Support Speaking and Listening Standards-Using Rubrics for Reader’s Theater

by Adria Klein

Adria Klein, Literacy Expert

Rubrics are useful tools for setting expectations and learning goals for students. The first column of the rubric is Meeting the Speaking and Listening Standards. There are four rows and each is an aspect of the overall speaking and listening standards, representing a key area in the standards. A four-point scale showing a gradient of growth helps teachers and students set learning goals.

Presentation of Self reflects building self-confidence in sharing and presenting information as a learner through performance.

Energy and Enthusiasm are ways students show interest in a topic and understand the methods for responding in a group; Reader’s Theater is a great vehicle for practicing these areas.

Voice and Pacing are part of daily classroom interactions and can be taught and strengthen through performance activities.

Eye Contact and Body Language begin in the earliest grades as students learn the process of communicating their understandings and holding effective conversations.

A rubric differs from a checklist in that it has broad areas for measuring progress over time. It is part of an effective formative assessment process. The checklists are an integral part of the use of a rubric for meeting standards. Teachers need both to support implementation of Reader’s Theater in the classroom for all students to achieve.

Here is a simple rubric for you to try with your students. Enjoy.

This Reader's Theater rubric will help with assessment for meeting Speaking and Listening goals. Download it and use it with your classroom.
This Reader’s Theater rubric will help with assessment for meeting Speaking and Listening goals. Download it and use it with your classroom.


Teacher Tips For Doing a Class Play

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  • Print extra copies of the script for students who have misplaced their scripts.
  • Keep a master copy close by on a handy clipboard. If you find clipboards on sale at the dollar store—it is a great idea to have clipboards for each student to hold their scripts in their hands.
  • Have highlighter pens for students to highlight their speaking roles. Some teachers like to use acetate covers or clear plastic folders over the script so that students can mark up the script.
  • When you select a script to do with your class—make it an event! Begin the script by reading it aloud to your class. Then hand out the scripts and read the play again to the students allowing them to hear your excitement as you read.
  • Be sure to make reference to the original source of the play. If the script is an adaptation from a book, be sure to have the book in the classroom so that students can make the connection to the book.
  • When you coach your students–aim your coaching specifically at a character’s emotions and motivations.
  • Send the scripts home with students to practice. Reading to parents is a great opportunity to build reading fluency by practicing at home.
  • Consider inviting an audience to watch the Readers Theater presentation. Students enjoy performing for one another.
  • Above all–Have fun with Readers Theater and staging plays. Remember that this is a fun way to encourage fluency in reading but it is also a fun and memorable activity for your students.
  • And check out for great plays, ideas and teacher support. Just browse, print and produce!