Adventures in CI Activities: ReTell

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October 2021

It’s that time where you’ve finished a story but you only have 10 minutes of class left. Or that time when you need to review a story but end up re-reading it instead. Or that time when you wanted to give your advanced students a chance to verbally use the language, but not leave anyone else behind.

I feel you. I’m in that boat with you! …But you can change those times and turn them into new times. 

How do you do that? By arming yourself with simple strategies that require zero prep work and can be used at any time in any situation! Strategies like ReTell

WHO: The ‘main’ way to do a ReTell is with a teacher facilitated activity; however, the students are the ones coming up with the information and the order of events. The teacher is simply directing the conversation.

WHAT: ReTell, in short, is a recall activity done collaboratively as a class, in teams, or even individually. 

WHEN: I love to use a ReTell the day after completing a story, but it could be any time after completing a story. 

WHERE: typically on the board/screen/paper in front of your students. Everyone should be looking at the same information.

WHY: ReTell is a powerful way to determine not only which students had a solid understanding of the text/story, but also which students can determine the importance of events and which students can determine the order of events. 

HOW: the big question! First, I lead a ReTell just like I would any of other part of class: in comprehensible Spanish. Here is how I facilitate a ReTell in my classroom. I begin by establishing that yesterday we read a story together and what the story what called/about. Once I can tell that all of my students understand that we’re talking about the text we read yesterday I tell them I want to know the 6 most important events from the story (you can do more or less, but 6 has become a happy number for me). I use a slide on my smartboard to list out the title of the story & #1-6. I write on the board with a pen the events as students say them. This is usually when students start volunteering. I allow my students to respond in English or Spanish (or Spanglish) but most choose to respond in English with occasional Spanish words. Every now and then a student attempts a complete Spanish answer. My response is always repeating their answer back to them in Spanish, then asking the class “yes or no: is this part of the story?” 99% of the time it’s yes. So I follow up with “what number in the story is it?” and I have them all show me 1-6 fingers. If needed I allow discussion of why it should or shouldn’t be a number. Then I repeat and repeat and repeat until the last event number (this usually means they’re stumped). And I’ll ask questions to get one more event out of them. Once the event list is complete I give students 30 seconds to turn and talk to their neighbor (English or Spanish) about how good our summary is (1-5, unbelievably not related to perfection) and then they should me. Most students say 4, some will say 2/3. I ask my 2/3s “why 2/3” and this is another amazing opportunity to bring up smaller details from the story or things that could’ve been said differently etc. 

Bonuses: Here is a link to a free “ReTell” printable you can have your students use in pairs/teams/individuals as a ticket out the door or even a class activity. You will need to make a copy of this document to edit or print it. 

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