Another important strategy to teach primary students is to retell the story. This strategy fits under Comprehension on the CAFÉ menu. Retelling a story seems like an easy task, but for primary students it sometimes can be challenging. I find that many of my students cannot remember anything except a sentence or two. The rest of the students try to tell me the entire story, word for word. Finding a balance between the two is something I work on throughout the year. Teaching students to retell a story in sequence with information about the character, setting, and plot is essential to helping them become a good reader. It also helps develop their knowledge of story structure for their own writing.
Explaining the Strategy:
“Who were the main characters?”
“What was the problem? How was it solved?”
“What happened in the beginning, middle, and end of the story?”
Ideas for Teaching:
- Model this strategy during an interactive read-aloud. Use a retell rope (a rope with 8 knots tied in it). Each knot stands for the following: Characters, setting, problem, event 1, event 2, event 3, event 4, and ending.
- Emphasize that retelling means to tell what is important, in a way that makes sense, without telling too much.
- Have students read independently for 5-10 minutes then stop and practice retelling with a partner.
- Start by practicing with real-life experiences from the students. Have them retell and event from their weekend. Remind them to tell what is important, in a way that makes sense, without telling too much.
This website offers tips and activities to use in the classroom when teaching students how to retell.
This article gives ideas on how to incorporate pictures into retelling.
This article offers a link to the retelling pyramid, which is a graphic organizer that can be used when teaching how to retell a nonfiction selection.
Supporting Picture Books:
Lobel, A. (1980). Fables. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
- Most fables include a lesson or theme in the story, relatable characters, and a repetitive story structure. This makes it easier for students when they are beginning to retell stories.
Brett, J. (1987). Goldilocks and the three bears. New York, NY: The Putnam and Grosset Group.
- As I mentioned above, folktales, fables, and fairytales are a good place to start when teaching students how to retell. Goldilocks and the Three Bears is a story that most students have heard multiple times, so it will be easy for them to retell.
Galdone, P. (1973). The little red hen. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Co.
- The Little Red Hen is another classic story told to children. Retelling will come naturally with the repetitive nature of this story.
Boushey, G., & Moser, J. (2009). The cafe book. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.
Miller, D. (2002). Reading with meaning. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.