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Aaron Shepard’s RT Resources

I love your scripts and have used them extensively with learning disabled students as well as gifted ones, grades 3 through 12, North and South (in the USA). . . . They are always a hit. You were there (before Google) to help teachers find exciting, involving material for students. Thank you!

Suzanne Leichtling, Cocoa Beach Junior/Senior High School, Cocoa Beach, Florida

I teach 8th grade learning support in an inclusion setting. I only see my students separately for one period out of the day. We have worked hard this year on our fluency skills and have found that using your scripts is the best way to practice. Recently, I have made a flipchart to use on my Activboard (interactive whiteboard from Promethean) that allowed my students to act out different scripts. The first one I did was “Three Sideways Stories From Wayside School,” but it was such a big hit that I am sure I will make more. . . . We really had a lot of fun acting!

Sarah Rusnock, Pleasant Valley Middle School, Brodheadsville, Pennsylvania

I just wanted to say, Thank you! Thank you! and Thank you! again. . . . I’ve used your downloadable scripts for a couple of years now, both in grade 5/6 and 6 classrooms, and this year, in my new grade 3 classroom . . . and no matter the grade, they’re a hit! Beyond that, they’re getting the kids reading expressively, which, by the end of the year and a few scripts later, absolutely helps their comprehension, fluency . . . and perhaps most of all . . . enjoyment of reading.

Kids who read really well, kids in the middle, and in particular, those kids who struggle to read, all find immense enjoyment and satisfaction in the retelling and ability to “be someone else” during a presentation. What we all get a real kick out of is when they get a chance to perform for other classes. What I do wish, though, is that I had an extra half hour each day that we could devote to reader’s theatre!

Peggy Wright, John Barnett Elementary, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Many of the kids in my [first‑grade] class already know how to read (I have some that can read at a 5th- and 6th‑grade reading level), and if they don’t know how, I get to teach them! One of the things I love about RT is that it encourages the lower-level readers to read more fluently and understand what they are reading as they work with the higher-level readers. And they LOVE RT! So what better way to incorporate some fun into our reading curriculum?!

Uni Crooks, Bellevue-Santa Fe Charter School, San Luis Obispo, California

Your scripts are amazing to work with and so easy to adapt to whatever age level we’re working with. Whether it’s a fifth‑grade class to get them on their feet and show how much fun reading can be, or an at‑risk after-school class to impress on them how important their words can be. (“The Hidden One” has really touched a lot of children with its beautiful lesson.) As actors, we show the children how we have to be amazing readers and use our imagination to create for our profession. This proves to them how reading can change their lives.

Tracy Leake, Chief of Operations, First Frontier, Inc., Xenia, Ohio, www.bluejacketdrama.com

I used some of your Readers Theater scripts last year for the first time, and the students loved it. This week I read your picture book “The Legend of Lightning Larry” to them, and then the next day we did the Readers Theater version. I added a few cowboy hats I picked up after Halloween, and they thought they were on Broadway. I do not teach the gifted children, I usually get the ones who struggle with reading—bright enough, but somehow they just haven’t learned to love reading or school. That’s my specialty—tricking little boys who hate reading into wanting to read. You are my new secret weapon.

Sheila Quinn, Washington Street School, Rockingham, North Carolina

I started using RT to help some of my slow and struggling readers. For some, it was painful to listen to them, and even more damaging to their fragile self esteem to ask them to read out loud in front of others. (I teach 5th grade at a small private school.) You helped me in teaching my students how to take a children’s book or story, modify it, put it in RT format, and then polish it, perfect it, perform it.

Over the years, my new students have asked, “When are we going to do RT?”, because they have seen it performed in their classes as younger students. They look forward to the process and the experience. Those that have been through it, especially the struggling readers, leave with better reading skills and an increased confidence in themselves and their reading ability. (Both are priceless to me as a teacher!) All leave with better comprehension and a sense of great accomplishment.

That is one thing students mention when I see them after they move on to higher grade levels. They remember the experience as a high point. Do they know how much they have learned through it? Not truly, but I do, and that lets me know that this is one method of teaching I’ll always use.

My classes are getting more practice in fluency, comprehension, and exposure to literature. The stories we read in RT stir their interest in reading the whole book to get the complete story. So many positives to this reading tool! I love it and other teachers are beginning to use it, especially in the lower grades where I’ve been in their classes. They are finding it not so difficult and well worth the effort.

