RT 5 – Setting Up the Chapter

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10 thoughts on “RT 5 – Setting Up the Chapter”

  1. I’m so lost, what is Reader’s Theater? Is this something I should have known about by now? I feel like more of a novice than I felt before because I have no idea what this thing is that everybody is getting excited about.

    1. Reader’s Theater is new to the concept of CI/TPRS. It needs to be distinguished from traditional Reader’s Theater.

      Traditional Reader’s Theater is when an actor or group of actors performs a “reading” of a play. Often they will sit on stools and will have the script in hand. There is no scenery, and props are minimal. It allows the audience to imagine a lot of things.

      Reader’s Theater as it is being used in the current conversation is, as far as I know, a creation of Jason Fritze. He has taken the idea of acting out a story and moved it up to a high-powered tool for presenting comprehensible input. Instead of using an oral story that the class has created or is creating in the moment, you use a text from a novel or other extended reading.

      Choose a scene that can be easily acted out. Read the scene and have volunteer actors perform it as you read it. Involve the class in various ways. As students get more comfortable with what is going on and acquire more language, stop the action and interview the actors – what do you really think? do you like or dislike this? what will you do next? what do you want to do next? – and ask the class about what they are hearing and seeing. Keep asking the class questions that take them back into the text rathe than just relying on the action / performance they can see.

      I have done elements of this for some time -as have many of us, I think – but I am nowhere near the level of Jason Fritze. As much as I have issues with the holes in the plot and logic of “The Trip of His Life”, my classes have a great time with the climax of the story. In the German version, the hero and the villain are on top of the Loreley cliff overlooking the Rhine. The “insect lady” is holding a knife to Karl’s throat and about to shove him over the edge to his death on the rocks below. We play the scene, I ask the class and actors questions, then they write their own endings before we read the last chapter and find out what really happens. (Almost every student kills off the hero; sometimes the villain gets away, sometimes she gets caught – but the hero dies.)

      Hope this helps.

    2. Ditto, as with so many other things. This is still my first year and there is so much I feel I’m not doing (yet). I remember reading in Ben’s “TPRS in a year” to focus on one thing at a time and not move on to the next step until you feel comfortable with the previous step. At least that’s how I understand it. Anyway, so I’m soaking up all this info on Reader’s Theater with the plan on incorporating it once I have become more proficient with the basics that I’m still struggling with at times.
      My next big step will be to read a novel when we get back from our break.
      Your quote “….something I should have known about by now” really resonates with me. Whenever I think “I finally got it”, something new (for me) pops up here. But that’s one of the reasons (among thousands, millions,…..) why I am so grateful for this PLS and the method itself, there’s always something new and it never gets dull.
      I guess our feelings are typical for newbies, there is so much to learn, so much to want to play with, and so little time.

  2. So…I have Pobre Ana and Mi propio auto (My Own Car). I haven’t distributed the copies of chapter one to any of my classes of either book. Correct me if I’m wrong but this article is saying that I should first sit down and look at the chapter and find phrases I intuitively feel my kids don’t know. Then when they come to class, I just PQA with them.

    I know that we tend to always comment that one can never be sure how long it takes for them to acquire and it happens at each individual’s pace, AND a teacher can PQA for days….so my question is, how long do I spend doing this PQA part before the kids see the chapter and we begin reading.

  3. This whole thing with RT is not done. Jason, who has over the years been the force behind RT, has written nothing about it, and this series of posts was written after he visited Denver for a workshop last year, but it was just my own reaction to his presentation. So certainly don’t take it as any kind of officail description of RT – it’s just what I saw bc nobody did it yet.

    I think what he was trying to do in isolating unknown, yet important, structures from individual chapters was not just to make the reading easier, since most people would probably do that anyway before reading as part of their basic backwards planning work before reading a novel. I think he was also suggesting that we look for “fun” stuff that might lend itself to impromptu scenes/theatre – kind of getting his mind ready to jump into some theatre out of the novel from time to time, which is the charm of RT.

    But I don’t feel confident enough yet with all that to do it, although others here are, those with the RT gene. Just been too busy with other stuff to delve deeply into RT, plus it kind of scares me, but maybe someday I will. The way Jason does it makes it look really simple and easy, plus it looks like tons of fun. But that’s Jason, the true master of this stuff.

    As far as when to stop the PQA, that is the same answer as always, when you feel that the kids could easily identify it in the text or in discussion. I would say when they have acquired it, but, as per recent discussion here, I’m not sure what “acquired” means anymore.

    Sometimes such PQA just takes just a few minutes, depending on how interesting it is to the kids, but it could take a long time, even an entire class period, as well. Intuition is the way I decide when to stop PQA on a certain structure.

    1. Thank you for the clarification. Also, I think you would do very well with his RT format. Based on just your videos, it seems like your kinda thing. It feels like I could also do very well at this. P.S. I had an administrator observe me yesterday with PQA which went right into a story. I haven’t had the post-ob meeting yet but I have good feelings about it. Details to follow….

    2. COACH is doing a workshop on December 8 about reading and Reader’s Theatre. Of course, since Jason is part of COACH, he will have a lot of input. I will write some things for the PLC (and possible wider distribution) after we have done the workshop. I’m working closely with Jason on this and was also at his session in Punta Cana in June/July.

      1. Good Robert. As time allows I will continue to work on the notes I took from Jason in Denver, but the more we get on RT the better. Jen, I even have a bit of background in theatre and I still can’t get past a kind of block in actually making this work with kids – it’s weird. I’ll probably be out to pasture when it finally dawns on me how it works, but then I can go around and see it working in all sorts of new teacher’s classrooms. When RT is on, it’s on!

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