Are you looking for effective strategies to improve your students’ ability to retell and recount stories? Anchor charts can be a powerful tool in helping students to understand the key elements of a story and to organize their thoughts when summarizing or retelling a text. In this blog post, we will explore the use of recount and retell anchor charts in the classroom, and discuss how they can be used to support students in developing their comprehension and storytelling skills. Whether you’re a seasoned educator or a new teacher, these are the 3 anchor charts you need to teach recounting and retelling stories. So, let’s dive in!
The 5-Finger Retell Anchor Chart
First: The 5-Finger Retell
This anchor chart is simple and effective. Teach your students the “5-Finger Retell” by drawing a hand on your page. Label each of the fingers with the following retell components-
- Characters– The first thing students want to retell is the main characters.
- Setting– Then, students need to describe the setting in the story.
- Events (Beginning, Middle, End) – Next, the students need to retell the events in the story: The Beginning, Middle, and End. I like to think of the events of a story like a roller coaster. Students can think back to what happened in the beginning, what was the turning point in the story, and how did the story end or resolve itself.
- Moral– Lastly, *if* you’ve taught about the moral or lesson of the story, students will recount it. The palm of the hand is used for this part.
Make it interactive by having your students trace their hands in their reading notebooks to create their own mini-version of the “5-Finger Retell.” They can refer back to it any time they need!
When teaching the 5-Finger Retell, use your actual hand to model counting off each finger and retelling the parts. Have students copy your movements and descriptions. After several instances of modeling and recounting the story together, have them practice on their own or with a partner!
SWBST Anchor Chart
Another strategy for recounting and retelling stories is the “SWBST” or “Somebody Wanted But So Then” summary. Label your paper down the side with the letters SWBST. I like to leave room for sticky notes on the left so that we can practice the strategy again and again.
Next to each letter, record the meaning and prompting questions:
- S- Somebody: Who is/are the main character(s)?
- W- Wanted: What did the main character(s) want?
- B-But: What was the problem? What kept the main character(s) from getting what they wanted?
- S-So: How did the main character(s) solve the problem?
- T-Then: What was the resolution to the story? How did the story end?
Similarly, you will need to model this practice for your students several times. As I mentioned, leaving room for sticky notes allows you to reuse this anchor chart. Laminate the poster and it will last you years.
A simple way to implement this strategy is to keep the anchor chart close-by when you are teaching your mini-lessons.
At the end of each read aloud or mentor text, stop and use the SWBST summary.
- “S-Somebody. Who was our story about?” Have students help you recall the information. Fill out the sticky note and stick it on the chart.
- “W-Wanted. What did they want in our story?” Have students help you recall the information. Fill out the sticky note and stick it on the chart.
- “B-But. What was the problem? Why couldn’t they _______?” Have students help you recall the information. Fill out the sticky note and stick it on the chart.
- “S-So. What did they do to solve this problem?” Have students help you recall the information. Fill out the sticky note and stick it on the chart.
- “T-Then. How did the story end? What was the resolution?” Have students help you recall the information. Fill out the sticky note and stick it on the chart.
After several examples and modeling, your students will master this skill! And, then they will be able to easily summarize the stories they read on their own!
The Heart of the Story Anchor Chart
Lastly, you will want an anchor chart that describes the moral. Students will need to understand that most stories contain morals or lessons.
- Draw a big heart in the center of your paper.
- Write “The HEART of the story” inside
- List the questions a reader should ask themselves to help them understand the moral.
- What is the problem?
- How does the character respond to the problem?
- What lesson does the character learn?
- I like to include the question- “What lesson does the author want the reader to learn/understand?” as well. Many times it will help students who struggle with character or plot events think about the lesson from a different perspective.
After teaching about the moral or lesson in a story, you can include that in your retelling strategies- adding the heart/palm in your 5-Finger Retell, and adding the lesson or moral in the “Then/Resolution” part of SWBST.
Printable Anchor Charts
Don’t forget that you have printable versions within your ELA Units! You can simply print or display the Recount/Retell Anchor Charts from the units if you don’t want to make your own (or don’t have time).
I mentioned this is a previous post but here are some of my favorite ways that teachers have used the printable formats:
- Make Anchor Chart Rings–
- Print 2 per page.
- Cut & Laminate them.
- Hole punch in the corner & connect with binder rings.
- Can make several “sets” and hang them near the library, along the bottom of a bulletin board or keep one at each pod of desks.
- Make Digital Anchor Chart Collections-
- Share digital anchor charts each time you’re teaching a skill.
- Be sure to name the digital PNG or PDF with an easily searchable title.
- Students can “search” for their anchor charts within your shared drive or online classroom platform when they need them.
- Can also be shared in the “documents” or “files” section of your online classroom platform or drive. *I would recommend sorting them into Domain Folders- Language, RL, RI, W, SL, & RF
- Display Around the Room-
- Print pages in “poster” size as you teach each skill.
- Laminate & display them on a bulletin board or other accessible location.
- Be sure these are always in the same area so that students know to use them for reinforcement.
- Example: Some teachers have one bulletin board dedicated to current ELA skills. Laminated Posters can be hole-punched twice on the top and two binder rings can connect the posters, building a set as you learn new skills. At any point, you can flip back to previously learned skills to reinforce learning.
Ready-Made Resources for Teaching Recount/Retell
If you’re teaching Recounting & Retelling in your classroom and would like to plan without recreating the wheel, I have complete, no-prep units for you! Each unit comes with lesson plans, anchor charts, activities, graphic organizers, reading comprehension passages, interactive notebook pages, task cards, and an assessment! Teach your kiddos to recount & retell without the added prep and planning!