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Essay: Students retelling a story (learning objective, reflective)

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  • Published: 7 September 2021*
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The specific learning objective measured during the assessment chosen for analysis is students retelling a story, including who, what, when, and where, sequencing with the terms first, next, then and last. Students were asked to caption one of the four major events from the book using their prior knowledge and anchor chart.
The state standards addressed in this learning segment are K.RL.KID.2 With prompting and support, orally retell familiar stories, including key details and K.W.TTP.3 With prompting and support, use a combination of drawing, dictating, and/or writing to narrate a single event. Students should be able to describe characters, events, and setting, using key details in their explanation of events.
The students in my classroom demonstrated proficiency when retelling the events of a story or book. Most students could complete a verbal retell of the events at an independent level, but some students struggled when trying to differentiate the events in the middle of the book (next and then) and needed some prompting from the teacher. When asked to retell the events of a story, students were asked to relay key details such as who, what, when and where. Students were able to retell the story with most of the details required, but it seemed that many students struggled to relay “when” an event occurred. When asked to retell the story presented in the learning segment, students were required to use sequencing terms, vocabulary presented, and key details from the text. When students became stumped or needed help, they received one-on-one support from the teacher during small-group work. In this learning segment, please note that Focus Student 1 falls below expectation (student with a 504 Plan), Focus Student 2 meets expectation, and Focus Student 3 exceeded expectation.
When asked to retell the events of the story from beginning to end (sequencing), the majority (89%) of students were able to do so without prompting from the teacher. There were the fewest number of struggling students in completing this aspect of the task; I believe this is due to the fact that we discussed the terms “first, next, then and last” in great detail before Lesson 2. Only two students were unable to sequence events using the terms first, next, then and last correctly. The largest number of students mastered this aspect of retelling a story, which can arguably be one of the most important factors of a retell. All 3 of my focus students were able to use correct sequencing terms when discussing the text.
When asked to use vocabulary from the text, most (79%) students were able to do so. Students exhibited basic understanding of vocabulary terms but struggled to explain how to apply their knowledge of sequencing to a new text. Students were generally able to define and explain how we find “who, where, when, and what” from the book, but about 1/3 of the class struggled with how to determine “when” an event occurred, as mentioned previously. When students were asked “when” something occurred in the book, they often became confused. This was a common error that occurred during the students’ retells of the story.
None of the 3 focus students chosen from this learning segment relayed “when” each event occurred during their retells of the story. Focus Student 1 did not meet expectations, as this student only relayed two details from the text: who and what. Focus Student 2 met expectations, as this student relayed 3 out of 4 details from the text: who, where, and what. Focus Student 3 exceeded expectations, as this student relayed 3 out of 4 details from the text with great transition words and more detail. I felt that this finding from the 3 focus students was reflective of whole class learning, so I will plan to reengage students in a task that focuses on how to decide when something happens. In doing so, students can compare key words and visuals that give insight into when something occurs.
Students seemed to be able to recall key details well, as 84% were able to demonstrate their knowledge of the book during their retells. There are only 4 characters in the book, and only 2 that students become familiar with (see in more than one scene). I felt that students would easily remember details from the text, as it is developmentally appropriate for their age. All 3 of my focus students were able to identify the two main characters from the book: Corduroy and Lisa. I felt that this was reflective of whole group learning— students know how to identify and remember key details such as character, or “who.” Other important details include where something happened, when it happened, and what happened. As mentioned previously, students were able to identify “where” and “what,” but struggled to identify “when” an event occurred. To be considered as a student who “exceeds expectations,” students were required to identify 3 out of 4 key details and use necessary transition words during their retell. In relation to recalling key details, I had three students who were below expectation and five students who were above expectation.
There were few students who seemed to have a need for greater challenge as I based their assessments from ability. My highest level students seemed to be engaged with this lesson, as they were able to help other students spell words and create longer captions for their chosen scene from the book
I am going to have mini-conferences with all of my students during the next literacy block. Feedback will be written on a sticky note that is attached to their work, and we will discuss the feedback they were given. We will read their written retell aloud and conference about what the student did well and what the student did not do well. Overall, my students seemed to be able to use the selected language function of retelling. This ability was demonstrated through verbal retells of a story accompanied by captioning a scene from the book. Students were able to use the terms first, next, then, and last, and recognize characters, setting, and min events of the story. Students were able to use the supporting language functions of summarizing and sequencing.
The ability to retell a story varied pretty significantly in this classroom in terms of relaying key details and vocabulary knowledge. For two of my struggling readers, the task of retelling a story using appropriate transition words was difficult. These students needed prompts to appropriately sequence the events of the book. These students left out many key details when retelling the events of the story and had trouble remembering some characters names, such as Lisa and the Night Watchman. Level B-D students (the majority of the class) were able to use transition words appropriately and were able to sequence events correctly most of the time, although some students did struggle and need teacher prompting. Level B students were able to sequence the order of events but left out many key details when retelling the story.
In order for students to be able to correctly retell a story, they were required to sequence the four main events using the terms first, next, then and last. Though almost all of the class did this, many students left of important information to the story. Students generally left out information pertaining to “when” the story occurred, and “where” it occurred. In all 3 of my Focus Student’s written assessments, they demonstrated their ability to use their chosen scene’s required language use of the word “first.” In this assessment, students were tasked with using the appropriate sequencing word and sentence to match the scene of the picture. Students were asked to provide appropriate details in relation to the scene, demonstrating their knowledge and language use of the terms “who, what, when, and where.”
