While the central charge of School Literacy and Culture is to extrapolate current early education research into classroom practice, we do at times conduct original research as well. The nationally recognized peer-review study highlighted here found that children in storytelling classrooms made greater gains on standardized measures of early literacy than peers in control classrooms.
One Authentic Early Literacy Practice and Three Standardized Tests: Can a Storytelling Curriculum Measure Up?
Patricia M. Cooper (New York University), Karen Capo (Rice University Center for Education), Bernie Mathes (Rice University Center for Education), Lincoln Gray (James Madison University)
Published in Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, Volume 28, Issue 3 (July 2007), pages 251 - 275
The current study was designed to assess the vocabulary and literacy skills of young children who participated in an authentic literacy practice, i.e., Vivian Paley's “storytelling curriculum,” over the course of their respective prekindergarten or kindergarten years. We asked: How do prekindergarten and kindergarten age children, who participate in the storytelling curriculum over the course of the school year, perform on pre- and postmeasures of AGS/Pearson Assessments' Expressive Vocabulary Test (EVT), the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) (3rd ed.) Form IIIA, and Whitehurst's Get Ready to Read!, as compared to those young children in the same grade with similar backgrounds and in the same or similar school settings who did not participate in the storytelling curriculum? Results show that in comparison to same-age children in like settings, participants in the storytelling curriculum showed significant gains in both vocabulary knowledge and literacy skills. These findings underscore the possibility of supporting both beginning and experienced teachers in using authentic literacy activities to prepare children for literacy learning, while maintaining their service to a wide range of other developmental issues. They also call into question the prevailing trend to abandon such classroom practices in favor of a skills-centered approach to curriculum.
Select references on storytelling/story acting and general oral language development*
Cooper, P. (1993). When stories come to school: Telling, writing, and performing stories in the early childhood classroom. New York: Teachers and Writers Collaborative.
Cooper, P. M. (2005). Literacy learning and pedagogical purpose in Viivan Paley’s ‘storytelling curriculum’. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 5(3), 229 – 251.
Cooper, P. (2009). The classrooms all young children need: Lessons in learning from Vivian Paley. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Dickinson, D. K. (2002). Shifting images of developmentally appropriate practice as seen through different lenses. Educational Researcher. 31(1), 26 – 32.
Dickinson, D. K. & Sprague, K. E. (2002). The nature and impact of early childhood care environments on the language and early literacy development of children from low-income families. In S. B. Neuman & D. K. Dickinson (Eds.) Handbook of early literacy research, Vol. 2 (pp. 263-280). New York: Guilford.
Hart, B. and Risley. T. (2003). The early catastrophe: The 30 million word gap by age 3. American Educator, 27(1), 4 – 9.
*Dudley-Marling, C. (2007). Return of the deficit. Journal of Educational Controversy. 2(1), Article 5.
*Fernald, A. and Weisleder, A. (2015). Twenty years after Meaningful Differences, it’s time to reframe the ‘deficit’ debate about the importance of children’s early language experience. Human Development. 58(x), 1 – 4.
*Hirsch-Pasek, K., Adamson, L., Bakerman, R., Owen, M., Golinkoff, R., Pace, A., Yust, P., and Suma, K. The contribution of early communication quality to low-income children’s language success. Psychological Science, 26(7), 1 – 13.
*Ramirez-Esparza, N., Garcia-Sierra, A., and Kuhl, P. Look who’s talking: Speech style and social context in language input to infants are linked to concurrent and future speech development. Developmental Science. 17(6), 880-891.
Paley, V. (1981). Wally’s stories: Conversations in the kindergarten. Cambridge: MA: Harvard University Press.
Paley, V. (1990). The boy who would be a helicopter: The uses of storytelling in the classroom. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
*Paley, V. (2004). A child’s work: The importance of fantasy play. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
*Tabors, P. (2008). One child, two languages: A guide for early childhood educators of children learning English as a second language, 2nd edition. Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.
*Those books or studies identified with asterisk were not referenced in the original study, but may be of interest to the reader.