Read and Retell

Read and Retell

One of my all time favourite reading and writing strategies to teach is 'Read and Retell.' I learned about it from my favourite ever Principal and I've recently pulled it out of my virtual teaching kete (bag) to help me with some students I tutor. 

Retellng a heard story through writing is a great way of students increasing their writing output and increasing their vocabulary while helping with comprehension. It works equally well with non fiction or fiction texts. It works brilliantly with children of all ages. 

If you are doing this as a combined reading and writing task you will need a text that can be read in around three to five minutes independently by the student. When trying this for the first time I recommend a really engaging fictional text that would appeal to the student's interest or knowledge base.

There are a few ways of implementing this strategy but I thought I would share what I do. 

1) I introduce the title of the text. I ask the child to write down 10 words that they think could be in the text. if the child is reluctant to give this a go or stops after one or two words I ask them to write down words that they know are used often in writing e.g. the, in, a. 

2) I read the text aloud, while reading I ask the child to tick off any words they had on their list that they heard me read. 

3) I read the text again, this time the child is encouraged to doodle or close their eyes or do whatever works for them. 

4) Next I give them a copy of the text and I again read while they follow along. I regularly look up to check the child is reading and following along and help any students who are 'lost.'

5) I give the child 5-7 minutes to independently read and highlight or doodle on the paper. 

6) I ask the child to turn the copy of the text over or give it back to me and ask them to rewrite the story in their own words. 

7) At the end children can share their writing with the group if they want to. 


If you are working with children who are not yet able to write independently by themselves you can do an oral retell or the child can draw pictures of the story in order using a graphic organiser that you have prepared. 

Alternatively you could ask the children to explain to a partner about the story using the five finger technique 

-Who (was in the story)

-What (happened) 

-Where did the story take place

-When did it happen

-Why did the conflict/problem happen.

If you have children with executive function or working memory issues allow them to have a copy of the text nearby to refer to. 

I've had great success with this using my Geographic Impressionistic Chart scripts. You can get a copy of 'Fire and Ice' from here

I also use the geographic impressionistic charts to help with visualising. You can read about that here.

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