Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Retell Shmetell

One thing that both of my boys are HORRIBLE at is retell. I am not sure if it is because of their speech delays or attention... who knows?!??!? They have a hard time with reading retell, but they also have a really difficult time with daily retell in general. I really have to prompt them to get them to tell me all about their day and they often go off into tangents or sometimes completely lose focus and start telling me about their favorite toys. In fact, Andrew's reading retell is the poorest part of his academic performance at school right now. So, now I need to come up with ways to help them learn how to retell. I am also doing this with Kate for preschool, but she already seems to be a natural at retelling everything and finds this very easy.

Fairy Tale Retell
Don't you just love when you come up with a name to an activity and it just fits well and maybe even rhymes a little.

  1. First, I read a fairy tale from a fairy tale book that I have. The hope is that these stories are already familiar enough that the kids kind of know what is going to happen.
  2. I sit the kids down on the rug and have them look at the pictures that go along with the fairy tale. That way, they are able to remember what happened during the story.
  3. I then have them tell me step by step what happened in the story. I prompt them at the moment by writing numbers on the white board and asking them, "What happened first?" "What happened next?" The goal is to have this be the only prompting and to occasionally remove all prompts.
  4. I then have them re-read what I wrote on the whiteboard for them. This is so they can get practice retelling without me having to ask questions. I am hoping the process will be more ingrained in their brains by doing it this way.
The white board as Ben retold me the story of Godilocks.

Eventually, THEY will read the stories. I just want them to start out by having me read them to them to practice the narrating and retelling. Once that skill seems to be under control, we will move to them reading it and then retelling it. We are still practicing this skill with all books that we read, trying with and without prompts. This is just a time a couple of times a week that is set aside specifically to work on it.

Modified Readers' Theater
Benjamin is a very kinesthetic learner. So, I decided that a good way for Ben to really understand what he is reading is by having him act it out. I have been having him do this with stories that have a clear storyline. In general, this activity doesn't work well with phonics readers.

  1. I take a story that has recently been read by either Ben or by me to the kids. I take the most popular characters and assign those parts to one of the kids to act out the part.
  2. I then re-read the story (editing out unimportant details) aloud while the kids act out what I am reading. 
We do this activity both with puppets and with the kids as the actors. They LOVE to pretend to be the villains or the heroes and do a great job creating voices and movements to be the characters.

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