Readers Theater is the newest addition to the range of afterschool programs funded by the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant. It is a collaboration between the New Mexico State University STEM Outreach Center, Gadsden Independent School District, and 21st CCLC. An eleven week after school literacy curriculum is provided for students in grades K-4 in the Gadsden Independent School District. School teachers are given the opportunity to teach the curriculum and are provided professional development, all necessary materials, and a stipend for doing so.
Readers Theater is available to grades K through 6 in selected schools in the Gadsden Independent School District and K through 5 in selected schools in Las Cruces Public Schools.
|LCPS||Dona Ana||K – 5th|
|LCPS||Loma Heights||K – 5th|
|GISD||Desert View||K – 6th|
|GISD||Santa Teresa||K – 6th|
The goal of Readers Theater is to help students engage more authentically with literature by providing the means to make stories come alive. The traditional form of Readers Theater has been expanded to include costumes and props in order to enhance the students’ ability to more fully inhabit the characters and stories. In addition, creative projects are provided to supplement each story as well as music materials and activities. Through this hands on, multi-sensory approach, Readers Theater hopes to foster a love of reading and storytelling in students and their communities that will continue throughout their lives.
Readers Theater is a multi-sensory, multi-disciplinary way to teach literacy skills that works especially well with bilingual students. This program has students reading – and even reading aloud – in a way that is neither intimidating nor frightening. Research has shown that repeated and monitored oral reading improves reading fluency and overall reading achievement.
Students are each assigned a character role in an award-winning children’s story that has been turned into a play. These plays are intentionally given built-in mechanisms that help students read better, and students are encouraged to read their parts with expression and enthusiasm. Assuming a role compels students to work more closely with the text to interpret and project meaning into the experience. However, they also feel safe because “they” are not the ones reading out loud ─ it’s their character. As a result, students show improvement in vocabulary, comprehension, and retention.
In connection with each story/play, activities connect the story with STEM learning. For example, if the story is about a bicycle, there may be a lesson about how gears work, or if the story is about the sea, an oceanography lesson will be incorporated.