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WARNING for Videotaping Readers Theater

publication date: Jan 26, 2021
author/source: Carol Montgomery
bug thumbWARNING: A teacher just wrote me. They had videotaped one of our scripts with the children wearing masks. The students did great. Unfortunately, the masks muffled their voices so the audio wasn't clear on the video. (I don't know if these were character masks or health masks, but let's assume they were character masks.)
I've watched videos from other teachers recording Readers Theater scripts without masks and even then sometimes you can't hear or understand students. So, what's a teacher to do? Below are several ideas to help ensure YOUR success making Readers Theater videos.
7 Ideas to Improve Your Readers Theater Video Performance
1. Record your audio ahead of time if you want to use masks and videotape a performance. Then, have the students "act out" the parts as the recording plays. (This can work great for Readers Theater puppet shows, too.)
2. Have separate (or shared) microphones for each speaker and make sure that they practice with a mic (microphone) while wearing a mask if they'll be wearing a mask in the performance. There are a variety of microphones and apps for videotaping with smartphones; however, some microphones will need adapters. Ask your local young computer expert and he or she may have a suggestion or do the research for you! NOTE: Students MAY be able to share microphones, but the microphone should be on a stand since the students will probably have scripts in their hands.
3. Use masks that do not hide their faces–especially their mouths. (Hats, headbands, or signs around the neck may also work for identifying characters.) Masks work well for action performances, but when the focus is on speech you'll achieve more success with mouths NOT being covered.
4. Use Zoom to record your performance so each child is miked separately (e.g., with headsets or computer microphones). Here's an example of some international teachers of English practicing one of our scripts–"The Earth Day Hen and Friends" on a Zoom call from our friend, Tracy, of Matrix Readers Theater. Zoom appears to be a simple way for small groups to practice or perform, but the microphone capability and position always impacts the quality of the sound.
5. Think of the microphone as an ice cream cone. You don't want it hiding the mouth, but you want it to be close enough to pick up the sweet sounds of the singer or speaker.
6. Train your students to project loud enough for Grandma in the back of the room to hear. "What did you say, Honey?"  Make sure students articulate and don't read too fast because Grandma needs to understand the words, too.
7. Simplify by creating a live video recording with paper slides. Encourage your readers to create illustrations for the script and use the technique of paper slides–as shown in this Readers Theater paper slide tall tale of Pecos Bill.
***BONUS 8. Create a Readers Theater Radio Show with sound effects and audio only. Due to privacy issues Radio Readers Theater (e.g., Readers Theater podcasts), Readers Theater paper slides, and Readers Theater puppet shows all protect the identities of your readers. Of course, many adults enjoy watching children performing, so do what works best for you, your students, and their families.
No matter HOW you choose to share or not share your students' performances with parents, students will always be more motivated if they know there's a performance coming. If you don't want to record a video how about performing live for another class or an outdoor audience? Some teachers have actually shared Readers Theater performances via Skype. Why not mix up your options and see what works best with YOUR students?

Readers Theater All Year™ LLC builds leaders and creators for positive influence through an inexpensive, easy, flexible system.  Readers Theater All Year™ LLC curriculum services provides a caring community for using and creating Readers Theater scripts for families, classrooms, homeschools, camps, and drama clubs.

Praise from Teachers

...Keep doing what you are doing.  There are not enough quality scripts available for children and teens.  So many are inappropriate from a parent's perspective.  As a teacher I want to also build character and integrity while I teach a subject.  Why can't drama build up, inspire and be thought provoking?...Anyway, keep doing what you're doing...we need all the help we can get!
Jen H., Drama teacher

> ...I have been teaching for 35 years. RT has been part of my education journey for the majority of that time. Initially my experience with it was as a performance genre in the Drama Curriculum. Now I use it across the curriculum - a wonderful high motivation strategy in the language program - particularly reading - and so much more as you would know. I was drawn to your 'community' by the idea of leadership... I think what you're doing is wonderful..."
Graham B. Former primary teacher (now a Visual Art and Drama specialist)

Readers Theater All Year is the most comprehensive collection of Readers Theater scripts and resources I have found on the internet!...Thank you Carol for your leadership and vision and for making Readers Theater so accessible for teachers and parents.
Daniel Fiore, Elementary teacher/author What They Have Taught Me

I found the free readers theater online scripts, teaching tips, and curriculum teleseminars at Readers Theater All Year very inspirational to me. I used the Twelve Days of Christmas...Vacation script in my ESOL classes before Christmas break and my students all enjoyed it..
Lily T. Teacher (English for Speakers of Other Languages)

"> ..We did Squanto's Squash for the family on Thanksgiving and [my sons] participated and loved it. I am so excited about making this a major part of homeschooling. What a great way to learn!
Bethany P. Homeschooling Mom

> our script "The Earth Day Hen and Friends" I've used this! The kids love it. Thank you for sharing...It's just right for all levels in the class...Your free scripts are wonderful!...They learn so much from drama and reader's theatre...I see the shy ones gain confidence as they read. Fluency and prosody increases with reader's theatre...
Angela D., 3rd grade teacher

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