Program Feature: Stories as Standards

“After I started taking dictation, I realized that I had never before really listened to the children as they participated in reading and writing activities because I had known all the answers.”                                          —Patsy Cooper, When Stories Come to School

In an educational world driven by dictums and fueled by data, it is invigorating to discover an instructional model that challenges teachers to ask questions as frequently as they introduce answers. Based upon the work of Vivian Paley and Patsy Cooper, Rice University’s “Classroom Storytelling” approach does just that. Teachers learn to listen intently to children and develop questioning strategies that clarify and extend children’s thinking. They gain practical expertise in individualizing instruction and planning for intentional educational experiences that makes sense to young children. In short, they learn to use children’s own dictated stories as the very foundation of early reading and writing instruction.

How does this happen? Teachers read current research in the field, discuss it with peers and ask questions as to what constitutes best practice in early literacy instruction. They engage in professional learning community discussions and visit each other’s classrooms to develop deeper understandings of various educational approaches. Along the way they come to see that it is possible to facilitate such overarching domains as oral language, comprehension and narrative development while introducing discrete skills including capitalization, punctuation and phonics instruction within contexts that are meaningful to 3, 6 and 8 year olds.

Classroom Storytelling validates the power of professional curiosity and utilizes it as a springboard to instilling those same habits of mind in children who become intellectually curious, active problem solvers. Join us at Rice University’s School Literacy and Culture program as we investigate not only the science of education, but the art and soul of it as well.

Karen Capo and Margaret Immel, directors of Rice University’s School Literacy and Culture, will present this year’s first Research into Practice session on Tuesday, October 14 from 5:30 -7:00pm. “Stories as Standards” will provide an interactive platform in which teachers investigate the divide between some traditional reading and writing instruction and learning that makes sense to children. Participants will learn about the research basis for story dictation and dramatization including an award winning efficacy study, explore standards correlations for prekindergarten and first grade classroom, and code video samples to discover the breadth of balanced literacy skills addressed in a single storytelling segment. Most importantly, participants will see how children’s own stories can be used to simultaneously address broad-ranging cognitive goals and meaningful skills instruction while also promoting socio-emotional development.

For more information, visit our website.

Authored by Karen Capo, Rice University School Literacy and Culture
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1 Response to Program Feature: Stories as Standards

  1. Marie Pousson says:

    I so love the process of taking dictation of student authored stories. Listening to their voices is powerful, and a great way to tailor instruction for each child, while their literacy development takes center stage.


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