One of my students’ very favorite reading strategies is called Stepping Through The Story.  Today I did this retelling strategy with my first graders.

What is this strategy for?: To be used as a retelling tool for students.

How does the strategy work?: Students are given 1 piece of paper per plot point in the story.  You hand each student their pieces of paper and ask them to lay them out–can be in a line or a curve.  I ask my students to lay them out with spaces in between.  (My kids in the photo above didn’t leave themselves very much room.  I typically like there to be a good 8-12 inches between the papers so the kids really get the movement of stepping through the story.)  Students are to start on the first paper and tell what happened at the beginning of the story.  Students then step to the next paper when they tell the next plot point or what happened next in the story.  They continue stepping to the next pieces of paper as they retell the story until the land on the final piece of paper and tell what happened at the end of the story.

Why use this strategy?: Students in our building really struggled with retelling when it came to DRA2 testing throughout the year.  We quickly realized this was something we needed to work harder on.  Brain-based research has shown a connection with students retaining more information when you cross both sides of the brain–such as involving moment/Physical Education into the learning.  My kids love getting out of their seat and hopping on pieces of paper to retell the story.  It always seems that they remember the story much better after we use this strategy rather than just a verbal retelling or just comprehension questions alone.  Students are eager to share and can’t wait to move to the next paper.  It’s good to get the wiggles out while having fun and learning.  I’ve found that all of my groups in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade love this strategy.

Materials needed: 1 piece of paper per plot point in the story times however many students you have in a group.  (10 plot points x 4 students = 40 pieces of paper)  I am big of visual representation and so I really like to use a different color for each plot point.  I think it just really shows that this is a different point in the story and it’s easy to see with the color change.

Helpful information: The first time I did this last year I used one piece of paper for a group of 4 students.  I thought they could each put a foot on the corner of the paper.  This did not work.  There was plenty of pushing and arguing and I spent more time doing crowd control than helping them with retelling.  I decided to cut the paper into 1/4th the size so they each could have their own section.  This takes up more space, but it has eliminated all behavior problems.  Now they get to lay down their own cards in their own space and it just makes more sense!  All students love to help so I have them each pick up their own papers and hand them in when finished.

This is a strategy that I use with my groups as frequently as possible.  I usually devote 10 minutes to this strategy by the time you hand out papers, step through the story, and pick up the papers.  It’s a quick way to move, learn, and have fun!