Susan Foster, Arkansas Baptist Elementary School, Little Rock, Arkansas

I have 7th/8th grade resource students who struggle to read anything. This is the best way I have found to motivate them to read.

S. Morrison

I am an American (Las Vegas, Nevada) teacher, teaching English at Huazong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China. I have been using your RT material in my oral English classes. The students love performing them, and their pronunciation and diction have improved greatly. Making speaking English fun is an important step in learning English, and your stories are a perfect means to this end.

Shirley F. Hurt, Huazong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China

We’ve had so much fun with your plays! I teach 3rd grade. This is the second year I’ve used your plays in a Readers’ Theater I started in my classroom. The kids absolutely love them! They beg to do more plays.

I went to a workshop a couple of years ago where a woman presented on reader’s theaters. She had many kids that were not reading at grade level, and she used reader’s theaters to bring them up. Our school is over 50% Hispanic, and many are struggling to learn a second language and are reading below grade level in English, along with the many that are born here that have trouble too. Your plays help them to learn inflection and idioms in a very real and fun way! Not to mention, they’re really funny!

Susan Jackson, S. C. Tucker Elementary, Danville, Arkansas

Over the last two years, I have used two of your scripts to lead a team of 5– to 12‑year-old homeschool children in Reader’s Theater performances. Last year, we performed “Slappy Hooper” to an audience of 100 homeschoolers. It was a wonderful experience, and the children enjoyed your picture book as well.

This year, we are performing “More Than A Match.” Our script this year has been especially successful as we have added costumes, and some really fun staging. To indicate the cities of Here and There, our two 5‑year-olds represent the cities by holding signs at either end of the stage, as well as participate in the choral readings. People really laugh at the interaction between our 8‑year-old Queen and our 9‑year-old King. We have performed for our homeschool group already and will be performing for our church’s Ambassador group of one hundred or more grandmas and grandpas.

The best part is that I have really seen this group of kids grow in their abilities to project their voices and handle themselves in front of an audience. My painfully shy 10‑year-old speaks like a pro in front of a microphone, even in new situations outside of Reader’s Theater.

Tracy Fabel, Beaverton, Oregon

I am a 4th grade teacher at a small school. I have been looking for new ways to help my students who are struggling with reading fluency. I decided to try a reader’s theatre group activity to encourage the kids to reread by giving them a reason to do so.

After an Internet search, I found your site and downloaded “The Legend of Lightning Larry.” I printed the scripts and helped the kids organize them and pick characters. They then practiced their parts during reading time indpendently.

After about 7 days of rehearsing and rereading, they presented to the class. It was a hit! Everyone enjoyed it! Even better was the fact that the kids who had previously struggled to read for fluency showed great gains in this area.

Debbie Silvey, Tiger Creek Elementary, Ringgold, Georgia

For the last 10 years, our church youth group, grades 7 to 12, has provided the church with an annual worship service. Instead of a sermon, the youth read a play. In the past, I’ve written a few, as have several friends. This year we felt the need for a break, and your scripts provided several possibilities that met the criteria. Humour. It has to make sense. And it can’t be too preachy or insulting to the audience/congregation. “More than a Match” had humour and a message for the church congregation, from toddlers to grandparents.

A few weeks after presenting it in church, we joined a group that visits a local women’s prison. The women laughed, and feted us with lovely applause at the end.

Helga Goetzke, Langley Mennonite Fellowship, Langley, British Columbia, Canada

I am a first‑year teacher working with a group of sixth‑grade, dropout-prevention students. They lack motivation to learn when it comes to academics, but I have found one thing that gets them excited and participating—Reader’s Theater!

Marlena Liening, Bayonet Point Middle School, New Port Richey, Florida

I teach an alternative class (7th- and 8th‑grade boys), and they LOVE your stories. My most reluctant readers can’t wait to read in the Reader’s Theater but almost had a fight over who was going to be Lightning Larry. (I have them draw cards now.) Reader’s Theater has helped them tremendously with their fluency and love of reading.

Laura Crossland

I wanted to thank you for sharing your Readers Theatre scripts and inspiring me to use them! It all started five years ago when I tried “The Baker’s Dozen.” It was so successful that I now have a tradition of Readers Theatre with everyone from grades 2 to 6.

