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Treasure Valley Children’s Theater

Treasure Valley Children's Theater

TVCT contracted the experience of Artist Educator, Cassie Angley, and worked closely with the administration at Taft Elementary to initiate two Readers Theater Workshops for youth. Each workshop included fifteen hours of instruction and culminated in a performance for the school as well as a public performance for an invited audience of family and friends.

The workshop was researched, developed, and taught by Cassie Angley, who holds a BA in Theater, a Masters of Arts Education in Literacy, and an Idaho teaching credential in Theater Arts.

Angley’s Readers Theater workshop, which she implemented at the Boise State University Literacy Academy during the summer of 2018, was the subject of her master’s thesis.  Angley also worked as an actress, playwright, and theater educator in New York City for over a decade.

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

Can Theater Inspire Reluctant Readers to Read?

Yes. Transitioning the skill of reading into a performance activity that emphasizes story telling does inspire reluctant readers.

Reading is taught as a separate subject only until the third grade. After that, foundational literacy skills are rarely taught. Students are expected to transition from learning to read, to reading to learn. Students who still struggle with decoding, fluency, and comprehension after the third grade slip further and further behind as content reading levels increase at each grade level.

The most detrimental thing a struggling reader can do is stop reading out of frustration, thereby falling even further behind in their reading skills. The high interest of the content in a Readers Theater production, and the necessity of rehearsing and therefore re-reading a script, has been shown to enliven and engage students in reading and increase motivation to read.

At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:

The post-workshop survey asked participants specific questions about how they measure their learning outcomes. Results from the first session were shared with us and are as follows:

What did you learn about reading during this class?

How to read better and how to express feelings more better.

I read better in Readers Theater better than in my “real” class Deborah

Reading is funer than it looks.

That it is good for your brain.

What did you learn about theater during this class?

It is really fun and exciting.

Why do you think Readers Theater is important?

To learn about reading better.

Because it helps you be a good reader and actor.

Impact

The two workshops we initiated served 23 students total and employed one teacher and one teaching assistant.

The focus of the workshop was theatrical discipline, reading comprehension, and fluency, however the curriculum was differentiated for each student’s specific needs based on the outcome of their initial assessments.

We believe the workshop series did meet goals and inspired struggling readers to discover reading as a form of story telling.

Reflection

We were proud of the progress the students who participated in this program demonstrated. We had hoped to secure additional grant funding to offer this program to students outside of Taft Elementary, but midway through the process we recognized that Cassie Angley’s interest in developing her own program would be more beneficial than our maintaining an Independent Contractor agreement with her. Her program design and outcomes met expectations of this grant but we won’t be continuing this program offering.

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