by Janet Caluris
Research Question/ Definition of Problem
How can I effectively utilize readers theater to
improve the fluency and reading comprehension skills
of my students?
- What does readers theater look like in my classroom?
- What is the impact of readers theater on my
students’ levels of fluency?
- What is the impact of readers theater on my
students’ levels of comprehension?
- What changes in students’ level of interest
in reading and reading behaviors are noted following
the use of readers theater?
The National Reading Panel in 2000 identified fluency
as a key ingredient to successful reading instruction
because of its effect on students’ reading efficiency
and comprehension. Identifying the impact of readers
theater on my students’ fluency levels and comprehension
is important because third grade is considered a
benchmark grade in my district, and promotional
criteria is based on reading at or above a designated
reading percentile as measured by our annual standardized
testing. Evaluating the impact of readers theater
and noting the patterns I discover in my students’
performance will help me effectively implement an
instructional program to meet students’ individual
III. Data Collection Process/ Tools
The methods I used to collect data included surveys,
observations, and student fluency assessments. These
were accumulated over a three month period: January
Fluency assessments from an informal reading inventory
(level three) were administered at the start, and
at the fourth week, eighth week and conclusion of
the study to assess and monitor overall improvement
of reading fluency skills including word recognition
accuracy, reading rate, reading expression and comprehension.
Two surveys were administered—one at the start
and one at the conclusion of the study—to assess
changes in the reading habits and interests of the
Student performances of readers theater scripts
were taped and analyzed weekly to monitor improvements
in fluency. A rubric was utilized for the students
to self-assess their own progress during the study.
IV. Data Analysis & Findings
The results of my project affirmed that utilizing
readers theater does lead to improved levels of
fluency and reading comprehension. However, while
all my students benefited, my results did not show
equal gains for all students.
I broke the data down into the four major groups
- academically talented, general education, bilingual
and special needs - represented in my classroom
and learned that the academically talented group
showed no gain because they were already fluent
readers with great comprehension. I saw roughly
the same percentage of gains in word recognition
for the remaining groups. Overall comprehension
was greater for the general education and special
needs students than the bilingual students, I am
theorizing that this change was due to the fact
that despite their fluency with the language, children
for these two groups still needed to develop their
understanding of the vocabulary to improve comprehension.
For the bilingual students, this is clearly not
enough of an intervention.
Readers theater improved my students’ reading rate,
word recognition accuracy and use of expression
while reading as well as their attitudes toward
reading. They benefited both from the multiple interactions
with the text and with their peers, resulting in
improved fluency and comprehension levels. Incorporating
fluency instruction is integral to the creation
of an effective comprehension program because if
fluency is not developed, the act of decoding drains
some of the students’ available resources from constructing
meaning of the text resulting in lower comprehension.
My assumption is that as their self-concept as readers
got better they demonstrated greater fluency and
comprehension. Periodic assessment was critical
to my discovery of how to make readers theater a
successful experience for my students. The students
who experienced a change in attitude towards reading
likewise showed the greatest gains in fluency, but
it is not clear if the attitude changed as a result
of improved performance or vice versa since the
attitude survey was only administered at the start
and end of the study. In the future, I might use
some informal interviews to help me figure out what
aspects of the intervention are supporting good
V. Policy Implications/ Recommendations
- Teachers of struggling students could utilize
readers theater to provide their children with
an enjoyable opportunity to engage in rereading
texts to improve fluency and comprehension levels.
- Fluency instruction,
key to effective comprehension programs, can be
incorporated through the teacher creation of readers
theater scripts across the curriculum.
- Administrators need to encourage teachers to
incorporate motivational reading activities, such
as readers theater, into their reading programs
to improve student attitude and performance.
- Fluency assessments should be administered
at quarterly intervals to help teachers analyze
students current performance levels and utilize
that data to drive their future instruction.
VI. Next Steps
I will present my findings to my colleagues and
encourage them to incorporate fluency assessments
and readers theater in their curriculum.