Today I put Farmyard Beat into the retelling center- asking the children at that center to act out the story using the barn and the animals. I modeled what I expected and then set them loose.
I occasionally heard one of the girls tell the other girl not to play, and by the end of reading workshop I could hear a bit of non-retelling behavior. Yet when we gathered back on the rug as a class for share time my skepticism of their behavior vanished.
I started by asking them specific questions about the story- out of order- "What happened last?" and they were able to tell me, without prompting, using detailed, specific language. Because they'd acted it out they had a much firmer grasp of what happened in the story.
They were answering questions that were beyond their specific goals and objectives and showing me a true understanding of the story- hooray for comprehension through play!