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Visual Retelling Stick

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been focusing on retelling a story with my RTI group.  They are doing a great job at this skill.  We’ve been using my Read & Retell pack and I must say they are SO good at being reading coaches!  This morning, I had a few kids absent and it threw my plans off a bit.  I decided to throw my plans out the window and improvise because a few of my kiddos could not remember to say the characters’ names during their retelling.  They wanted to jump straight into the middle of the story or just generalize the characters by saying “they” or “the animals” instead of being specific.   I thought that a visual might help these kiddos out!  

I’ve had these foam Popsicle sticks in my craft drawer since the end of last year.  I wasn’t sure what to do with them until this morning!  I passed out a popsicle stick to each student and handed them a black marker. We discussed the steps to retell a story and came up with this little visual to help them remember what to retell:

The stick person helps us remember to name the characters in the story.  The house represents the “where” part of the setting and the sun represents the “when” part of the setting.  The B, M, E stands for the beginning, middle, and end.  The thought bubble at the end of the stick helps the kids to remember to talk about what the story reminds them of (this is a question that is asked on the DRA).  We discussed how a reader needs to really think about the story and connect it to his or her life or other books he has read. We decided that a thought bubble would help us remember to do this! 🙂
After we made our visual retelling sticks, we practiced using them with our partners on a story we read together.  While many of the kids did not need this visual reminder, it really did help out some of the kids that were struggling with parts of their retelling.  A lot of my kids do really well with other retelling tools such as a retelling rope or even a bookmark with the words First, Then, Next, After, and Last.  But as we all know, not every idea works for every student. It often just takes a new way of looking at something for a strategy or skill to “click” with a student. If we can use as many tactics and styles of learning as possible, we’re bound to help each student find the tool that helps them the most! 🙂
You could create these visual retelling sticks on large Popsicle sticks or even on a blank bookmarks.  I found that when the students draw the picture cues themselves, they attach more meaning to the tool. My students are keeping these retelling sticks in their book bins to use during Read to Self and small groups.  I hope you find this easy, cheap comprehension tool effective for your students! 🙂

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  1. Love this! Maybe the first / then / next / after / last sequence words could go on the back. Or glue a big googly eye to one end as a reminder to 'look' back into the text. Could also be used as a tracker during reading as a reminder of what information is important to remember.


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