The Tell Tale Students

Growing Independence and Fluency Lesson Plan
Shay Mink

Rationale: I am teaching this lesson to my students so that they will become more creative and enthusiastic readers.  I want my students to realize that books are just not pages with words, but they are adventures that we have with characters.  Through this lesson, students will have the ability to retell a story enthusiastically and with dramatic voices.  Children's story retellings have proven to be an extremely good indicator of reading comprehension.  (Eldredge, 1995)  Students will also have an opportunity to read silently.

Materials: Twice Upon a Time by Judy Sierra and Robert Kaminski
                 The Adventures of Spider by Joyce Cooper Arkhurst
                 Anansi and the Talking Melon, retold by Eric Kimmel
                 Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti, by Gerald McDermott
                 Why Spider Spins Tales, retold by Janet Palazzo-Craig

1.  Teacher will explain to the student that one of the most interesting ways to learn new stories is to not only read them, but to have them told to you with excitement and with an enthusiastic voice.  Today as a class, we will be studying how to effectively tell a story so that EVERYONE will hear what we have to say.
2. Teacher will recite aloud with monotone voice, "One starry night in the heat of the summer, two children were walking along a path when they saw a bright pair of headlights coming up the road.  Who could the visitor be?  Grandma?  Grandpa?  Uncle Earl?  Or could it be the old woman from across town who had something those children had been dreaming about?"
Next, the teacher will reread the passage with a lackadaisical and then a mysterious voice.
3. Teacher will ask the class which interpretation they liked better.  Ask students to explain why they were more interested in the story the second time.
4. Teacher will explain that when a person changes the tone of their voice, interested is perked in an audience.  Teacher will ask students to discuss in their groups what television shows they like and the characters that are most interesting.  Would the character be as interesting if the actor just stood still and talked in one tone?  Would the character be as interesting if the actor had his lines on a sheet of paper in front of him?
5. Teacher will distribute books.  Everyone in the same group will have the same book.  Teacher will ask everyone to read the first page of their book at the top of their lungs.  When everyone is done, teacher will explain that it was hard to concentrate when everyone was talking out loud, so when they read their story, they are going to read the text to themselves.  If they have any problems reading the story, they should raise their hand ask the teacher for aide.  Students should read the text twice:  once for the enjoyment of the story, the second time thinking of how they would tell the story so that everyone would want to hear it.  Where would they use a high squeaky voice?  When would their voice be bold and strong?
6. The class will split into different groups, so that each new group will only have one person from each old group.  Each student will retell their story to their new group.  Animation and movement will be used.  Inflection will be heard in voices.
7. Each student will write in their journal about their new story and what they thought of their group members' story.  How could you have read your story better?  What did you like about you telling your story?  What did you like about the other members stories?  How would you have told their story differently?
8. For assessment, teacher will assess the journals that the students wrote in to see if they comprehended the story that was told to them and what improvements they would make in the future if the retold the story.


Akhurst, C. J. (1992). The Adventures of Spider: West African Folktales.  Little Brown & Co

Eldredge, J. L. (1995). Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms. Prentice-Hall.. p.168

Kimmel, E. (1995) Anansi and the Talking Melon. Holiday House

McDermott, G. (1987) Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti. Henry Holt & Company

Palazzo-Craig, J. (1997)  Why Spider Spins Tales. Bt. Bound

Sierra, J. and Kaminski, R.  (1989) Twice upon a Time: Stories to Tell, Retell, Act Out, and Write About. H.W. Wilson

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