Five Finger Retell Reading Strategy

Instructor: Shannon Orr
This lesson defines the Five Finger Retell Reading Strategy. It also describes each part of the strategy and shows teachers how to introduce it to their students.

What Should You Do?

You are so proud of your students. They have just finished reading their very first chapter book. You make sure to tell them how delighted you are with this great accomplishment and explain to them that they should also be very proud of themselves as well! The room is full of smiling students and then suddenly like a balloon being burst in the sky, you take all of that away by saying you want them to write a summary of what they just read. Your once happy students are now saying, 'Is he kidding? Doesn't he know how long that book was?' They do have a point. There is no way they can summarize all that reading, is there?

Five Finger Retell Reading Strategy

Of course there is! You open your hand and say, 'It is easy as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.' Now they remember; you want them you to use the Five Finger Retell Reading Strategy. The Five Finger Retell Reading Strategy is designed to help students recall the five key elements of a story. The five key elements of a story are the setting, characters, problems, events, and solution. When a reader can recall these five key elements, he or she should be able to successfully summarize most stories.

How Is It Done?

In order to learn the Five Finger Retell Reading Strategy students can use either their hand or a drawing of a hand. The students have to be taught that each finger represents a different element.

  • The first finger, or thumb, represents the setting. The setting is the place or places where the story happens. Some stories only have one setting and others have more than one.
  • The second finger, or pointer finger, represents the characters. The characters are the people or animals in a story. Like the setting, there can be one character or several characters. Usually in a story there is a main character that the story is focused around.
  • The third finger, or middle finger, represents the problem. The problem, or conflict, in the story is what is wrong. The problem can be something that the character is going through within him- or herself, a problem the character is having with another character in the story, or a problem the character is having with nature, like a natural disaster.
  • The fourth finger, or ring finger, represents the events in the story. The events are the things that happen in the story that tell how the character is working through his or her problem.
  • The fifth finger, or pinkie finger, represents the solution. The solution, or conclusion, tells how the story ends. The conclusion is how the character solves his or her problem.

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