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Teaching Tip: The Power of Retelling a Story

power of retellingLast school year I had the opportunity to support second and third grade students in reading. I knew that the students were struggling with decoding words but what I  was surprised to hear from the second grade teachers was that based on their DIBELS testing the students were not able to retell a story that had been read to them. Retelling may seem like an easy task to master but retelling a story can prove to be an enormous task for many young learners.

Retelling a story requires students to be able to recall where the story took place, who was in the story, and the events that took place in the story. The story’s events then must be recalled in the same order in which they happened in the story. Many k-2 teachers do not see the connection to a student’s inability to retell a story in second grade to a fourth grade student’s inability to summarize a story. If a student struggles with retelling he/she will struggle with summarizing a story because both skills require the student to follow the story’s structure and provide and recall details and events from the story in sequential order. For example, if an upper elementary student is reading a narrative he/she should understand that a narrative will have a beginning, middle and end. When the story is retold as a summary it should be told in same manner in which it was written.

The Power of Retelling is a resource that can help first and second grade students to master retelling before reaching fourth grade.


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