Students were able to successfully utilize the vocabulary and key phrases required of the learning segment. Students were able to demonstrate understanding of the terms first, next, then and last. Students demonstrated understanding of how to retell as I asked the class what words we use when we use this language function and several students raised their hands to answer: first, next, then and last. As a class, we thoroughly discussed these terms. Students were also required to have an understanding of the terms who, what, when and where in relation to a story. During the learning segment, all of these aspects of the book were discussed. Focus Student 1 demonstrated their knowledge of “who” and “what” in their writing: “First Lisas waated to buy Corduroy.” (First, Lisa wanted to buy Corduroy.) Focus Student 3 demonstrated their knowledge of “who,” “where,” and “what” in their writing: “In the first part of the story lisa wanted to buy Corduroy but she couldn’t buy Corduroy at the toy store.” Students seemed to have a good understanding of the terms presented and how to apply their knowledge of these terms to the story presented.
When I questioned students about who, what, when, and where, they demonstrated a clear understanding of “who” and “where” events were taking place. Students seemed to understand the concepts of “when” and “what” but both of these aspects of the story take some inferencing. I found this to be somewhat difficult for some students in the class to grasp. When we talked about “when” something was taking place, students generally relied on the pictures. Even when I scaffolded instruction and went back to reread certain sections of the book, students were confused when determining when something took place.
When retelling the order of events, students generally talked about who and what, but did not generally relay details such as when and where. Students talked about “what” was happening as they were depicting the scene from the four main events of the book. Students were asked to write a caption depending on their current reading level and ability. Some students explicitly talked about who, what, when, and where, but these students were prompted to give more information from the teacher to extend the lesson.
In terms of students understanding of syntax and discourse, most students demonstrated understanding of the requirements of this lesson. Students ability to use discourse was demonstrated throughout the entire learning segment: during the read aloud, turn and talk opportunities, higher order thinking questions, and small group work. During each of these activities, students had the opportunity to use the terms presented in the lesson and demonstrate and understanding of the discourse of the learning segment. When discussing the parts of the story in small group, all 3 focus students were able to give me an oral retell (oral discourse) of the events in the story, citing key details and correct vocabulary use. Focus Student 1 said, “You can always find the “first” part of the story at the beginning of the book.” Students were able to retell the order of events from the story and answer questions about the story.
Students demonstrated an understanding of syntax as they generally used proper capitalization and punctuation when captioning their chosen scene from the book. Focus Student 2 demonstrated their knowledge of syntax in their writing through capitalizing the first word in the sentence, and using a period at the end of the sentence: “First Lisa wanted to buy Corduroy at the store.” Focus Student 3 demonstrated their knowledge of syntax in their writing by using an apostrophe in the word “couldn’t:” In the first part of the story lisa wanted to buy Corduroy but she couldn’t buy Corduroy at the toy store. Though Focus Student 3 properly punctuated their sentence, they did not capitalize the proper noun “Lisa.”
I have no students with IEPS, and one student with a 504 plan. I have another student who is currently being screened for speech. When planning a learning segment, it is important to consider students’ prior knowledge, dispositions in the classroom, and academic areas that some students struggle with.
My next steps for learning in the classroom would take into account the amount of information gathered from the learning segment. Since the majority of the class demonstrated mastery, I will scaffold instruction from here. I will work with struggling readers and writers in small groups to improve reading comprehension through reading and retelling and using visual aids. Students were generally able to define and explain how we find “who, where, when, and what” from the book, but about 1/3 of the class struggled with how to determine “when” an event occurred, as mentioned previously. I believe that these terms could have been elaborated on more from the teacher standpoint. The largest number of students struggled with vocabulary use, which is why I believe students need a reengagement lesson on the terms that were required of the learning segment.
In terms of whole group instruction, I will continue to work on sequencing skills and use of transition words. The majority of class needs help when retelling a story as they rely too much on teacher prompting and aid. Students have the ability to retell a story on their own, but do not have the confidence to do so. Even my level C and D readers relied of teacher prompts, then they seemed to know the answer.
In this classroom, there are 4 struggling readers and writers, who had the support and accommodation of a print off anchor chart. I would like to provide visual aids on the print off anchor charts, as well as shorter sentences, in the future. To continue teaching these students, I will model the strategy of retelling during small group instruction. I will fill out mini anchor charts while reading to demonstrate the understanding of first, next, then and last. When students have the opportunity to witness a story being retold, it provides opportunity for them to observe and practice this strategy.
For students who have mastered the strategy of retelling, I will have these students demonstrate a deeper understanding for the story in their writing. These students will be expected to cite information in their writing relating to who, what, when, and where as well as first, next, then or last. These students will be asked to sequence more events as their understanding deepens, and use the words “beginning, middle, and end” or “first, next, then, after, last.” These students will use their knowledge gained from this lesson to scaffold instruction and knowledge for the next lesson.
To aid students in their ability to accurately retell the events from a story, I will continue working on this strategy in the classroom. I will model the strategy of retelling in longer and more difficult texts, relaying more key details from the text. I will give students more opportunities to participate in oral and written retelling of stories. I believe that scaffolding instruction is extremely important when teaching strategies such as these. Since students were asked to write a caption from one scene in the book, in the next assignment students will be asked to write a caption from all four scenes of the book.

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