As part of my PD this summer I’m joining The Sunny Side of Second Grade and some other teacher bloggers in a book study.  I’ll be sharing Unit 7: Reading and Role Playing from Lucy Caulkins’ book,  A Curricular Plan For The Reading Workshop Grade 2

Lucy Caulkins Book Study

Click the image above to be taken to the beginning of our book study.


Unit 7 Lucy Caulkins

The author recommends spring {April/May} as the perfect time for engaging our young readers and writers through tales that so easily spark the imagination. This unit is perfect for beating the winter blues through engaging activities that invite readers and writers to delve deeply into the text.  It is the perfect time to bring witches, princesses and fairies into the classroom.

How does this help my students master the standards?

It is natural to seek answers to this question.  Through teacher modeling and practice, students will develop a love of role play.  To bring richness to their acting they will  delve deeper into the text to infer character motives and purpose. Students will learn to question, discuss, understand point of view, and develop retelling skills. 

Tim Rasinski, well known for his work on reading fluency, has opened our eyes to the need of developing fluency as an aid to comprehension.  We know students in second grade need to progress from reading 30 to 50 w.p.m. in short chunks, to more fluent readers who read in phrases of 70 to 100 w.p.m. by the end of second grade. Building fluency happens naturally through role playing, reader’s theater, and other forms of acting out text.  Speed, as well as expression and prosody will blossom with these activities.



Reading and Role Playing to build fluency

 As you will notice, there are plenty of opportunities throughout this unit to build fluency:

  • Teacher modeling
  • independent reading for a purpose
  • partner re-reading
  • expressive reading
  • readers theater

How do I find the time?

Caulkins suggests daily opportunities to allow students to think about and discuss text. By forming partner and reading club groups students can spend 5 to 10 minutes daily engaging in these activities.  This still allows plenty of time for independent reading.  Students will be more engaged during independent reading because they are looking to contribute to the group and they have group accountability.  This time supports the speaking and listening standards common in many states.

Readers Becoming Actors

Caulkins suggests starting this unit by comparing well known read alouds/stories with their cartoon/animated counterparts.  Share in the marvel with your students as they understand how characters come to life through expression and gestures. Model with a well known book by using expression, gestures, and voice changes.  Invite students to join you as they are sitting on the rug.  

Think, Pair, Share Activities

  • What is the character thinking in his head?
  • Say the character’s thoughts aloud to your partner.
  • Why did the characters act the way they did?
  • What can we learn from the author’s lesson?
  • What was the moral of the fable?

Invite students to step into a character’s shoes.  Model noticing and interpreting details that offer information about the character.  Use anchor charts to chart character traits and teach vocabulary that allows students to express character traits more accurately, i.e., frustrated instead of simply mad.  

Character Traits

Image from Click the image to view the site.

Using post its will help students mark text that helps them analyze characters.  Students can discuss and reread marked places with their partners.  The texts in this unit usually have exaggerated character types.  Children will often recognize these tales have similar characters with similar traits.  This aids in building understanding of plot structure, author’s purpose, theme and morals.  Caulkins recommends closing the unit by letting the students read and role play or perform a favorite tale. 

For more resources on readers theater, check out my pinterest board below!
Follow Sebrina Burke’s board Readers Theater on Pinterest.
Be sure to check back on July 17 for the final post in this series: Unit 8 & Conclusion by The Sunny Side of Second Grade!  Just click the image below!



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