Retelling (RL.1.2 and RI.1.2) is important in the Common Core reading standards, and it also transfers into the structure of our writing, both narrative and expository. When you think about College and Career readiness, and of your life as an adult, this makes sense: telling what happened in a clear and orderly way is an essential skill that makes us successful at communicating and able to perform in our careers.
My students had been struggling with retelling and summarizing. For the most part, they were giving details in random order, not starting with a clear big idea, or ending with a closing sentence. I decided to give a very structured lesson based on retelling key details in an informational text. I took care of scaffolding it in a way that would lead students to successful retelling because I want to lay the foundation for students to be more independent with this skill in the future.
I began by telling the class that we would use pictures to help us retell a story in order. I explained that it would be important to begin with the big idea, tell key details or events in order, and then finish with a closing sentence.
This lesson can be done with any story (or non fiction selection as in this case), as long as you have one copy for each student. I had the students read the story corresponding for the week in the anthology. After most of them had read it twice independently, we echo read it. Our adoption has retelling picture cards for one of the weekly selections. If it hadn't, I would have made copies of 4 to 6 pictures from the book they were working on.
After the readings, you can see (resources) how we ordered the pictures as they appeared in the book. I told them that I was going to retell the story using the pictures to remember what the story was about. I reminded them that a helpful way to start retelling is to say, "This story was about ..." I modeled retelling with the pictures and then called on some volunteers to try their hand at it. For this, it was important to call on students at different ability levels, so that everyone saw they could succeed.
I had shown them how to do it, now I wanted them to practice independently. For this I needed a new story and I told them to take out their decodable reader and choose a story that they would read by themselves and then retell to a partner. You can see them in action in the resource section.
When most of the students had had a chance to retell to a partner, I asked for some volunteers to retell in front of the class. I knew the fancy microphones we have in our class were a huge temptation, and I was hoping to get a variety of skill levels.
There are some clips in the reflection's resource section for you to check out.