Fist to Five: A Retell Strategy

Learning to retell a fictional story isn't something that comes easily to students in the detail we're expecting as educators. I've tried many different strategies for teaching students to retell in primary grades, but my kiddos' retells were always lacking. For example, if I asked them to give me a "beginning, middle and end" summary that's about all I got... no mention of characters or setting. Needing more, I created this Fist to Five retell strategy.

Teach this retelling strategy to your students for a complete retell every time! Using this retell activity and retell anchor chart, your primary students will share a complete account of their fiction text. When an oral retell has been mastered, move on to written retell skills with these resources!
I watch my little ones use their fingers to make all sorts of learning tangible, so why not this? Standardize it so we're all thinking the same things, and the retells are all-of-a-sudden complete and thorough!

First is the thumb: I ask my students to tell me who the main characters are and explain the setting (where and when the story takes place). I love that they use their thumb for this part... it is separate enough from their fingers that they recognize the connection to the retell of the story, but know that it is really additional detail information beyond the retell itself.

Teach this retelling strategy to your students for a complete retell every time! Using this retell activity and retell anchor chart, your primary students will share a complete account of their fiction text. When an oral retell has been mastered, move on to written retell skills with these resources!

Next, students also raise their index finger and explain the beginning of the story.

Teach this retelling strategy to your students for a complete retell every time! Using this retell activity and retell anchor chart, your primary students will share a complete account of their fiction text. When an oral retell has been mastered, move on to written retell skills with these resources!

The middle and ring fingers are raised to give two important details for the middle of the story, or how the story progresses.

Teach this retelling strategy to your students for a complete retell every time! Using this retell activity and retell anchor chart, your primary students will share a complete account of their fiction text. When an oral retell has been mastered, move on to written retell skills with these resources!

Finally, the little finger is raised to explain the ending. Here, my students are expected to tell how the problem in the story is resolved.

Teach this retelling strategy to your students for a complete retell every time! Using this retell activity and retell anchor chart, your primary students will share a complete account of their fiction text. When an oral retell has been mastered, move on to written retell skills with these resources!

I'm SO impressed with how this structure has helped my students organize their thinking when retelling a story. We created an anchor chart to help us remember the steps:

Teach this retelling strategy to your students for a complete retell every time! Using this retell activity and retell anchor chart, your primary students will share a complete account of their fiction text. When an oral retell has been mastered, move on to written retell skills with these resources!

I LOVE the little hand graphics from Teacher Laura on TpT!

Once my students are successful with the oral retells I begin to introduce how to use graphic organizers to create a written retell using the gradual release model. I begin the process by modeling on the SMART Board and moving toward my students writing independent retells on paper. My "Good Readers" Reading Response Graphic Organizers are perfect for this!

Teach this retelling strategy to your students for a complete retell every time! Using this retell activity and retell anchor chart, your primary students will share a complete account of their fiction text. When an oral retell has been mastered, move on to written retell skills with these resources!

This 40-page resource is perfect for scaffolding student responses as they move from oral retells to written, and includes a SMART Board file with every graphic organizer for whole-class display, and blackline copies for individual student use! Click the image to check out the details!

This resource is also available in a Google Drive format!

Teach this retelling strategy to your students for a complete retell every time! Using this retell activity and retell anchor chart, your primary students will share a complete account of their fiction text. When an oral retell has been mastered, move on to written retell skills with these resources!

You might also be interested in the ideas I've shared in this blog post:

Teach this retelling strategy to your students for a complete retell every time! Using this retell activity and retell anchor chart, your primary students will share a complete account of their fiction text. When an oral retell has been mastered, move on to written retell skills with these resources!

The resources and strategies on this Pinterest board might also be helpful:


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Teach this retelling strategy to your students for a complete retell every time! Using this retell activity and retell anchor chart, your primary students will share a complete account of their fiction text. When an oral retell has been mastered, move on to written retell skills with these resources!

2 comments

  1. Erin, I love your 'Fist to Five' technique, pinned it and plan to make it a regular part of my lessons, too! Simple, straightforward, easy to remember! Thanks for a great post!

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    1. Thank you so much! My students have been really successful with it! :)

      ~Erin

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