DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET Beyond the Flannel Board STORY-RETELLING STRATEGIES ACROSS THE CURRICULUM COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET Beyond the Flannel Board COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET Beyond the Flannel Board STORY-RETELLING STRATEGIES ACROSS THE CURRICULUM M. Susan M c Williams COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET Published by Redleaf Press 10 Yorkton Court St. Paul, MN 55117 © 2017 by M. Susan McWilliams All rights reserved. Unless otherwise noted on a specific page, no portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or capturing on any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a critical article or review to be printed in a magazine or newspaper, or electronically transmitted on radio, television, or the Internet. First edition 2017 Cover design by Tilt Design/Amy Fastenau Cover photographs by / Image Source (top), DIOMEDIA / Blend RF / Ariel Skelley (left), / antares71 (center), / Charles Schmidt (right) Interior design by Mayfly Design Typeset in the Minion, Whitney, Adoquin, and Sketchetik typefaces. Interior photographs by the author Printed in the United States of America 24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: McWilliams, M. Susan, author. Title: Beyond the flannel board : story retelling strategies across the     curriculum / M. Susan McWilliams. Description: First edition. | St. Paul, MN : Redleaf Press, 2017. | Includes     bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2016047571 (print) | LCCN 2017007024 (ebook) | ISBN     9781605544861 (paperback : alk. paper) | ISBN 9781605544878 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Storytelling in education. | Storytelling ability in     children. | Early childhood education. | BISAC: EDUCATION / Curricula. |     EDUCATION / Teaching Methods & Materials / General. | EDUCATION /     Preschool & Kindergarten. | EDUCATION / Teaching Methods & Materials /     Reading & Phonics. Classification: LCC LB1042 .M37 2017 (print) | LCC LB1042 (ebook) | DDC     372.67/7—dc23 LC record available at Printed on acid-free paper. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET For Steve COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET Contents Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix Introduction: Making Stories “Real” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xi Part 1: Story Retelling: A Developmental Perspective Chapter 1: Story Retelling with Young Children . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Chapter 2: Retelling Stories with Language and Understanding. . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Chapter 3: Planning Read-Alouds for Effective Story Retelling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Chapter 4: Designing Story-Retelling Experiences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Part 2: Weaving Story Retelling into the Curriculum Chapter 5: Building Social and Emotional Concepts with Story Retelling. . . . . 53 Chapter 6: Supporting Children’s STEM Inquiries through Story Retelling . . 77 Chapter 7: Making Number Sense with Story Retelling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103 Chapter 8: Documenting and Assessing Young Children’s Learning . . . . . . . . . 121 Afterword: Hearing the Voice of the Storyteller . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 139 Recommended Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141 Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157 Story-Retelling Forms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175 Children’s Books Referenced in the Text . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 181 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL     vii DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET Acknowledgments Stories were always part of my life. I grew up in a family that at times gathered on the front porch of my great-grandfather’s old home on steeping-hot Louisi- ana evenings. My brother and I played quietly in the grass while the old folks spun yarns and wove stories I’d never heard before or since. I remember the joy and comfort in knowing those family stories were my stories, in staying up late, being quiet with my brother (we were never quiet), hoping no one noticed that it was dark and well past bedtime, hoping no one noticed us at all—just listen- ing and pretending to play and being invisible. It was pure magic. Recently I realized that I’m still catching stories when they appear in my path. Although they are not old family stories, I’m still quietly making myself invisible and listening to stories. As a university supervisor in preschool and kindergarten classrooms, I listen to stories, hear interactions, observe story re- telling, and realize that I am one lucky person. I often see young children visibly transformed at the mere presence of a book. I also realize that I have a lot of people to thank for helping me get to this place. Dr. Sarah Edwards, Associate Dean David Conway, and Dean Nancy Edick were the first to see my proposal for this book. Their votes of confidence in granting a sabbatical leave propelled the project beyond an idea and into some- thing tangible. Dr. Edwards’s continued encouragement and support were piv- otal when I returned to teaching while still engaged in writing. The Omaha Family Literacy Partnership influenced this book greatly. This community-based organization promotes the joy of reading to young children and their families by hosting book distributions and author/illustrator events (made possible by the University of Nebraska–Omaha [UNO] College of Edu- cation, the UNO Office of Service Learning, First Book Foundation, Mrs. Carol Gendler, and others). This work informed my learning and my views on the creative potential held within a children’s book. I’ve always loved books published by Redleaf Press. I pored through their books at conferences, used them as textbooks in my courses, and referenced them in my writing. After this writing experience, I now know Redleaf Press as not only beautiful “on the cover” but just as fabulous inside. Laurie Herrmann patiently extracted the remaining chapters from me while I was teaching full- time. Danny Miller and Alyssa Lochner edited this book with expertise and