publication date: Nov 20, 2013
author/source: Carol Montgomery
A new debate has emerged: Does too much technology inhibit creativity? No matter how you feel about technology (e.g., iPads in the classroom, video games at home), Readers Theater builds a bridge between technology and creativity. Readers Theater scripts printed by technology or displayed on iPads reaches BEYOND the papers and the screens.
Readers Theater provides a launching pad for exploring the imagination and expressing creativity through the arts. Of course, Readers Theater improves reading and listening skills. But, here are five fun ways Readers Theater teaches creativity and explores the imagination:
1. Encourages the "Theater of the Imagination"
Readers Theater has been called the "theater of the imagination." That's because typically there are no sets, no costumes, and no props. All the action occurs in the imagination of the listeners–and the readers. Like traditional reading, Readers Theater encourages students to go deeper in a text, exploring the sounds of words and the interpretation of characters.
2. Provides Opportunities for Interpretation of Characters
When a student reads a Readers Theater script aloud that student creatively chooses the voice for that character or narrator. If a student reads more than one part, then more than one voice will often be used. Sometimes students use gestures and non-verbal cues to help interpret the character (e.g., smile, point). Volume, intonation, and fluency all become important to the student's creative interpretation.
3. Inspires Creative Expressions in the Arts
Readers Theater easily integrates the arts into the classroom. It inspires creative expressions even beyond creative reading, though. Readers Theater provides a launching pad into art (e.g., illustrations for the script, related arts and crafts activities for non-fiction topics, optional props like hats or signs identifying characters).
The art illustrations of a Readers Theater script can easily become a Readers Theater "slide show." Just take the student artwork, stack it in sequential order, and co-ordinate it with the reading of a script. As students read the script, other students "slide" the illustrations onto the table where the illustrations are being video-taped. When the script is finished you have a Readers Theater "slide" on video!
Besides art, Readers Theater performances may include music. Music between Readers Theater scripts creates a full enjoyable program. Sometimes you may find non-fiction Readers Theater scripts on the history of a song. Of course, the best way to end that kind of script would be to sing the song!
4. Motivates Creative Puppet Play
Many classrooms have puppet theaters for pretend play. By incorporating a few scripts in the puppet center, students may creatively choose puppets AND read a short play aloud. For students who are insecure about creating dialogue for a puppet, Readers Theater scripts provide an example and creative opportunity for puppet play.
5. Transforms Readers into Writers
Readers Theater is easy to write. Even first-graders have successfully done it by using a simple story. Starting with a class-written Readers Theater script, students build confidence creating their own Readers Theater scripts in groups or independently. Sometimes students will spontaneously write their own scripts once they have learned how easy it is to transform dialogue into a script.
6. BONUS: Launches Students into Fun Creative Play Opportunities with Readers Theater
I remember the mother who wrote me about her children doing Readers Theater at home for school. Her children were so excited about reading a script aloud that they continued to practice even when a friend came over. Here's what she wrote:
"L and J had a lot of fun this a.m. playing with Noodle and Strudel! First L was the kitten and J was the puppy. It was cute but then they decided to switch roles--and it was CUTER! They did it four or five times and really enjoyed it...."
Two days later:
"As I type...L and a girlfriend are doing Noodle and Struedel and J is the narrator! Now the girls are switching roles..too cute..."
Two days later:
"Carol, We are ready for more!! The kids have really enjoyed Noodle and Strudel..."
Who wouldn't be ready for more? Readers Theater explodes opportunities to creatively build leaders and creators while integrating learning. Plus, it's just plain fun!