Storytelling Strategy

    This month, I would like to explain one strategy our teachers use with our students from early childhood to fifth grade, Telling a Story Across Five Fingers. This strategy comes from the writing workshop approach developed by Lucy Calkins at Columbia Teacher College. It helps children to sequence and visualize a story, two important skills for comprehension. I find this strategy to be so effective because it can be used with pre-school to middle school students. With younger students, we may read aloud a story and then ask students to re-tell the story, using the five fingers of our hands (from pinky to thumb) to sequence what came first, then, next, after that, and finally. After students are given multiple opportunities to retell familiar stories, they can begin to tell their own stories using their five fingers to help them visualize and remember the sequence.

    Tell Your Story Across Your Fingers

    1. First…
    2. Next…
    3. Then…
    4. After That…
    5. Finally…

     In Kindergarten and First Grade, students begin the writing process by orally Telling a Story Across Five Fingers to their partner and then begin to compose their stories on paper. As students grow, their writing develops, becoming more detailed and intricate. The Five Finger approach grows with the writer, allowing for elaboration. Instead of “first, then, next, after that, finally,” the fingers become: “characters, setting, beginning, middle, end.” With older elementary students the five fingers can help structure a paragraph with the fingers being: the topic sentence, supporting evidence 1, supporting evidence 2, supporting evidence 3, conclusion. Telling a Story Across Five Fingers can be adapted for both fiction and informational writing. It also can be easily transferred to the Freytag Pyramid, a more sophisticated strategy for understanding the plot structure of a novel. In the Freytag model, the structure is a triangle: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement.

    FREYTAG PYRAMID

    story pyramid

     

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