Help! Hilary! Help!       

Sarah Barton

Growing Independence and Fluency: A Readers Theater

Rationale: The speed at which one hears words or decodes them definitely affects listening and reading comprehension (Eldredge, pg. 151). Students must be able to read and decode words quickly to understand what they are reading because good readers decode automatically not being aware they are decoding enabling them to focus more on comprehension (Eldredge). Thus, the goal of this lesson is for students to have repeated readings so they will focus more on meaning rather than decoding. Students after repeated readings will read faster and with expression. This will be done by a Readers Theater where students will learn their parts.

Materials: copy of Help! Hilary! Help! for each student, dry erase board (with characters of the play already written on board) and markers, book mark with self-help strategies for each student: take a shot, read the rest, change a guess, read again, sentence strip with sentence “The snow crunched under my shoe,” Popsicle sticks with each students name written on it and holder, checklist for reading fluent: memorize part, change tone of voice, voice audible and clear, spoken with expression.

1. Explain to students that today they are going to be acting out a play as a class. “Students, today is going to be a special day in Reading. Today we will be working on a play, “Help! Hilary! Help!” this is a funny play and each of you will have a part!” (Depending on the number of students in the class you may add more narrators to give each student a chance to participate)

2. Before starting on the play review with the students some self help strategies. “You might come across some words you don’t know when reading your part for the play. Let’s think back to some tricks we learned to help us figure out that word we don’t know. Go ahead and pull out your orange book mark that gives you some clues. (allow students time to pull out their bookmark) If I am reading the sentence ‘The snow ___ word I don’t know under my shoe’ I am going to 1-take a guess 2- finish the sentence. I did that now I am going go back and change my guess, oh crunched under my shoe. Then I will reread the whole sentence ‘The snow crunched under my shoe.’ Now who can tell me the first thing to do when I come to word I don’t know? (allow students to answer) The next after that? (allow students to answer) and then? (allow students to respond) and the final thing? (allow students to respond).

3. Go over some elements of a play with students before handing out the play. “Before I hand out the play, I want to go over some important information about a play. A lot of you are going to have the part of the narrator and all that is, is another name for the story teller. The other characters are Hilary, her Mom, and two bad guys.”

4. Pass out the play to the students and give them a brief over view of the play to get them excited about reading the play. “Help! Hilary! Help! Is an exciting play about a girl named Hilary whose Mom is kidnapped by two bad guys and it is up to Hilary to save her Mom.” (Depending on the number of students depends on the number of bad guys and narrators) “We are going to choose who gets what part by drawing names.” (Have each student name written on a Popsicle stick and draw out names) “The first two girl’s name I pick will be Hilary and Mom. The first two guy names I choose will be the bad guys. From there we will start with the narrators until all parts have been given.” Draw out popsicle sticks calling the students name out and assigning them a part. Write the part on the dry erase board and then fill in each name you call out on the board.

5. Remind students the importance of reading with expression. “It is important that when we act out the play we don’t just read out our part but say it with expression. What do I mean by this? (allow students to respond) Who wants to listen to someone read like ‘Help- Hilary- Help’ (in a monotone slow expression)? Kind of boring. What about ‘HELP! Hilary! HELP!!’ (raising voice and full of expression)? That sounds more interesting doesn’t it. I want you all to try to add expression to your part. Say it like you are telling someone not just reading it.”

6. Tell students that expression comes after rereading not on the first attempt and model. “It is okay when you first start reading to not have expression but the more you read your part you should add expression, ‘Can’t you be more help’ (reading slowly and no expression) I am going to reread that part to see if I can say it better this time ‘Can’t you be more help’ (read faster but still no expression) see that was better but I am going to try again to see if I can add expression on the third read ‘Can’t you be more help’ (full of expression) it took a few rereads but I was able to do it.

7. Emphasize to students to read and reread their parts as many times as they can before practicing out loud. “I am going to have you find and read your parts as many times as you can in the next ten minutes. Make sure you read and reread your parts trying to add expression. If you need to say it to yourself you may.” Allow ten minutes for students to read their parts silently.

8. Now allow students to read their part to a partner. “Students partner up with the person that is to your left. Now let them read their part to you and then you read your part to them. I will give you ten minutes to do this. Allow ten minutes for students to read with partners.

9. As a class have students read through the play. “Now we will read the play as a whole class two times through. The first time will be just practice and the second I want to hear expression.” Read the play twice through.

10. Practice reading the play through twice daily and give student 10 minutes to memorize their lines for one week adding on moving around on the stage about day two or three. “Students before we perform this for the other classes I will need to check you off making sure you are doing all the things on the expressive reading checklist on the board.” Check list includes: memorize part, change tone of voice, voice audible and clear, spoken with expression.

11. After students have practiced for at least one week and memorized part have a Readers Theater and invite other classes to watch the play.

Assessment: Checklist for play: memorize part, change tone of voice, voice audible and clear, spoken with expression.

Eldredge, J. Loyd.(2005). Teach Decoding Why and How. Pearson Education Inc. pgs. 151-152.

Shepard, Alan. Help! Hilary! Help! <>

Click here to return to Constructions.