respectfulness. Thank you, Alyssa and Danny. I send special thanks to the extraordinary Isabel Baker, who writes about high-quality, worthwhile children’s literature in her regular column “The Read- ing Chair” for NAEYC’s Young Children journal. She visits Omaha annually COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL     ix DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET x    Acknowledgments (thanks to Jennifer Haggart’s vision and resources) to update us on using high-quality children’s literature with “rich words.” Special thanks also to a great story-retelling team of early childhood master educators who graciously presented at an early literacy conference with me in fall of 2014: Jean Hearn, Loretta Novotny, Molly Moran, and Paula Szczepaniak. This book could not have been possible without the help of many teach- ers, children, parents, and teacher candidates. Both preschool sites involved in this project provided me with access to observe and photograph teachers and children as they played with stories and conducted story enactments and retellings. They allowed me to place books, finger puppets, and other props into the classroom and to work with the children. I want to thank Jane Allen, director of Hamilton Heights Child Development Center (CDC), for providing me with access to her site. I greatly appreciate Eliza Reker, preschool teacher at Hamilton Heights CDC, as well as parents and children who participated in this project. Similarly, sincerest thanks go to Julie Oelke, District 66 Early Childhood Center (ECC) program director, and to Carly Mathews, director of Oakdale ECC, for providing me with site access. I appreciate Oakdale ECC parents and children who participated in the project. Warmest thanks go to Oakdale ECC educators who gave me permission to become their “very own paparazzi” in their classrooms: Nicole Borchardt, Jacquelyn Harper, Stacey Hussey, Kathy Holdsworth, Carly Mathews, Cecilia Q. Petersson, Courtney Sprague, and Kasey Wurst. Lastly, I thank the following UNO teacher candi- dates for permission to use photographs of their work: Dawn Adams, Saman- tha Boyle, Melinda Brewer, Brennan Chandler, Bailey B. Corcoran, Alyssa Dail, Linzee Gammell, Rebecca Hansen, Brittan Haynes, Abigail Jorgensen, Alexis Labenz, Claudia Magana-Magana, Sarah Miller, Shelby Soukup, Amber Stark, Keli O’Brien, Whitney Taylor, and Tiana Wilson. Finally, I end with thanking my family. Bill and Billy Lewis raised me on family stories and silly poems and reading aloud before I learned to read—at about the same time that Dolores Durkin was gathering data for her first-grade studies—amazing parents! I thank my dear husband, Steve, who, as a result of this project, is now a great cook and an ace at housecleaning. He cheered me on throughout and remains a very patient person to this day. Thanks to Sarah, John, and Maureen McWilliams for their listening when I’d share project thoughts for the trillionth time. Last but not least, I am blessed with a precious grandchild, Maggie, who was between the ages of three and five when I wrote this book. I had an incredible view of the world and its stories through her eyes, and as a result, I now know that when catastrophe strikes (such as in the case of Goldilocks falling off her bed before the bears arrive), one should simply “pretend that didn’t happen.” COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET Introduction Making Stories “Real” “Don’t you remember? . . .” I do remember . . . only Pooh doesn’t very well, so that’s why he likes having it told to him again. Because then it’s a real story and not just a remembering. —A. A. Milne (1996, 18) What is a real story? How might stories come alive and become real for young children? Telling a story requires us to understand and to communicate our perceptions of the story. If we acquire a deep understanding of the plot, charac- ters, setting, problems, solutions, and meanings of new vocabulary words, we can better communicate the story to others. We make the story “real” to our audiences when we add voices, facial expressions, props, and meaning to the retelling. In this book, we’ll embark on a journey in teaching young children the art of story retelling. One child pretends to read a story—a version of story retelling—about Winnie-the-Pooh while another pauses to listen. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL     xi DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET xii    Introduction The focus of this book is on designing effective and developmentally ap- propriate teaching strategies for literature-based story retelling with young children. On the one hand, the term retelling is defined just as the term im- plies: telling a story again. Since telling is expressed in many ways, this book includes play and the creative arts as modes of communication. Participating in acting out a story with a group is a retelling technique. When a preschooler (who is not able to read) pretends to read a book to another person, the pre- tend reading serves as story retelling. Stories can be sung, danced, drawn, acted out, played, pretended, and more. For the purpose of this book, the term story retelling expands beyond the teacher’s flannel board to include the many ways literature-based stories are told and retold by children and their teachers alike. On the other hand, story retelling as a teaching strategy is a loaded term because it necessitates planning, implementing, and assessing to support suc- cessful retelling experiences with young children. Further complicating the re- telling definition is the awareness that story retelling manifests itself in different ways depending on the age, grade, and developmental level of the child. As a result, the term can often be misinterpreted when implemented in classrooms. This book is designed to demystify the story-retelling experience with young children by tearing the term down into its essential components and benefits, then building it back up again by delineating how story retelling works best in preschool classrooms. Story retelling as an essential teaching strategy helps teachers understand how young children develop language and literacy skills. Admittedly, teachers of young children in early childhood settings have long created environments that supported story experiences