Fiction Text Structure: Part Three

READ AND RETELL with Text Structure

So far, I’ve taken my student(s) through these steps in this mini-series on fiction text structure: (this is told as if I only did this with one student, but was done with several of my reading tutees)

1. READ AND IDENTIFY/LABEL the text structures within the text (Part 1)

2. READ AND SORT the text structures within the text (Part 2)

3. READ AND WRITE the text structure (also Part 2)

Now, it’s time to take it a step further: READ, WRITE, AND RETELL.  Could my tutee use the  information she gleaned from the text structure chart to help her retell the story?  I thought she was ready!


1. As a different way to review the plot elements, I had my student match up the text structure parts with their purpose or importance to the story with this sort: Fiction Text Structure Sort

2. She re-read Arthur’s Pet Business (from Part 2) by Marc Brown and explained her answers to me in the Blank Fiction Text Structure.

3. I explained that what she wrote in each of spaces are the important parts of the story.  These are the things we want to make sure we include in our retelling of the story.  There are other parts to the story, but those other parts aren’t as important, so we won’t include them in the retelling.

4. I modeled a good retelling first.  We discussed why this was a good retelling: 1- it includes all the important parts from the story found on our fiction text structure chart, 2-no unimportant details are in the retelling, and 3- it retells the story  in order.

Retelling 1: While D.W. and Arthur are looking at puppies, he decides he wants one.  His parents say he can get one, but he first has to show that he is responsible.  Arthur brainstorms over how he can show his parents he is responsible.  He decides to take care of other people’s pets.  Arthur has to take care of lots of pets, including Mrs. Wood’s pet Perky; who isn’t the nicest dog.  The animals almost take over his house, but Arthur manages to keep it all together.  That is, until Mrs. Wood shows up on the morning to get Perky and they can’t find her anywhere!  Finally, Arthur discovers her under his bed and she’s had puppies.  Mrs. Wood and Arthur’s parents agree that he can have one of Perky’s puppies.

5. We examined two “bad” retellings:

Retelling 2: Arthur and D.W. look at puppies through a store window.  He wants one and his parents say he can have one, if he can show that he is responsible enough.  All week, he takes care of Mrs. Wood’s dog, Perky.  On Sunday, he takes care of a canary.  On Tuesday, he takes care of an ant farm.  On Wednesday, he takes care of Brain’s frogs.  And on Thursday, he takes care of a trained boa constrictor.  Arthur finally proves that he is responsible enough to own a pet and when Perky has puppies, he gets to keep one of them!

(Retelling 2 focuses too much on the small details and completely leaves out the climax of the story.)

Retelling 3: Arthur wants a puppy.  He takes care of other people’s pets to see what it’s like to have a pet of his own.  He keeps a dog named Perky.  He took her on walks, tried to fix her favorite foods, and brushed her everyday.  He started to like Perky a little.  Perky’s owner comes back to get her and finds her under his bed; and she’s had puppies.  Arthur gets to keep one of them and that makes Arthur very happy.

(Retelling 3 does not include accurate information regarding the problem of the story.  It also makes light of his struggle to solve the problem & the climax.)

 6.  Homework for practice: She was given Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes to read, write in the blank structure template, then retell the story to her mom or another adult; making sure she included all the important parts in order.

It took all of my students a few weeks to get this new step down; so I did more modeling of good & bad retellings and we would examine them together.

Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this mini-series have been focused on texts that have a clearly defined plot.  Some fiction texts do not.  I am planning on posting a few activities I’ve done with these types of fiction soon. 

I hope this mini-series has been helpful for you and your young reader(s).  I’d love to hear feedback from you if you try any of these activities or create your own!


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