Paired Storytelling


  • gives students practice with reading comprehension and using prior knowledge to make sense of a text
  • helps with vocabulary development
  • provides opportunities for one-to-one interaction and cooperative learning.

Prep time: 10-15 minutes once story has been selected; longer if you need to type up the story

Prep:  Choose a level-appropriate story. Make copies and cut them in half.  If necessary, type it up in order to create two equal parts.  Decide how students will be paired.  Will you allow them to choose partners themselves or will you assign them?


  1. Introduce the topic of the story you’ve chosen, write the topic on the board, and then ask students what they know about the topic and how it relates to their experiences.  This is intended to activate students’ prior knowledge and get them ready to read the story.  If this brainstorming activity reveals that many students do not have the background necessary to understand the story, be prepared to provide the information at this time.
  2. Make pair assignments or ask students to pair up on their own.  Give the first part to one student in each pair and the second part to the other.
  3. As students read their parts silently, direct them to write the key concepts or phrases in the order in which they appear in the story.  Once they’ve finished their lists, ask the readers to put the stories away, out of sight.
  4. Have students in each pair exchange their lists of key concepts.  Give them time to relate these concepts to the part of the story they’ve just read.  If a student doesn’t understand a word or phrase, he/she asks the partner for clarification.
  5. Now each student develops and writes his or her own account of the story by recalling the part he or she read and using the clues about the other part.  Ask the reader of the first part to try to predict what will happen next and write the second part; have the reader of the second part predict what has taken place in the first part and write it.
  6. Students read their stories to each other when finished.
  7. Hand out the missing part of the story to each student and ask them to read and compare it with their versions. 
  8. Conclude the lesson with a discussion of the entire story with the whole group.
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