regardless of their teaching philosophies or approaches. Story props and themes related to books are typically woven into multiple centers. A house or grocery store center might include a toy caterpillar to eat through pretend food, a science center may contain a chrysalis and non- fiction books about caterpillars, and the library center might feature The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (1997) along with puppets to help children recall, reinvent, and put themselves into the story. Similarly, the flannel board held cutout bears and pigs and other book characters ready for the teacher to use in large-group storytime. What changed in early childhood settings in recent years is our movement beyond the flannel board into the world of maximizing children’s literature to its fullest potential across the curriculum. In the process, we develop a culture of story lovers as we wonder and play and learn. In contrast to the time when preschool and kindergarten teachers were the keepers of stories and flannel boards, we now empower children as story retellers, to support effective liter- acy learning. Our understandings of the benefits of story retelling have evolved. By respecting children’s developmental learning styles and pacing, teachers can effectively present story retelling to children in ways that make a huge impact on their learning—including their vocabulary development. Focusing on how story retelling is implemented in the early childhood classroom offers many rewards to teachers of young children. Children’s back- grounds in language and literacy, story and storytelling, self-regulation and COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET Introduction  interest, listening skills and engagement, and culture and home experiences all affect how we approach story retelling with young children. Observing and documenting children’s expressions of understanding and connections to story through retelling offer data for teachers to analyze growth. This book addresses the complexity of designing developmentally appropriate strategies for young children. What are developmentally appropriate story-retelling strategies for young children? How do we offer play with learning and curriculum? While help- ing children become successful in story retelling and reenacting, how might teachers protect and nurture the joy and wonder of children and their picture books? This book offers insight into links between how children learn and how to support the development of story-retelling skills. This book is organized into two parts. Part 1 outlines why we do story retelling with children. It reveals key concepts, benefits, effective teaching strat- egies, and a framework for developmentally based work with young children. In part 2, you will learn how to implement story retelling with preschoolers as they develop skills in the content areas. The chapters focus on how story retelling affects social-emotional growth, how it supports STEM development, how it can foster deeper understandings of numbers through enactments and retellings, and how assessment can best be used to collect and analyze data. Beyond the Flannel Board: Story-Retelling Strategies across the Curriculum is written in the spirit of fostering wonder, joy, and exploration of story among children and teachers. My hope is to help teachers successfully implement effective teaching strategies that nurture children’s vocabulary, learning dis- positions, and experiences with story retelling. Above all, may story retelling nurture a love of story and joyful interactions—fuel for developing passionate, inquisitive readers. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL   xiii DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET Part 1 Story Retelling: A Developmental Perspective B ill Martin Jr., author of more than three hundred books for children of all ages, had an idea strike him while riding on a train—so he took out a pen and paper and wrote Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? in just fifteen minutes. After seeing a poster made by Eric Carle (who was a graphic designer at the time), Martin asked Carle to illustrate the poem as a children’s book. Carle completed the illustra- tions for the book (his first) in one weekend! I’ve experienced this beloved story in read-alouds to young children quite fre- quently in my work in preschool and kindergarten classrooms. It’s a popular story, and children listen to it again and again. Recently I came very close to asking a uni- versity student (who created elaborate plans) to find another story and delay her read-aloud because I worried that the story was overused. Instead, I chose not to say anything. After all, she put a lot of work into the project and it might be a better learning experience if she found out for herself that this story was used too often with children. You likely know what happened. At yet another read-aloud, I sat there invisibly (as a university supervisor in a preschool) and marveled over the synergy formed when a good teacher, children, and this story are put together. When inter- viewed by Reading Rockets in 1996 about writing for children, Martin said, “I sup- pose the satisfaction of writing is that it deals with the chaos of the world and gives it order. And that’s all a paragraph does. That’s all a story does.” When we prepare for story retelling with young children, we “give it order” by organizing the story so children grasp components; vocabulary so children under- stand; read-alouds so children engage; and props, visual aids, and storyboards so children are supported. