Retelling is a reading strategy that students use in the classroom to help them to think about what they are reading. As they retell a story (or a part of a story), they are asked to tell the important parts, in the right order. This helps them to understand the story better (e.g. make sense of what is happening and is likely to happen next) and to remember it longer (e.g. to answer questions and remember facts).
We want our Reading Recovery students to be able to tell us who the characters are, e.g. the 3 little pigs and the wolf. We also want to know the setting, e.g. the forest. There is often a problem in the story, e.g. the wolf is trying to blow down houses. If the student understands the story he will be able to tell us, in his own words, what happens at the beginning, the middle, and the end, e.g.
- At the beginning of the story the pigs left their mother to make their own houses.
- The Big Bad Wolf blew down 2 houses and was trying to blow the brick house down.
- At the end of the story the wolf went down the chimney and landed in the boiling water and that was the end of him.
If the student is able to retell all of these parts of the story she shows that she knows what she is reading. The more details she adds, the greater the understanding.
In a very easy book the characters might be Jack and Billy and Mum. The setting is their home. The problem is that Jack won’t get ready for bed. 3 parts of the story are:
- Jack was playing with his car.
- Billy was in bed.
- Jack went to bed to hear Mum read a story to them.
As you are listening to your child read at home you may like to have him or her tell you what has happened so far. You will then be able to sort out any misunderstandings along the way. At the end of the book you could ask for some of the information on the bookmark.
Later on, when the students become very familiar with retelling the characters, the setting and the main parts of the book, they will learn to make inferences to fill in missing information, (e.g. Billy was probably feeling tired so he went to bed on time.) and be asked to retell causes of actions or events and their effects, (e.g. Jack wanted to play with his new car so he pretended not to hear his Mum. This caused him to almost miss the bedtime story.)
Click on the picture of the bookmark if you would like to have your own copy.
There are 2 YouTube videos that you might like to view.
Read, Cover, Remember, Retell shows how a teacher uses retelling for very easy books.
Retelling A Story shows how a teacher uses retelling for longer books.