Barbara Jones, Library Media Specialist, Wetzel Road Elementary, Liverpool, New York

I have tried your techniques in my classroom with tremendous success in teaching children to use better voice in their writing and in increasing their reading comprehension. I used your techniques to teach Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” and “Murders at the Rue Morgue” to a group of 8th‑grade language-arts students.

We didn’t cover the entire stories, but I had them working in groups of four to recreate scenes from different characters’ points of view. For the lower-level classes, students created storyboards and had a narrator. For the higher-level classes, the students were able to look at examples from your site and create complete scripts on their own.

Denise Roberts, Westglades Middle School, Parkland, Florida

I’ve used your scripts for years in my L.A. classrooms, but this year’s use turned out to be the most exciting of all! This year, I teach middle-school reading remediation. I am also in grad school. In my research, I have become fascinated by the use of reader’s theatre to improve fluency. In addition, it’s just a plain ol’ fun way to read!

Anyway, this year my 6th-, 7th-, and 8th‑graders performed their pieces for the 1st graders at the neighboring elementary school. Afterwards, we did a collaborative writing project. This has offered us tremendous success both in offering authentic uses of reading to these kids and in giving them a huge boost in self esteem!

I have so very much enjoyed the looks of excitement in these kids’ faces when they see that doing things in a non‑glitzy, non‑Sesame-Street way is often more powerful!! Bravo!

Kimberly Wilson, Los Angeles, California

I have used many of your RT scripts in my English classes with grades 3 to 6 over the past few years. However, with “The Christmas Truce,” according to my group of grade 6 boys, you have surpassed yourself! My students were familiar with the facts of the Christmas Truce, as we had discussed this during our Remembrance Day studies. So, when I presented your Christmas Truce RT as a possible Christmas Concert item, it was very eagerly received.

I had a group of usually rambunctious grade 6 boys who spent hours practising their reading. They would grab anyone who happened to be in the vicinity to listen to them read. They eagerly gave up recesses to ensure that their reading would be expressive and eloquent enough for such a “cool” story.

They were so enthused that, when the music teacher suggested that it would add to their performance if they would actually sing “The First Nowell” and “O Come All Ye Faithful,” they agreed! The music teacher then volunteered her husband to sing “Stille Nachte,” “O Tannenbaum,” and “Adeste Fideles.”

The local museum loaned the boys World War One uniforms and artifacts. (They were Canadian unforms, not British, but they were khaki and had been worn by young men from this area almost 90 years ago.) You can imagine what an honour this was for the boys.

The night of the concert, the boys performed your Christmas Truce Readers Theatre brilliantly, and when they came to your wonderful lines, “All nations say they want peace, yet on this Christmas morning, I wonder if we want it quite enough,” there was an audible sigh of agreement from the audience, followed by applause. Thank you for providing an opportunity for a group of my students to experience warm audience response to their reading of your powerful story.

Maura Good, École St‑Gérard School, Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada

After learning about Readers’ Theater and your website in a Reading Motivation class at Queens College a few weeks ago, I decided to try it out during my fieldwork at an elementary school. I looked over your selection of scripts and decided that “The Legend of Lightning Larry” sounded like fun. I found the picture book at the public library where I work, so I could read the story to the kids first.

I was so excited by how well the kids responded. They loved the story and were very enthusiastic about being Larry, Evil Eye, Crooked Curt, Sickening Sid, etc. I had two third grades, three fourth grades, and two fifth grades, and they all did very well. The school librarian was not familiar with Readers Theater, but after our success with the first couple of classes, she was so intrigued, she went right to your website to look for more stories to do.

Joan Galante, New York

I have used your RT in many classrooms, as I have been a day-to-day substitute teacher until now. Currently, I am working as a long‑term sub in grade 3. I used your Peddler Polly story with these children, and they LOVED it. We even made designs of what the Story Sucker machine might look like.

Your hard work has paid off with smiles and laughter from the hundreds of children I have had the pleasure of being with during my days as a substitute.

Pamela Pereira, Cranston, Rhode Island

I work at a Title 1 school, and we are working on reading fluency. Your reader’s theatres are a real chance for kids to read aloud in front of kids and to work on reading speed. We use your scripts and add local school references so the scripts become personalized, and they are big hits.

In the last intersession, we did a reader’s theatre in mask. We gave the characters life, that way. We have even done them in costume. Lightning Larry is always the biggest hit—actually, Lightning Loretta (we used a girl instead)—although Peddler Polly is fast catching up.

