Group Script Development


bullet Readers Theatre is a superior avenue to enhance comprehension of text, doubling student interest in and enthusiasm for reading.

The Readers Theatre format provides an opportunity for students to develop fluency through multiple readings of the text by using expression, intonation, and inflection when rehearsing the text.



bullet Students will develop a script, perform it, and will have an opportunity to practice inflection as well as enunciation to depict characters from texts.

Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (writing conventions, style of writing, word choice, voice inflections and gestures) to communicate effectively with an audience.


bullet Resource as example: Print a script From Teaching Heart Site to help students see how an RT script is written.



Chapter books or short stories that contain large sections of dialogue
A computer for reading stories on line and for writing scripts
Seats for Readers Theatre performers (stools preferred)
Music stands/podiums to hold scripts
Overhead projector, transparencies with markers
bullet Highlighters (several colors)



Lesson 1 [You should book computer lab] Based on 60 min. period
1. Tell students that you will first demonstrate the purpose of the role each person has in a script. Then it is their turn. They must read two or more online premade Readers Theatre scripts for the purpose of learning how to create their own scripts. No printing off scripts!!
2. Discuss the following script roles:
  • Narrator (s)- Tells the story and directs characters how to say their lines.
  • Character (s)- The principal actors in the script who carry out the plot.
  • Silent Character (s)- Non speaking presence within the script who may act out or stand still for some purpose
  • Sound Effects Person- The actor who is assigned to enhance the script with sound effects like the squeaking of a mouse or the sound of a siren.
3. Place the selected scripting sheet for modeling on the overhead. You could cover over the role if marked on the script. Students should guess the roles next. You only need one or two sheets to demonstrate.

Demonstrate how to identify the specific script roles for the selected script. Delineate between narration and dialogue. Narrators read what is "outside" the quotation marks and characters read what is "inside" the quotation marks.

Discuss with the class the purpose of directions given in brackets that direct how to behave or say the lines. It's purpose is to help students deliver the line appropriately and with expression.

4. Read through the script on the overhead and have students identify who is reading each part of the text. [use roles above; Is this a speaking character?]  Write the name of the role on the transparency to identify each portion of the text.
5. Select students to read through the script on the overhead based on the roles that were identified.
6. At the end have students describe how readers theatre is different from other oral activities. Ask What is the purpose of Readers Theatre? Why is each role important to the audience enjoyment?
7. Go to computer lab: Teaching Heart Site Write URL on board for students. Have students work in pairs at computers to read aloud two Reader Theatre scripts to identify the roles in this script. They should make notes to identify the main parts of the story. After all the roles have been identified, students should read through the script to make sure they understand the story plot.
8. Have the groups discuss what they observed from reading the script when they return to class or the next day. Most important is the role of the narrator. Make sure they see the difference between a story and a RT script.
Lesson 2:

Review with students things things they may may want to “cut" out from a story when writing their script:

  • Tag lines. These are the lines that tell us “he said” or “she said.” In performance, these seldom do more than break up the flow of the story and trip up the readers. But leave in the ones that give extra information the audience must hear. Also leave in ones that an author has used to build rhythm.
  • Long descriptions. Many stories include long sections of narration that slow the action. These can often be shortened or even removed.
  • Minor characters or scenes. Cutting these can simplify the stage action and/or adjust for a small number of readers. Often, important dialog or information can be shifted to another character or scene.

Remind them of other areas where they might make changes:

  • Character splitting or combining. As mentioned earlier, you can combine two or more similar characters into one, or split one into two or more.
  • Additional speeches. Some story characters may have no lines, or may be onstage for a long time before they speak. In these cases, you may want to invent brief speeches for them. Also, if the narration tells about what a character said, you might convert this into a speech of the character.
  • Stage directions. You can often make the script smoother by converting parts of the narration to stage directions for the characters.
  • Difficult or obscure language. Though readers should be encouraged to read “up” from their level, some scripts will be much easier to follow—for both readers and audience—if you now and then substitute a simpler word, or split a sentence in two. With foreign stories, you may want to “translate” unfamiliar terms.
  • Sexist or demeaning language. Often this can be changed unobtrusively. If not, the story may not be appropriate for young people.
  • Aids to reading. You can underline or italicize words that should be stressed, add commas to delineate phrasing, or insert stage directions to indicate the feeling behind speeches. [Read Aaron Sheppard's tips for Scripting]



Lesson 3:
bullet  Go to a computer in groups of  two and follow the links below. [Teacher may write and photocopy the URL's on a small sheet of paper to hand out]
bullet  Find a story you both like and get into your groups. Print off one short story that appeals to your group.
bullet  When you return to the classroom have students form groups of six. Take turns reading orally the short stories they printed.
bullet  Have students vote on what short story is most appealing from that group of six stories. They will report the one story's appeal orally at the end of class. [What makes this story a great one for RT?]
bullet  After each group reports their story, groups must form based on which story is most appealing. [Teachers must take proactive stance and help with the number of characters per story. Discussion around roles is very important. You may need another class to determine roles and juggle partnering for ability etc.]
Children's Storybooksonline

Beantime Stories

Classic Bedtime Stories

Bookhive Reads

Lesson 4:

Give students an overview of their task. Each group should create a Readers Theatre script from the text selection that has been assigned to their group. They will be expected to "perform" their script the following day.  Although this activity usually takes two classes to write the script, but some groups may write script in one.

Remind students they can add characters and dialogue that are not in the story but they must stick to the story's theme, storyline and characterizations.

Remind students that violence does not enhance a script, unless appropriate and intended to demonstrate a theme within the children's book. I caution using it, as pushing or pointless violence will cause a loss of points.
Review the Readers Theatre RT GroupEvaluation and remind the groups on the aspects of their script and performance [below] that will be assessed.
Have students get in groups and begin writing the script. Only after they write it do they assign the roles to each member of the group.
When students have written the text for the script have them read it orally to you.
Encourage students to use highlighters to identify their portions of the text. If one member is playing multiple roles, using different color highlighters will help him or her distinguish the roles and know when to use a different voice.
Have students practice performing their scripts within their own group and then in front of the class. Feedback should be given and the script improved before performing in front of another class. I often present these to lower grades.
Students should be assessed on oral presentationPerformanceRubric