April 16, 2017

Retelling Strategy Twist

It is this time of the year when I like to add an element of surprise to our reading groups. I noticed that when it comes to our fiction text there’s seems to be a struggle when it’s time to retell and interpret literary devices we are encountering. From our group discussions, my kids do way better with nonfiction than fiction. The funny part is they find fiction to be easier than nonfiction. I’m still trying to process why they perceive that.

Reading skills unlike math are what I like to call recycle skills. Many of our kids will encounter again, most of the same reading skills and strategies they were once introduced to. Two of the main changes are the text’s complexity and the level in which they analyze. I decided to go back to retelling to see where the problem lies. I didn’t want to go the traditional route of just reading a story and picking on some kids to retell. 

I came across an author a couple of weeks back named Linda Hoyt through her book titled Revisit, Reflect, Retell. The title alone quickly caught my attention. One strategy that stood out was named team retelling. In team retelling, a group of children retells the story. What makes this strategy fun is the twist she puts on it.

The retelling focuses on the team sharing the responsibility of retelling various parts of the story. After reading, the different elements of the story are written down on individual cards. Here comes the twist: the cards are put faced down in front of the group and shuffled. Next, each student picks a card at random. The card chosen is the part they need to retell.

This strategy was a game changer in our group discussions. First, the kids were caught off guard. I saw a level of excitement when the cards were faced down and no one knew what they were going to get. Also, I loved how everyone got to participate. My introverts had a chance to make meaningful contributions while my extroverts were working on patiently waiting their turn.

She also suggested other variations on how to use the retelling cards. For example, students in pairs use the retelling cards to guide their retelling. One child is the listener the other is the teller. The listener holds the retelling cards and removes the card the speaker described in their retelling. After retelling, the listener can show the teller which elements they mentioned and which ones they didn’t. These retelling cards help story elements be more apparent to both the listener and teller. There’s a second set of cards that older kids can use, which steps it up a notch. These cards touch on literary devices like flashback and imagery. I highly recommend this strategy to help your readers stay on track while giving them a focus for listening.

What other strategies are you using to support students in retelling stories? I couldn’t let you leave without this freebie!

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