Fifth Grade Readers' Theater
Fifth graders participated in a special readers’ theater performance of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo, an author the class has been studying. The teachers chose this book because of the great number of characters and the quality of the writing. The performances, one by each 5th grade class, were completely designed and directed by the students, requiring a lot of teamwork and collaboration. Every student played at least one character, took a turn as narrator, and participated as a stagehand. The students designed their own props and costumes, relying on loans from fellow classmates and the GUS makerspace as resources. Some students even contributed original material to the script to enhance a scene or their characters in some way.
Fifth graders learned how a play works and what it takes to put on a performance. In a Q & A discussion with the audience—parents, siblings, faculty, and lower school students—following their performance, students acknowledged that playing the characters in the story allowed them to understand those characters in a very real way. And through the creative process, they discovered new talents in themselves and in their classmates. “Putting on a play teaches presentation skills—the importance of projecting your voice and feeling confident in your public speaking and performing. It also encourages reading fluency. And you get to see students shine in ways you might not have expected,” commented fifth grade teacher Danielle Harrington. “We are proud of how the students stretched themselves in some way and supported their classmates” said co-teacher Katie McCarthy. “The kids had many kind words to say to each other, and clearly, they were proud of themselves. You could feel a deeper closeness in the classes.”