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Teaching Fluency Using Readers Theatre

Main Core Tie

English Language Arts Grade 3
Reading: Foundational Skills Standard 4 b.

Time Frame

4 class periods of 15 minutes each

Group Size

Small Groups

Life Skills



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Students will work together to prepare and perform a Readers Theatre using classic Dr. Seuss stories.


  • Copies of the short stories intended for use.
    You will need at least one copy for every two students. If possible the stories could be typed ahead of time so that each student has his own copy to highlight and practice with.

Background for Teachers

Teachers should read the stories to themselves prior to presenting this activity. This will enable the teacher to assign parts according to ability, gender, and dramatic tendencies of the students.

The teacher should read at least two of the pieces aloud to the group. This will allow the students to observe fluency, voice, and expression being modeled appropriately.

Groups need to be mixed so that there is at least one fluent reader in each group.

Student Prior Knowledge

Students need to have had the experience of listening and participating in read aloud activities. They will be more successful if they have had multiple opportunities for listening to fluent expressive reading by the teacher.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will demonstrate the ability to read grade level text in meaningful phrases using intonation, expression, and punctuation cues.

Instructional Procedures

  1. The teacher will choose one selection to read aloud to the class. The selection should be read with expression and meaningful pauses.
  2. It may be necessary to read a few pages with no expression in a monotone voice as a non-example.
  3. Explain to the students that each group will be performing a story for the rest of the class.
  4. Allow 20 minutes each day to practice the parts in groups. The teacher will need to monitor consistently to encourage, make suggestions, and help keep students on task.
  5. Allow time after each group has presented their production to the class for critiquing. Encourage students to tell what they liked about the presentation before offering suggestions.
  6. You may extend the experience by performing for another class or for parents.

Strategies for Diverse Learners

Assign parts according to reading levels. Struggling readers can be assigned the most dramatic parts. This can build their enthusiasm for reading and help them concentrate on reading for meaning. ESL students can be assigned smaller parts so they will still be involved but not overwhelmed.


Students may prepare simple props or name tags to enhance their presentation. Gifted students may want to write their own readers theatre by adapting well known fairy tales. Struggling students can use simpler texts.

Assessment Plan

The teacher will assess student performance by observing their presentation to the class. Areas for assessment are fluency, voice, and expression, and cooperation.


Dr. Seuss Short Stories:

  • What Was I Scared Of?
  • The Sneetches
  • Yertle the Turtle
  • Gertrude McFuzz

Created: 08/01/2005
Updated: 02/05/2018