Betsy and reading re-tell

Some of you may use Betsy’s technique of setting kids in pairs, one half with their back to a projection of a story they’ve just been reading, and one sitting so they can read it. The ones who can read gesture and hint so that the ones with their back to the projection tell the story correctly. The benefit goes (surprise!) to the kids who are reading, not the ones who are speaking. They have to read, understand, gesture to generate speech in their partner, listen, and then correct. They do need to be solid in their comprehension, and there really shouldn’t be any new words.

Today we were reading the first version of an embedded reading of a fairy tale in my advanced group (Gusi-Lebedi, Geese-swans). I asked the kids to work in pairs, but they looked confused and I realized I’ve only used the technique in my first-year classes recently. Thus I started to demo, with me as the speaker. It was very funny. First of all, I didn’t really know the story well enough myself (oops; that was a big clue that it was too early to be doing this). The kids were all doing different motions to make me understand when the geese were flying by, as opposed to arriving by flight, or the kids were running, or the parents were leaving by vehicle, not foot. The hardest part for me was that I’d forgotten that there were imperatives in the text, and I didn’t remember at all what form they took. One kid stood up, stomped his foot, and pointed at me harshly while pretending to drink. “Drink!” I finally blurted out.

It turned out that it worked best to have everyone reading and gesturing, because at the end, they knew the story well and started to tell it themselves, and we all had a very funny time together.

I should have been filming.


One response to “Betsy and reading re-tell

  1. Michele,
    Thank you for sharing this great activity. Today in class, we had so much fun in so many levels. It was great! I’m drying out with my reading activities. This is perfect!
    Thank you again,


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