Sunday, March 23, 2014

Spotlight on Retelling of Texts

What is it?
Retelling of text is a type of response activity used after reading in which the student restates the main ideas in a story or text to demonstrate their understanding.

Why is it used?
Teachers ask their students to retell a story or text to give them an opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of the story or the information in the text.

How it can be used?
The teacher can use retelling of texts to determine whether the student is able to:
  • Point out the main idea or message.
  • Retell the important events of a story in sequence.
  •  Retell the important ideas of an information book.
  • Describe the setting.
  • Describe the characters.
  • Use connecting words.
  • Make connections (text to self, text to text, text to world).
How it can be adapted?
Ideas for adapting retelling based on students’ learning needs:
  • Model retelling during read-alouds and shared reading and the invite the students to participate.
  • Provide prompts or props for the retell, such as charts, frameworks, picture sequences, story maps, semantic webs, mind maps.
  • Suggest creative ways for students to retell stories, such as dramatic retelling with props or puppets or illustrations. This offers opportunities to integrate the arts into your lessons.
  • Include retelling of texts in your guided reading lessons and reading conferences, and provide verbal prompts if needed (What happened first? What happened next? What happened in the end?).
How can you apply the information for your Balanced Reading program?
If you determine that students are having difficulty with any aspect of retelling, you can incorporate instruction and practice into your reading program as needed.
  • Modeled/Shared Reading: Engage the students in a read-aloud or shared reading and then fill in a graphic organizer together using lots of think-aloud to demonstrate the process of retelling a story in sequence and providing all the juicy details needed.
  • Guided Reading: Create opportunities for discussion and practice of retell. Provide images for students to arrange in the correct sequence, or ask them to use sticky notes to flag the main parts of the sequence right in the book.
  • Independent Reading: Once you have modeled how to use them, provide appropriate graphic organizers for students to use for practice. Use reading conferences to assess their retelling skills.
How can you use this information to communicate to students?
As you observe your students practicing their retells, you can make notes about who needs extra help or practice with this skill and who owns the skill. This enables you to plan future whole class lessons or to group students for extra guided instruction or practice as needed. When providing extra guidance to students, knowing what they need drives the prompts you will use when encouraging them to improve their retells. 

How can you use this information to communicate with parents?
  • Encourage parents to model storytelling and retelling of family histories (especially if the family culture has rich oral traditions). 
  • Encourage parents of ELLs to practice retelling in their heritage language because the skills and knowledge developed in the first language transfer to the student’s development of English.
  • Send instructions home to parents for use after they read with their children. This could include prompts for retelling the story.
A Sample Template
The Retell a Story/Retell an Information Book graphic organizer can be used by students as they practice retelling what they have read. This template can also be used at any stage of your balanced reading program, such as, a template for a whole class discussion, a guided reading tool, or a record for a reading conference that focuses on retelling. 

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