I’m increasingly cognizant of what types of strategies I am using to help students monitor their comprehension and analyze fiction text. Each year, I get a different group of students that require something slightly different than the last group and this year was no different. I’ve been using a Freytag model with students for years off and on. Sometimes, I use it as a small group strategy and other times I use it throughout the year as a part of my whole group instruction.
Freytag’s Model isn’t really a new structure. It’s actually pretty old. So many of the fiction texts students are reading can work with this model, so it makes it an easy tool to implement. I have an anchor chart that I refer to with the model on it as I am teaching all the time. It’s great to use as a scaffold for retelling! I also love it as a support tool to help students monitor their comprehension throughout a fiction text too!
How to implement
The first step is always to model your own thinking for the students while reading a text. This is a hugely important step. You are always the best reader in the room! Don’t forget that! When you model your thinking for the students? They are getting the BEST type of approach for the texts you’re evaluating in class.
Next, gradually release students to increased independence. Model how to determine the first three steps of the model with one text, and then give students a different text to do the EXACT SAME process with a peer. Whenever you’re releasing students to partner practice or independent work, make sure that whatever you modeled is what you expect to see. That will cut down on confusion and student frustration in a big way.
I teach third grade and for my bunch, we did this activity in partners most often. Older students would benefit from being released to do this independently.
The model has several different parts. Once I’ve taught the model and its parts, I often go deeper into the different structures present in fiction texts, most notably–cause and effect. This is a HUGELY important recognition for any third grader and before they finish the year? They need to be able to sniff those relationships out like little bloodhounds!
Another way that I used this structure this year was to partner students in order to retell different fiction texts. Over the course of a few days, I had them read, write and reflect on a text of their choosing with their partner. For their project, they wrote out their thinking in a Freytag Model. Each team of two had the opportunity to share their retelling and listen to the retelling of other students in a round robin style called a jigsaw. You can read more about that in my free download HERE.
This type of activity can easily be modified for older students just by increasing the level of texts the students are reading. This is a great way to get 100% engagement in a text based writing activity. After using this type of a structure for fiction texts, it made me start looking for a structured system to approach non-fiction text! As a teacher of littles, we’ve got to always be looking for new opportunities to learn new ways to teach ‘old things’. The more tools you have in your toolbox the more prepared you start to feel to help any learner that crosses the threshold to your classroom. I hope you’ll try out a Freytag model lesson in your classroom this school year!
Click on the image above to download a small group anchor chart of the Freytag’s Model for your classroom!