Retelling & Recounting Stories: Exploring ELA

Retelling teaching ideas

I’m back with a new post all about Retelling & Recounting stories in the Exploring ELA series. Last week, I posted my first blog post about Asking and Answering questions. That standard spanned over the Literature domain and the Informational domain. Today’s blog topic is only found in the Literature domain…

Retelling and Recounting Stories, Fables, Folk Tales, and Myths

Here are the four standards we will be studying in this blog post:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.K.2- With prompting and support, retell familiar stories, including key details.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.1.2- Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate an understanding of their central message or lesson.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.2- Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.2- Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral, and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.

Buzz words: 

  • Retell
  • Recount
  • Folk Tale/Fable/Myth
  • Central Message/Moral/Lesson
  • Key Details in the Text

5 Key Tasks for Teachers:

1. Teach the retell/recount strategy.

There are many important pieces of this standard. The first thing you need to focus on is teaching a student how to retell or recount a story. No matter what type of text they are reading, recounting/retelling are the two most important power verbs from the RL2 standards in first, second, and third grade.

Recounting anchor chart
Story cubes

Learning Resources Retell A Story Cubes, 6-Pack
My class always loved the retelling dice that I bought off of Amazon. This was fantastic when they read easy readers with partners and used dice to discuss the story. The link above is an Amazon affiliate link!

Retell/recount mini lessons

(Mini lesson from my RL1.2 pack) [Links below]
One thing that really helped my first and second graders when teaching the retelling standard was color coding. We always used red, yellow, and blue to put brackets around our beginning, middle, and end of the stories. Another option is to give them tasks for each color. For example: “Grab a red crayon and underline the part of the text that shows the character’s problem.”

2. Differentiate between folk tales, fables, myths, and fictional stories.

After the students have a firm grasp on the retelling and recounting, then you can start to truly focus on the different types of fictional stories. Now, first grade teachers, this is NOT required for you to teach, but it won’t hurt your firsties to learn different types of fictional stories. Second grade teachers, you’re in charge of teaching folktales and fables. Third grade teachers, you’re in charge of teaching folktales, fables, and myths.

Teaching fiction, folk tales, fables, and myths anchor chart

I tried to keep up an anchor chart throughout the unit so that students could constantly refer to it if they had any questions about differentiating between the types of a fictional text.

Folk tales, fables, and myth packets

(KWL charts and charts part of my RL2.2 and RL3.2 packs) [Links below]
Learning students’ prior knowledge is very important to do when teaching new ideas. We made folktale and fable KWL charts when teaching that unit. Students were able to identify their misconceptions and correct them with new knowledge. These mini anchor charts also stayed up near the 4-square anchor chart shown above.

3. Introduce moral, lesson, and central messages.

Since this standard is so complex, it needed to have three parts. The third part to teach when doing the retell/recount standard is to focus on the lesson/moral/central message.  This was always a difficult task to do because we have been teaching students to be so text-evidence based, but in many stories, the moral is not right there in black and white. It takes a lot of practice and inference skills to get lessons and morals mastered. Practice makes perfect.

Chart, mini lessons, and printables packets

(Chart, mini lesson, and printable are all part of my RL1.2RL2.2, and RL3.2 packs.) [Links below]

4. Practice the text-based strategy.

While part of this standard is not always text-based answers, the act of retelling does require students to use the text to find an answer. Looking back in the text after reading (more than once) is a very important strategy to use in retelling & recounting stories. As mentioned in Task #1 above, color coding really helped my students. Being able to see it visually helped them. In the two pictures below, you can see how different color brackets help divide up passages. This makes it more visual for students to be able to go back and find the answers in the text.

Underlining answers is always key, too! I never let my students turn in their reading passages and comprehension questions unless I see accurate underlines within the passage.

(Retell passage part of RL1.2) (Myths activities part of RL3.2) [Links below]

5. Let them practice in many ways.

I mentioned in the previous blog post on Asking and Answering questions how important it was to make sure you’re always changing up your daily activities to avoid students from checking out.

Ideas for practice

  • Turn and Talk activities whole group
  • Task Cards
  • Interactive Notebooks
  • Passages
  • Printables to use with real texts
  • Read to Self Self-Checking Cards
  • Read to Someone Self-Checking Cards

(Printables, task cards, and interactive notebooks are all part of my RLK.2, RL1.2, RL2.2, and RL3.2 packs.) [Links below]

Need group read alouds?

Mentor texts for retelling and recounting

Key skills to hit- retelling/recounting, moral/lesson, folk tales, fables, myths

Grab your grade level resources here:

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