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Collin’s Story: The Cut-up Story

Cutting up a story and having a child reassemble it is a daily part of a Reading Recovery® lesson. I think that this is a powerful teaching tool and I like to use it with any child I work with. Children can learn so much from this activity. The cut-up story provides children with an opportunity to relate reading to writing, writing to speaking and reading to speaking. And although it is not as effective as when you use it with an individual, it can also easily be adapted to use in a small group setting.

Each time that I work with Collin we do some writing. After he writes his story (which is honestly more like a sentence!), I write his ‘story’ on a sentence strip. Then he reads it while I cut it. You can see that here.

After he reads his story, I mix up the words, making sure all the words are turned so that he can easily read them. Next, Collin puts the story back together. You can watch him do that part of the lesson below. Children that are struggling and know only a very small number of words or sounds can still complete this task. It helps teach one-to-one matching, directional behavior, and some early self-monitoring and correcting behavior. I am amazed at how quickly Collin can do this task now!

The cut-up story can also be used to help children learn how to put their words together in phrases. You can put the story together in different ways and ask the child to read it. Since I am working with Collin on becoming more phrased and fluent with his reading, using his cut-up story this way becomes a great opportunity to do more teaching. Watch here and see what you think!

Michèle Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers (Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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