ESL literacy class premiered my play The Great Chicago Fire. I had five narrators and many other parts, both big and small, so that everyone could participate. Some even got two roles! During this production, we used an overhead projector to show images of the Chicago Fire of 1871 in the background. Later, I reproduced a picture of a horse-drawn fire truck which was used in those days, and that prop became part of future productions.

Below are some pictures of Reader’s Theatre productions I’ve directed since 2009 (except 2014 – I didn’t direct those).2009: 3rd grade play (bilingual literacy class)

2009: 3rd grade play (bilingual literacy class)

3rd grade play
3rd grade play
4th grade play: Red Writing Hood
2009 – 4th grade play: Red Writing Hood
Red Writing Hood cast
Red Writing Hood cast
5th grade play: I don't remember the title but it had to do with the Underground Railroad.
2009 – 5th grade play: I don’t remember the title but it had to do with the Underground Railroad.
5th grade play cast
5th grade play cast
2010: 3rd grade play,
2010: 3rd grade play, “The Great Chicago Fire”. These are the 5 narrators. I wrote this play based on research I did on the Internet.
The main character, Claire, is separated from her family. She joins others who are trying to hide from the fire.
The main character, Claire, is separated from her family. She joins others who are trying to get away from the fire.
Fire fighters & volunteers pass buckets of water drawn from Lake Michigan to throw on the spreading fire.
Fire fighters & volunteers pass buckets of water drawn from Lake Michigan to throw on the spreading fire.
2010: 4th grade literacy class - Red Writing Hood (I did this 2 years in a row).
2010: 4th grade literacy class – Red Writing Hood (I did this 2 years in a row).
Red Writing Hood and the ballerina wolf!
Red Writing Hood and the ballerina wolf!
2010: 5th grade literacy class play - the cast poses after a performance for the special ed class.
2010: 5th grade literacy class play – the cast poses after a performance for the special ed class.
Performing in the intermediate special ed classroom.
Performing in the intermediate special ed classroom.

DSCN3332

2011: Bilingual second grade performed three plays. This one is
2011: Bilingual second graders performed four plays. This one is La escuela de pececitos.
These two boys were the only ones to memorize their play! But then, it was such a natural fit for them!
These two cousins were the only ones to memorize their play! But then, it was such a natural fit for them!
The storm dies down and the play reaches its conclusion.
Dia de la tormenta: The storm dies down and the play reaches its conclusion.
Vivian D is the bookstore owner whose mynah bird escaped from its cage that morning. (OK, so we didn't have a mynah and I had to use my beanie baby parrot instead!)
This play was in our reading textbook. The girl in pink top & black skirt is the bookstore owner whose mynah bird escaped from its cage that morning. (OK, so we didn’t have a mynah and I had to use my beanie baby parrot instead!)
Vivian tried hard to read her part clearly.
She tried hard to read her part clearly.
Taking a bow! This performance was for our class's fifth grade reading buddies.
Taking a bow! This performance was for our class’s fifth grade reading buddies.
2014: 1st grade play:
2014: 1st grade reading class play: El mas fuerte de todos. Two ants set out on a journey to find out who is the strongest. Here they meet with the sun.
The ants talk to the deer who tells them she is not the strongest.
The ants talk to the deer who tells them she is not the strongest.
Raton, Casa y Gato, waiting to say their lines.
Raton, Casa y Gato, waiting to say their lines.
The other first grade classes were the audience for the first performance.
The other first grade classes were the audience for the first performance.
The cast pose for pictures in their costumes.
The cast pose for pictures in their costumes.
2014: 2nd grade reading class play,
2014: 2nd grade reading class play, El gran capoquero (The Great Kapok Tree).
I adapted this popular book about the rainforest for Reader's Theatre. One of the other program assistants made their masks.
I adapted this popular book about the rainforest for Reader’s Theatre. One of the other program assistants made their masks.
The cast of
The cast of El gran capoquero takes a bow.

In late May of this year, the bilingual first grade reading class performed once again for the other first grade classes, and then for their other classmates. This time they did a version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears in Spanish, Ricitos de Oro. The bilingual second grade reading class performed Trabajando juntos, which was about ants working together. I have chosen not to publish these photos, due to their being so recently taken.

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