It’s pretty easy to come up with many different ways to review portions of a story, but I’ve always had trouble thinking of unique activities that allow students to re-generate an entire text. Cynthia Hitz’s “Back At’cha” works well for this, as does creating a Class Storybook. These activities are great, because they allow the teacher to lead the class through a complete re-tell of the story without simply asking the class, “What happens next?” “And then?” “And then?”. Another activity that works pretty well is what I’ll call “Story Strips”. Use this activity after you have finished asking a class story or reading a story-based text (ex: a novel, short story, or chapter of a novel). It is a good way to generate a complete version of the text in writing and remind students of everything that happened.
- Cut 8.5”x11” pieces of computer paper (new or scrap) into four strips, the long way (landscape orientation). Cut up enough strips for each student in your class to have two.
- Distribute one strip to each student.
- Instruct students to write one line from the story on their strip of paper.
- Collect the strips from students one-by-one. Each time that you take a strip from a student, read it aloud (correcting it as you say it so that students do not hear any errors).
- Circle the sentence, and then tape it to the board. If possible, personalize it as well. If you are unfamiliar with the circling or personalization strategy, please visit this link.
- After you tape each one to the board, collect another strip from another student. Read it aloud to the class, then ask them if it is a new event or a repeat. If it is a repeat, tape it on top of the strip that it repeats that was already taped to the board. If it is a new event, tape it to the board in a way that creates a timeline: either above or below or to the left or right of previously added events. Ask students questions to help you determine where it should go: this will give them repetitions of sequencing vocabulary as well as the structures contained within the story. **While you are doing this, have a student type the story–projected so that the class can see it, if possible–or write it down in a notebook if typing is not an option.
- Repeat #4-6 until all strips have been added to the board.
- Once all strips have been collected, distribute a second strip to each student. ‘
- Instruct students to write a “missing” event or piece of information from the story on their second strip (if there are not many missing, students could work in pairs to do this).
- Repeat steps #4-6 until you have a complete version of the story taped in chronological order on the board, then read it together!
You now have a complete text. This will allow you to do some of my favorite activities like a Blind Re-tell or Write, Draw, Pass, and it prevents you from finding yourself in the unfortunate position of planning activities for the next day and forgetting what happened in the class’s story! Voila!
What are some activities that you’ve used to generate complete, written re-tells?