Robert Pacheco, Fremont Elementary School, Riverside, California

My 6th graders enjoyed your latest readers’ theater script, “The Borrower and the Boy.” Thanks so much for making our year in the Intensive Language Arts classes challenging and new with so many wonderful scripts. I have a student from Viet Nam who especially enjoyed the play, “The Crystal Heart.” Even my students who struggled at the beginning of the year have relaxed and now enjoy reading scripts from your collection. What a great way to improve one’s reading fluency and build confidence.

Margaret Modjeski, Gulf Middle School, New Port Richey, Florida

I am a classroom teacher who uses RT weekly in my language arts block. I have done extensive research in my own classroom for two years and plan to extend the research, with Dr. Tim Rasinski of Kent State, to an urban system next year. I do workshops encouraging teachers to use it and always have them look at your web site as a beginning point for locating quality resources.

My classroom rocks with the excitement of expressive speech and has data to prove it works!

Lorraine Griffith, West Buncombe Elementary, Asheville, North Carolina, co‑author, Texts for Fluency Practice series, www.lorrainegriffith.com

I am a teacher of 8th‑grade language arts. One of my journals discussed readers theater and cited your web page. We began with each group presenting “Casey at the Bat” to learn basic procedures and are following up by having groups choose a script from your web site for the second presentation. Lastly, the kids will write and perform their own scripts. The kids are having the most enjoyable time. I am so happy when I can involve them in activities that meet my learning objectives and that are fun for them.

Betty Jensen, Sarasota, Florida

I am a third‑grade teacher. I have recently found that Reader’s Theater has improved the interest and enthusiasm my students have for reading. I have also observed an improvement in my students’ fluency.

Jaime Shanahan, Illinois

I don’t know if you have ever considered the ESL world as a market for your works, but they are marvelous. Your scripts employ listening and speaking skills plus provide ample opportunities for dialogue among all classmates. I find them to be a fantastic teaching tool, as I can find one that is cross-cultural to use as a foundation upon which to build [with mixed groups of students].

Marsha L. Anderson, University of Maine, Orono, Maine

I’m a first‑year 6th‑grade language arts teacher in a low-socioeconomic-class school. What is it about reader’s theatre that makes it so much more interesting to students than simply reading a good story? Whatever it is, I’m happy to have discovered it.

Cynthia Winstead

I’m a 5th‑grade teacher, and I teach in a deprived school—maybe they’re all deprived nowadays!! But my children, as unmotivated as they are to learn, absolutely love reading your Reader’s Theater plays. I really search far and wide to find motivational and new material and things that teach values they don’t learn at home. And all your plays generally teach more than one lesson.

Carol Hartman, Jefferson Elementary, Shawnee, Oklahoma

I am the mom of an 11–, a 5–, and a 4‑year-old. This summer we have decided to do a summer dinner theater presentation for Mom and Dad. Kids make dinner and give a performance. Not so simple as it sounds! My 11– and 5‑year-olds can read, but at vastly different levels.

We had planned to do something they know, like “The Three Little Pigs.” While doing an Internet search, I discovered your site. I let my 11‑year-old choose from among the simpler presentations. He chose “Which Shoes Do You Choose?” By eliminating some of the numerous clerks, three children can do this, with a bit of practice. The verse makes it even easier! We can make props or use shoes we have on hand, with the aid of a little imagination. A living room stage, and voilà, we are performers.

Lorrie Ann Button‑Edelson

My class consists of 27 children aged between 8 and 10 years and of various reading abilities, from non‑readers to one boy with a reading age of 15 years. The children simply love trying your plays in class. They especially enjoy trying to assume a different accent for American characters in “Lightning Larry,” or Indian characters in “Wali Dad.” Even the four emerging/beginning readers enjoy your work.

Thanks for showing children that reading can be fun. Thanks for showing these children from very poor backgrounds that reading and writing is “cool” for men.

Tony Turton, Kotara, New South Wales, Australia

My students and I have enjoyed reading and performing many of your Reader’s Theater scripts. I teach fourth grade on an Indian reservation south of Phoenix, and your scripts have boosted my students’ enjoyment of reading.

Elizabeth Kannberg

I am amazed how the implementation of readers’ theatre has affected the reading fluency and speaking confidence of my students across all areas.

