Story retelling in emergent literacy

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Prenevost, Sharon Olive
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Education
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education, 1995
The purpose of this study was to explore the value of story retelling as a wholistic and natural approach to literacy learning in a Grade One classroom. Brown and Cambourne (1987) developed story retelling as a strategy to improve reading comprehension, and writing. The strategy is implemented as follows. After being immersed in a literary genre such as the folktale, the children share what they know in making predictions about the text and vocabulary used in an unfamiliar story within the genre. The children read or hear the story several times, confirming and refining their predictions, and then they write or dictate a paraphrasing of the story without referring back to a copy of the text. The children then share and compare their retellings with others and with the original text. I explored the potential of story retelling as a language learning strategy through an action research project in my Grade One classroom. The premise of action research for this project was a commitment to improved practice through action, informed by an increased awareness of what actually happened in the classroom as the children were engaged in retelling. I worked through two action research cycles of three weeks each as modelled in The Action Research Planner (Kemmis & McTaggart, 1981). The fundamental aspects of an action research cycle include- developing a flexible and forwarding looking plan, acting to implement the plan, observing the effects of the action, and reflecting upon the effects of the action as a basis for the planning of the next cycle. In the first cycle, my plan of action was to have the children read, write and share in pairs of developmentally mature/delayed readers, same gender, and mixed gender. The children advanced to individual retellings as their expertise grew through the first cycle and into the second cycle of the plan. This was a modification of story retelling developed by Brown & Cambourne in Read and Retell (1987) because the children with whom the authors worked were considerably more mature than the six and seven year olds in my Grade One classroom. Through the retellings, the children demonstrated their comprehension of the story in personal ways. I read and heard a synthesis or re-creation of the original story with a sequencing of events, an attention to main ideas and details, an attempt at inferencing, and a sensitivity to style and form. Often the child's voice was evident in the retelling as well. In the reflective pause between the two action research cycles I had time to consider my journal entries and I did additional readings from the literature to inform the revised plan. As I revised the retelling strategy in the second cycle of the study, it became clear that children in the Grade One class were beginning to internalize reading and writing processes. And as they became increasingly familiar with the forms and conventions of written communication, they were edging ever closer to a point where they were more fully engaged in 'pulling up from their linguistic guts all that they know about oral language in order to understand and learn written language' (Halliday, 1986 cited in Brown & Cambourne, 1987, p.27). vi
xii, 172 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Brown, Hazel, 1943- Read and retell , English language -- Writing -- Study and teaching (Elementary) , Reading (Elementary) -- Language experience approach , Language arts (Elementary)