Readers' Theater

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Overview: 

Readers theater group helps spread message about bullying

As a junior high counselor with a background in theater, I always am searching for new ways to incorporate performance-related activities into my curriculum. Last year, after having read Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham to an 8th-grade class, I decided to form a readers' theater group. My goal was twofold. I wanted to instill a love of literature in my junior high students, and I wanted to use my readers' theater group as a teaching tool for elementary students.

As a counselor, I see students in our building bullying other students without realizing what they are doing -- how much their words or actions hurt other students. It became the goal of my readers' theater group to address that problem. Our objectives were to catch this behavior early, teaching elementary students what it means to be a bully and how to avoid being one.

My 12 readers' theater students met before school once a week to rehearse. Once we mastered our material, we visited local elementary schools and performed for the students. Before each 20-minute performance, the junior high students talk to the elementary students about bullying. A short question-and-answer session is used to introduce the topic. We have yet to experience a group that didn't have stories of witnessing or being involved in bullying. Following the performance, we ask the students to take a pledge not to be a bully. Then we present them with certificates.

While our intention was to educate elementary students, we have discovered that students within the junior high group also have rethought their ideas about what it means to be a bully.

Judy Schallhorn
Byng Junior High School
Ada, Okla.

SPEAKER 1 My eyes are green.

SPEAKER 2 My eyes are blue.

SPEAKER 1 I'm six foot one.

SPEAKER 2 I'm four foot two.

SPEAKER 1 My hair is blond.

SPEAKER 2 My hair is black.

SPEAKER 1 I'm a good singer.

SPEAKER 2 I can dance great.

SPEAKER 1 I'm always early.

SPEAKER 2 I'm always late.

SPEAKER 1 I like to skate.

SPEAKER 2 (Turning toward speaker 1) Hey so do I!

SPEAKER 1 I like chocolate ice cream.

BOTH On blueberry pie! (High five each other)

ALL Do you hear what's happened?

SPEAKER 3 Wait! Can this be?

SPEAKER 4 You two who are different
Might suddenly see

SPEAKER 5 That's sometimes it's nice
To be you and be me.

SPEAKER 6 We all can be different
And still can be friends.

SPEAKER 7 And peace in this big world,
Will always depend

ALL On people like us seeing others as good. On people like us being kind when we should.