Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Readers' Theater and Videoconferencing

Have you read Gerald and Piggie by Mo Willems?! Mo is one of my absolute favorite children's book authors, and his Elephant and Piggie series is so witty, entertaining, and fun! I decided to use several of the Gerald and Piggie books for Readers' Theater. These books work out perfectly for Readers' Theater because they are already written in dialogue. These books are also great because most of the kids are familiar with them so I feel like the stories have more meaning for the kids compared to traditional Readers' Theater scripts (that can sometimes be a little dry).

The students read the following Gerald and Piggie books:
1. There Is a Bird on Your Head!
2. I Love My New Toy!
3. My Friend Is Sad
4. Watch Me Throw the Ball!
5. I Will Surprise My Friend!
6. I Broke My Trunk!
7. Happy Pig Day!  

Gerald and Piggie are in every story but in some of the stories there are other characters that have small parts. That's how I was able to offer each student (we have 23) a role.

I thought the students would be all Gerald and Piggied out after rehearsing their skits everyday for a week but they couldn't get enough of these silly characters...they were constantly asking me if they could borrow the books during any free reading time!

Here are a few of the kids reading one of the books together!

They even asked if we could read them during story time where I read a book to the whole class everyday before lunch! Reading the books as a whole class was great because we would read them together...the girls would read Piggie's part and the boys would read Gerald's part.

The coolest part about doing this particular Readers' Theater was that the kids performed their skits for a second grade class in New York through videoconferencing (like FaceTime or Skype)! The school I am student teaching at has a videoconferencing system called TANDBERG. They students thought they were going to be famous because they were going to be on "tv". Aren't they funny?!

The kids LOVED this!! As you can see in the picture above, TANDBERG is basically this portable television with webcam on top (it has other awesome technological capabilities too). I put x's on the floor so the students would know where to stand when they were doing their skit. I sat below the tv (out of view of the camera) holding the books for the kids to read. The students sat across from the TANDBERG. And since the students would see themselves in a small corner of the screen along with the class we were connecting with, we let them make silly faces in the camera for about 10 minutes to get their wiggles out.

I had prepared costumes and props for the students to wear and use too! They did an awesome job performing...wonderful expression and acting! They were also a great audience (so engaged!) while watching their classmates (we had a talk about being a good audience before we got started)! In between the skits, while my Cooperating Teacher and I were preparing the next group, the ITRT would zoom in the camera on the kids so they could wave to the second graders in New York!

 I am so happy with this experience! I would definitely do this again and recommend videoconferencing with Readers' Theater.

Have you used videoconferencing in the classroom? If so, what did you and your students do?

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