English Support Materials

English snapshot: Telling a story

English/Literacy/Interacting with others

Content DescriptionRelevant aspects of the Achievement Standards

Listen to and respond orally to texts and to the communication of others in informal and structured classroom situations
(ACELY 1646)

Create short texts to explore, record and report ideas and events using familiar words and beginning writing knowledge
(ACELY 1651)

In informal group and whole class settings, students communicate clearly. They retell events and experiences with peers and known adults.

Nature of the assessment

Teacher-devised task and teacher observation

Purposes of the assessment

  • obtain information about students’ relative strengths and weaknesses when speaking, focusing on the way they structure sentences and phrases and their vocabulary
  • gain insights into the particular skills of different ability groups.

Stage in the Teaching sequence

Start of a series of lessons of lessons to ascertain the spread of ability in the class.

Assessment process

The teacher selected three students that she felt roughly represented the range of ability in the class (low, middle and high ability). She worked individually with each student and gave them a wordless picture book to page through. After they had time to look through the pictures she asked them to use the pictures to tell a story. She encouraged them to make the story as long as they could.

The teacher recorded the students as they told their stories.


The teacher reviewed the performances paying close attention to their oral language skills.

She noted that the lower ability student:

  • had fairly clear pronunciation
  • briefly stated what was in each picture
  • mostly used incomplete sentences
  • used a small range of common words
  • used very few adjectives and did not try to elaborate on ideas
  • used the present tense throughout, and
  • made no attempt to link ideas across sentences.

She noted that the middle ability student:

  • used longer sentences and in most instances used and then to link ideas
  • used several less common words such as beehive, yelling, and tiptoed
  • attempted to use some descriptive words such as splat, buzzing, and
  • used the past tense throughout.

She noted that the higher ability student:

  • started her story with Once upon a time and used some dialogue to carry the story
  • used a range of simple, compound and complex sentences
  • used some descriptive words such as scratching, hollow, stink, smashed
  • used a small range of conjunctions (such as while, but, so) to explain the relationship of ideas, and used the adverb next as well as then to sequence ideas, and
  • used the past tense when telling the story and changed to the present tense for dialogue. She observed there were some errors in the student’s use of the past tense (e.g. holded a branch, he was disappeared).

Using the information

Having observed these three students very closely, the teacher made more informal observations of all her students speaking during class activities.

Based on these observations she devised a series of lessons to teach students to use different sentence beginnings, to use the past tense when telling a story, to add adjectives to expand noun phrases and to use simple conjunctions to show the relationship between ideas. She also planned activities to teach new vocabulary.

Some of these lessons were whole class activities, whereas others targeted the specific needs of the different ability groups she had identified in the class. The teacher gave particular attention to how she could extend the more able students and decided to introduce them to ways they could expand their stories by developing the plot of the story and by describing characters and setting.