Marta Johnson

I teach thirty to forty classes of drama per week, at three different elementary schools. I am a new teacher in this system, and I am new to elementary grades, but I feel like I am in heaven after coming from middle school. These kids are great. Some people would not like working with at‑risk groups, and we have a high percentage of first-generation Hispanic and Hmong (Vietnamese), and story drama couldn’t happen unless I had pictures the first time I told the kids a story. But I love these kids, and they love drama, and we have been having a blast in class. So far this year, I have covered story drama and creative movement/pantomime. Then I stumbled onto your RT site! Yes!

I have been using “The Legend of Lightning Larry” in all of my 3rd- and 5th‑grade drama classes. One day a couple of weeks ago, the principal at Thornton Elementary asked if I had anything ready that we could present for PTA. Sure, we can do “Lightning Larry” with my 3rd graders from Mrs. Brown’s class.

Last night we performed it. The performance was in the gym (couldn’t hear anybody), and parent turnout is always low, but they’ve never had drama before, and every child who was in the play had somebody there (except for the kids who didn’t have a ride and who Mrs. Brown went to get.)

Some amazing things happened. I wish I had a picture. If I could get you to close your eyes and imagine the kids—some who struggle daily with English—and how proud they were to wear a bandana and hat and hold a black folder full of lines especially for them, how proud to be in a play with a real part and get to walk and talk like a cowboy.

Several kids just lost it from stage fright, as far as some of the blocking and volume, etc. But imagine Giovany, a very quiet Hispanic boy, very small and slender, playing Crooked Curt. He was so with‑it, so together, so loud with his lines, so big with his walk, so clear with his character’s expressions, and so much outshining everyone else. Sometimes it takes a drama teacher and a good script to get kids like him the attention and the moment in the light they so desperately need and deserve.

I guess that’s why I am thanking you today—for coming up with such a cool, funny script about cowboys and for putting it out there where budgetless people like me can find it. I am thanking you for the Giovanys of my schools who are assumed to be shy, quiet, etc., and are sometimes left behind or left out because of a language barrier. And for giving us this material which not only helps their vocabulary but gives them a chance to demonstrate big attitude in a positive way.

The performance went over well, the teachers are talking it up real big, and the parents thought it was just Precious (this is the south). As far as a performance, I give it a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10 for professionalism—but for what it did for these children, I give it a 10+.

Cynthia Rand, Drama Instructor, Newton Conover City School, Newton, North Carolina

I teach graduate-level education classes for teachers getting their M.A. in ESL. They LOVE this site. I am using this right now for summer school. I have a class of 19 ESL students, and we are having a blast.

Catherine Baldwin, ESL Resource Teacher, Jefferson County Public Schools, Colorado

i am a theatre arts teacher at the high school level. my classes and i are in the thick of learning about and trying readers theater, and thanks in large part to your website and resources, having a great time of it. we have even felt good enough about it all to offer to perform at two local elementary schools, a big step for these students.

John McGannon, Northern High School, Durham, North Carolina

You have given the fourth graders in my building much-needed practice in oral expression, besides a great deal of pleasure at being in the limelight as readers.

Helen Spoon, Librarian, Oak Park Elementary School, Bartlesville, Oklahoma

I used your “Baker’s Dozen” reader’s theatre last year in the library, and the kids loved it!! I also bought your picture book and read the story to the younger kids. I check your page regularly for anything new and appreciate all your ideas!! Thanks for making our library a fun place!!

Barbara Hansen, Librarian, Barrington Place Elementary, Sugar Land, Texas

I am a media specialist in an inner city elementary school where 95% of the students receive free or reduced-price lunches. Reading is not an activity valued in many of our students’ homes. Last fall I selected 17 students (grades 3–5) to be in a Reader’s Theatre group. We have met once or twice a week ever since. We have performed “The Calabash Kids,” “Peddler Polly and the Story Stealer,” and “The Legend of Slappy Hooper.”

The students are very proud of themselves. We’re still working on them projecting their voices and not holding their books in front of their faces! One of the students is a gifted black boy who also happens to be behaviorally disturbed. He is in a special classroom because of that. But he is our best reader, and boy, does he have great expression! One young girl is not the quickest reader, but she tries very hard and practices words over and over so she will read them right.

So many other students were wanting to be in this group that I had tryouts again last Friday. I didn’t count, but there had to have been at least 35 children. In one fourth‑grade class, eight boys tried out! How exciting that they felt that Reader’s Theatre is a cool thing to do.

Belinda Holbrook, Madison Elementary School, Davenport, Iowa

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