Saturday, April 5, 2014

Retelling with Key Details

Retelling a story with key details is a tough skill for first graders to master. Today I'd like to share a strategy I learned earlier this year to guide students through the process. This was presented as a strategy for ELL students, but it really benefits all students.

I have been calling it the 'W' strategy. I'm not sure if that is official or not. Click on the image to download a copy.

In advance, I prepare answers to the five questions from the text we're reading on post it notes. After reading the text, we review the term key details and the "W" words. I read one of my prepared answers, and ask the students if it tells who, what, when, where, or why. I give them time to discuss with a partner, then we share answers. Once we determine which key detail I've read, we place it on the correct place on the W and move to the next key detail. Once the answers are all in place, I model how to use them to retell the story, touching each place as I go, then I have a few brave students do their own retelling.

What I really love about this strategy is that you can adapt it as your students' abilities increase. You can gradually decrease the teacher responsibility and increase the student responsibility. Once students are familiar with this concept, they can transition to answering the questions themselves and retelling independently. Responses can move from oral to written.

I have already assigned more advanced students to read a book and answer the "W" questions, then I had them do an entire lesson for the class. It worked beautifully!

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  1. Hi! Thanks for sharing this post - comprehension is always a tough skill for the primary graders! I appreciate it!
    Reading and Writing Redhead

  2. I really liked the way you built on the skill of answering those tricky W questions. I have language students who struggle with that all the way through their elementary years. I think this might be a helpful strategy for them!
    Burke's Special Kids


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