What is your favorite reading strategy?
My favorite strategy for reading, whether it's a short story, poem, or play is to act something out. I took a class a few years back on incorporating more performance into class, and it's something that stuck with me. As English teachers, most of us have some touch of the dramatic anyway, and acting is one of the best ways to interact with the written word.
"Acting" has a loose definition in my class. It can be dramatically reciting dialogue, or reenacting the narrator's creepy entrance into the old man's room in "The Tell-Tale Heart." It could be students posing themselves as living pictures (tableaux vivant) during Shakespeare units (my favorite sources come from the Folger Shakespeare library: website, or I highly recommend their Shakespeare Set Free book and kits). Sometimes performance is silent and sometimes it's loud; sometimes rehearsed over many days, sometimes impromptu. We kill each other with fake plastic swords. We take suspense stories and put their characters in a courtroom for mock trial. We make reading come to life.
Acting is not for everyone. My students are never graded on the quality of their acting skills, just that they participated in some way. I create an environment where terrible acting is totally fine and we can laugh about it, and where good acting is respected and supported. I keep closets full of every possible costume and prop (store bought and homemade) that have made their way into my room over the years, so we can enjoy the fun of dress up.
None of this acting is professional. It doesn't take hours of dedicated rehearsal time. I'm not a drama coach, and I don't have any theater background (aside from nine years of teaching middle school, which I consider the ultimate stage experience). We act to make reading more fun, and it's my favorite strategy to keep kids engaged with a text.
I teach 7th and 8th grade English in rural Iowa and hope to reflect, connect, and share with other English teachers. Iowa Council of Teachers of English Executive Board member. Iowa Writing Project superfan. UNI MA:TESS graduate.