What is a Script-Story?

What is a Script-Story?

On this site you will find the term script-story thrown around a lot. Why? It's the motivational reading strategy that has given me the most success. Okay, “success” is underselling it a bit. Script-stories is the strategy that has given me so many relevant literature discussions, so many student “Aha!” moments, so many thoughtful essays, so many “Hey, I remember that story from three years ago!” comments, so many times I was thankful to be an English teacher, that I just can’t help sharing it with others. I know I’m being gushy, but I can’t help it. It really works.       

I use “script-story” as my term for a Reader’s Theater play because I think it captures the essence of how I use Reader’s Theater in my classroom. A script-story is a version of a story that students read like a script with narration, multiple reading parts, and even sound effects! Sometimes using the term “Reader’s Theater play” gives the impression that students are required to stand on stage and act, which causes many of them to shy away. Yet, unlike traditional theater, script-stories do not require costumes, make-up, props, stage sets, or memorization. Only the script and a healthy imagination are needed. As students read the script aloud, they interpret the emotions, beliefs, attitudes, and motives of the characters. A narrator conveys the story’s setting and action and provides the commentary necessary for the transitions between scenes.

While script-stories have been enormously successful with lower grade-levels, they are also a great fit for older learners as well. Students of any age enjoy and appreciate the chance to experience a story rather than having it read to them. For years now script-stories have been a tool that I use to teach literature, history, and mythology to high-schoolers. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

How do you stage these stories in the classroom?

When I do a script-story in my classroom, I hand out photocopies of the script with certain copies highlighted for particular characters, so that whichever students you pick to read parts will have their lines readily available. (This is not necessary, but it does make things run more smoothly.) Some teachers who use Reader’s Theater require their students to stand when reading their lines or even incorporate physical acting, but I do not employ this technique. As for the sound effects in the plays (fanfare), noisemakers can be distributed to the students and used when prompted. Otherwise, students can make the noises with their own voices.

How do you structure a class around script-stories? How often do you use them?

Too much of a good thing can be bad. In my own classroom I do employ the script-stories fairly often—usually about two days a week—but I do supplement with other notes, silent-reading texts, activities, and self-created worksheets.

How do you assess script-stories?

A quick reading quiz after the completion of a script is an easy way to assess comprehension. In my own classroom I ask five questions that hit the high-points of the story. Each script-story that is available on this website comes with five recall questions in the teacher guide for this purpose. Another way I assess is through student discussion. How well the students discuss tells me how well they have comprehended the story. Each script-story that is available on this website also comes with discussion questions for this purpose.

How can I make my own script-stories?

If you are passionate about a piece of literature and truly want your students to be passionate about it, too, turning it (or a piece of it) into a script-story is a great strategy to employ. Find a section that provides plenty of dialogue and adapt it into a script by adding dialogue tags. I think you will find that your students enjoy having a chance to read dramatically for one another, and the story will engage them on a whole new level.

I hope you find script-stories to be a great learning tool in your classroom!