will retell the story in a song by determining the important
details given in both text and illustrations.
is a group of students who are struggling in the area of
comprehension they often cannot identify what the important
parts of a story are nor are concise in their attempted retell.
Writing a song as a class and focusing on both the important
details and the need to be concise and "singable",
will give much needed practice.
Classroom set-up- Students will sit on carpet
area as large group
pictures and text while reading “The Mouse and the Lion”. Have
student use descriptive words to describe what is occurring in the
illustration. After the reading have the students web the story
noting main characters, setting, and retell. Leave the web where
students can see it.
Introduce the idea
of writing a song that would tell the story.
The song needs to include only the most important details
while at the same time setting the mood for the story. Remind them
of the poem patterns that we studied several weeks ago. Explaining
that we will be using an ABCB pattern for the first stanza of our
song and a DEFE pattern for the second stanza and so on.
The first stanza is
going to reflect the first fact of the story retell which was, the
mouse found the sleeping lion. Suggest the first line be, “ Once
there was a courageous mouse who found a sleeping lion.” Have
students suggest details
that should also be included in the first stanza that tell about
the mouse finding the lion. Once all of the details have been
suggested ask for suggestions for the next 3 lines. Sing the first
line several times to help them hear the rhythm and tempo of the
Depending on time
repeat the directions for the next 4 stanzas over the course of
Type song up
into a book with each stanza on one page. Give a copy to
each student and let them illustrate their songbook.
and perform song.
students retell the story verbally
checking for their comprehension and correct use of
important details. This will be done several days after the song
is completed and has been sung.
This lesson was an eye opener for me. I enjoy teaching
poetry and always shirk from singing in front of anyone. After
reading the article, The Uses of Folk Music and Songwriting in the
Classroom,” by Victor Cockburn (1991) I was eager to try writing
a song with my students. This particular group of students are all
below grade level in reading. The school I teach at has a manual
driven Direct Instruction model for teaching reading and these are
students who are suffering from its lack of flexibility and
many of them this is the third time they’ve read this set of
books using the same structured instruction. Needless to say they
had a lot of fun trying this new approach to thinking about what
they had read. I definitely had students who were more actively
participating and eager than others. But the ones who did not
openly participate often were the ones who do participate in other
ways. The energy level of the room went way up and a couple of
kids had to take a time out at their seats. The activity
definitely took a lot of guidance from me but the ideas that were
being shared were great. Students were commenting on whether or
not student suggestions had actually occurred,
were important or interesting details, and whether the suggested
line fit the rhythm of the song. This is a distractible group of
kids who are often off task. This lesson even with moments of down
time while I wrote had them whispering, shouting, and singing
The evaluation was
very interesting. The students who had most actively helped
write the song really retained more information overall than the
rest of the students. Two
of the 7 who were most active are my lowest readers. The rest
definitely had retained more details than usual and all had the 4
main points of the story retell down.
I plan on doing this type of retell again. Instead of doing
2 stanzas a day however, I will only do 1 a day over 4 days to
avoid to much carpet time. As well I would like to combine the
song with a pantomime play of the story for the Kindergarten