Research Question - How can I use Reader's Theater to increase motivation, fluency, and comprehension in reading?

Abstract:  How can we motivate students to pick up a book and read? For many, learning to read can be a difficult task. It requires practice and repetition. In my study I wanted to encourage the love of reading, but also to increase students' fluency and comprehension.  I accomplished this by using Reader’s Theater, a type of performance where children read and interpret scripts using no props, costumes, or sets. My class of 16 first graders, at a small private school in California, engaged in multiple cycles of reader’s theater, moving from teacher-created scripts to scripts written collaboratively with their peers. Through observations, assessments and written and oral reflections, I found that fluency and comprehension increased for all my students, regardless of their initial reading level, as their motivation increased. I also discovered three key themes in what motivated my students to keep reading and performing: providing students with choice, honoring their voice in classroom decisions, and having an authentic audience for their work. These findings have implications for how we as educators support students as readers, but also how we create optimal learning in any subject.

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