Supplemental Activities


Read Naturally Strategy programs: Ideas for Prediction/Retell steps



The prediction step teaches students to prepare to read by thinking about the topic in the story. This has been shown to aid readers’ comprehension; when students read the story, they learn to look for the information in the story.

Because of the importance of the prediction step, it can be beneficial for teachers to review the student’s prediction later in the process, for example, when the teacher is reviewing the retelling that the student wrote. The teacher might ask the student if his or her prediction was accurate and why or why not, or the teacher might ask students to add a brief statement to their retellings about whether their predictions were accurate. If a student knows that their prediction will be reviewed or discussed, they will likely put more time and effort into it and thereby benefit from this good reading practice.

In Read Naturally Live, the student's prediction can be seen on the Story Details tab during the Review Work portion of the Pass Step.

Dr. Timothy Rasinski [Kent State University]
Have students write a sentence that predicts what the story is about using at least two of the key words defined for the story. Then, after reading the story, have the student determine whether the sentence is true. If the sentence is true, the student writes "True" next to the sentence. If the sentence is false, the student writes "False" next to the sentence and rewrites it to make it true. Another prediction and retell activity is to ask the student to write a question before reading the story that asks something the student hopes to learn from the story. Then at the end of the story, the student must determine whether the information in the story answers the question asked. If not, the teacher could include an extending activity and ask the student to find the answer to the unanswered question.


Lynette Bachman, a reading teacher in Illinois, took the Retell step to a new level by formatting it similar to the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) writing. As a result of this emphasis on writing stronger retellings of the stories, some of her reading improvement students produced sizable and well-organized writing responses both in their classrooms and on the ISAT standardized test.

A Retell Step Directions page guides her students step-by-step through retelling each story. First, she directs students to use the Retell Organizer to identify the main idea and at least two details from the story. She provides sentence starters to prompt students to “Tell Me More” by expressing their personal thoughts related to the story or other connections they can make to the story.

Students are then directed to write their retellings of the stories. When students are finished, they use the Retell Checklist to check their work against a list of requirements before the teacher reviews their work. The students give themselves a plus (+) or check mark in each square indicating they checked for that specific element. Students can give themselves smiley faces if they feel they've done a good job.  

pointer​ Download the Retell Step Directions, Organizer, and Checklist

Students then use the red/green card system to indicate when they need the teacher to check their work. When the teacher notices that a student has turned the card to red to check the Retell step, the teacher reminds the student to be sure to use the Retell Checklist to self-evaluate the work before asking the teacher to check it. If the teacher starts to read and notices the student did not check for a certain element, the student is directed to correct it.  
Lynette noted that she makes it a point to share good examples of how to retell a story with the group.

“It's great modeling for struggling students, and students are so proud when we ask to share their stories.” She went on to explain, “We make certain each student in the group gets group recognition for their good work on a regular basis. Someone is always getting their highest cold read or hot read, answering question #5 really well, reading with no errors, or retelling a story well.”

Important Note: The Read Naturally strategy is highly effective when it is implemented for at least 30 minutes per day, three to five times per week. The more students read, the better readers they become. Teachers who choose to put greater emphasis on the Retell step should plan to increase the allotted time for Read Naturally.


Set a time limit for the retelling (e.g., five minutes is the default in Read Naturally Live), and have the students write everything they can remember from the story in the time available.  In Read Naturally Live, select the Retell Graph tab during the Review Work portion of the Pass step to see the number of words the student wrote in each retelling. In Read Naturally Encore (the print version), students graph the number of words they wrote in the retelling themselves.  As students move from story to story in a given level, the number of words they write should increase, serving as visible evidence of their progress and motivating them to keep improving.


Nicole Kent [Saline, MI] and Karen Hunter [Read Naturally Director of Curriculum and Professional Development]
If a student writes long retellings that do not provide good summaries of the story, award them 20 points for each good detail in the retelling instead of graphing the number of words a student writes. For example, if a student includes five good details in their retelling, they are awarded 100 points. You can also give students extra points for writing the retelling in complete sentences, for correct use of periods and capitals, for correct spelling, and for using descriptive words.


From Gwen Koehler [Divide, CO]
After passing a story, the student retells it orally while you or an assistant take notes about the student’s progress on an adhesive label. You can then attach the label to the student's folder as a record of the student’s progress in comprehension, sequencing, and recall skills. This approach maximizes limited time and provides useful information for report cards.


Barbara Reed [Hayward, CA]
To make the retelling more challenging for students who are able to retell information well, have them write an organized summary of the story. In Read Naturally Encore (the print version), have them copy the main idea statement from question 1 and then write three statements that support it.

Carol Burchfield [Dalton, GA]
In Read Naturally Encore (the print version), have middle school and older students work on their retelling right after they answer the comprehension questions. This gives older students more independence and helps them make more productive use of the time while they wait for the teacher to listen to them read during the pass timing step.

Note that for Read Naturally Live, the Retell step is automatically presented right after the Quiz step.


From Jean Albrightson [Minneapolis, MN]
To ensure that predictions truly reflect a student's topic knowledge when using the print format of Read Naturally, fold the paper to cover the story so it is not visible as the student writes the prediction. This ensures that students are not pre-reading and copying information from the story. Similarly, during the retell step, fold the paper to hide the questions so that students do not copy ideas from the questions and call them their own.

Note that for Read Naturally Live, students cannot look at their retelling and the story text at the same time, and they cannot cut-and-paste story text into their retelling.

See also: Frequently asked questions

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