Helping your students to capture knowledge while reading is NOT easy! We hear about modeling, think aloud, direct instruction but what do our students need? They need to see the structure of the text so they can help make sense of it.
Without YOUR skeleton your body would have no shape and would not function. We have to help students see how an author creates the text by writing it with a structure.
Students interact with fiction at an early age but when do we begin instructing them on how all fiction stories are organized? The basic structure of any fiction story contains the five elements: characters, setting, problem, solution and the mood. When I begin teaching children about fiction we will refer to the 5 basic elements as the BIG FIVE. I use my hand because as I hold it up each time and refer to the elements–the students are “creating” a map in their mind of the structure of fictional text.
Begin reading stories with basic story structure (singular story problem or plot line) to begin modeling for students. While reading, stop after several pages, hold your hand up and go through each element while pointing to the corresponding finger which helps students begin to create connections. If a student can identify each element, then they do understand the story on a basic level.
The next step, have students begin retelling the story using the BIG FIVE following this basic outline:
The story is about __________________ (Character) who is at ___________________ (Setting). He/She wanted to _____________________________ but _____________________(problem). So, he/she _____________________________ (Solution). When _____________________ happened he/she felt ____________________.
You will notice the outline is very similar to the strategy “Somebody Wanted But So Then.” (MacOn, Bewell & Vogt, 1991) This is a great retelling strategy because it follows the basic elements of fictional text.