At my school, “narrations” are a big part of our days. As the blog above states, narration is conducted after reading a text once and allowing the child to tell what happened in his/her own words, making any connections and sharing his/her opinions. Teachers do not interrupt the students, but instead allow other students to share any “additions” or “corrections.” I love how narrations focus on what the child remembers. If the child does not remember what happened first, but remembers something that occurs later, they have the freedom, and are encouraged, to share it.
I went to a conference last spring where we practiced the art of narrating. However, at this conference, the speaker had us narrate using as much of the author’s language as we could recall. After we narrated, we discussed the passages. As the conference went on, I found myself becoming more comfortable with narrating and discovered that narrating passages enabled me to retain what we had read even after several days.
Coming back to my school from the conference, I began doing a lot more narrating with my students. I was impressed at how easily this came to them. They had done narrations in first and second grade, but I hadn’t done narrations in the way I had been taught at the conference. Thankfully, the training my students had received when they were younger had stuck. They were able to narrate back the stories we read with an incredible amount of detail while also putting the text into their own words and making connections. As I conducted narrations, I did not require them to raise their hands. This was a bit shocking for them, but I loved watching how they grew in listening to each other, making sure they added on when a classmate had finished speaking, and if correcting, doing so in a respectful manner. I also noticed that my students’ retention of texts grew as we discussed and answered questions about the text after narrating.
I’ve continued to do narrations like this with my students this year, and have found it to be a wonderful informal assessment tool. While I know which students are able to narrate easily, and which students it is more challenging for, I wanted to have concrete evidence to show administration and parents. I had my students conduct a narration on Seesaw and have recently shared it with the parents. Here is one of my students narrations. As you can see, this child stumbles a bit, but he gets through the narration. However, his narration more closely resembles text. Click here to listen to an example of a narration where a child retells the story in her own words. another one where a child retells the story in her own words. What you don’t see in these narrations, is the connections piece. This lends itself better to some stories than others, and more often occurs when we conduct narrations as a class as opposed to individually.
Not only have I conducted narrations with reading, but I have used narrations in every subject. For example, in math, after I teach an objective, I’ll have the students “narrate back” to each other what they just learned, demonstrating on their individual white boards. I love how narrations are disciplinary in nature, and while focusing on literacy skills, it also encourages social skills. The students learn the importance of community as they begin to appreciate what their classmates add to make the narration more complete. It truly is a wonderful assessment tool!