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET Story Retelling with Young Children 1 S tories are retold just about everywhere. Stories are kept in books, and they come alive when read and shared. Stories are also found in stained glass windows at religious services, in works of art at museums, in totem poles, and in the buffalo hides at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC. A compelling story of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz’s pre- Holocaust childhood and subsequent survival was told through her thirty-six embroidered panels, which eventually became a traveling exhibit and book for older students (Krinitz and Steinhardt 2010). It is hypothesized that storytelling was linked to drawings on caves, rocks, and cliffs from times long ago. Stories are expressed through dance, music, movement, art, and drama. Stories are captured in nature when one discovers a beehive in a tree or a decomposed hydrangea on a bush or a chrysalis on a milkweed leaf. Stories are dramatic! They may be artistic, musical, or full of movement. They make us agonize and celebrate, tremor inside and laugh out loud, worry to pieces and sing for joy. Stories are meant to be told; the “telling again” is in the connection between not only the teller and listener but also the dreamer (author and illustrator) and the dream (the story). Stories link us to history and culture. These characteristics of story are central to our read- aloud practices, interactive readings, and other literature-related experiences in classrooms. Literature-based story retelling is a form of storytelling (Morrow 1996). In the early childhood years, creating a picture often is a le- gitimate way to share a story or an event. In many aspects of our own lives, we essentially recall, recount, or retell, whether it is through sharing with a friend about a recipe or revealing a few Art and literacy intersect when children cre- ate images representing literacy-based and episodes from a favorite book. At base level, story retelling is fo- original stories. This teacher made photocop- cused on what happens when readers or listeners retell a story af- ies of the characters on card stock, cut them ter hearing or reading it. Story retelling can be quite demanding out and laminated them, glued the characters of young children, but when it is taught with their development onto extra-large tongue depressors, and in mind, it becomes fun, joyful, and very educational. Whether placed them in the class puppet theater with retelling is as simple as using facial and/or vocal expressions or a copy of the book. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 3 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET 4     Chapter 1 as complex as a stage set with costumes, retelling stories with young children is a combination of teacher planning and support, children’s emerging and de- veloping skills, and employing the arts in some manner. Story retelling is not simple. It is more than recalling a story or even “a remembering.” In essence, story retelling with young children is a two-part process: (1) what children do when they retell stories, and (2) what teachers do to facilitate competency and support children’s developmental growth in both story- retelling skills and concepts. A view of what story retelling is and is not may further unpack the concept of story retelling in educational settings. What Is Story Retelling? Story retelling is, simply, telling a story again in one’s own words. It is an over- arching term to represent multiple modes of retelling: pretend reading, story acting, story singing, story dancing, miming, and so on. Story retelling is a complex task, especially for young children. To begin with, the reteller must develop a deep understanding of the story. The teller must transcend the level of simply having factual knowledge of a specific story to a level of applying the knowledge in the retelling. Finally, story retelling requires the teller to share the story in an engaging or dramatic way, capturing the spirit or essence of the story in the process. Teachers model story retelling and scaffold children’s un- derstanding and expressive language skills. They plan and interact with stories to develop children’s understandings of meaning and the important events (or plot) in the story over time. They facilitate understanding of the story and teach literary elements, vocabulary, and comprehension. Teachers are story retellers themselves. Story retelling is not memorizing, although we know that very young chil- dren have a penchant for using verbal memory as a tool for learning. But mem- orizing a story does not guarantee that children comprehend or understand it. “Retelling does not mean memorizing—it means recounting in the child’s own words. . . . Retellings go beyond the literal [recall] and help children focus on a deeper understanding of the text” (Gibson, Gold, and Sgouros 2003, 2). A child must consider what parts of the story are neces- sary to the overall meaning or wholeness of the story. Children use their language when they retell stories, yet they may “borrow” key vocabulary from the story and include important repeating phrases or words. Children who are proficient at retelling in- corporate key sayings, characters, setting, and critical meanings, among other things. In this regard, analysis is part of the story-​ retelling process. When working with young The teacher uses a familiar book, props, and playful interaction to children, there is value in documenting the guide the child in a satisfying experience with retelling. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET Story Retelling with Young Children    5 memorizations in retellings and pretend readings. We observe to see if mem- orization moves toward conceptual understanding, internalizing story maps, cadences, and structures as children develop. Although story retelling requires the skills inherent in remembering and summarizing, it is not creating a summary of the story. Finding the essentials of the story enables the child to retell the story in a meaningful way through his or her own perspective. Story retelling is a skill, but it also is an art that demands ongoing teaching and preparation. Story Retelling as Problem Solving When children retell a story, they discern what is most important and what is least important about the story; problem solving and analysis are involved. They continuously make decisions about the story: determining what comes next, identifying who the characters are, and sharing what happens. Children need time to practice the story with adult facilitation so learning goals are realized. When enacting stories in small groups, social negotiation (who will be which characters, where the tree will be located) offers children problem-​ solving experiences in the process. Similarly, teachers problem solve when they select texts for children to re- tell, differentiate instruction, and identify children’s skills and knowledge of story as they retell. Analysis of story-retelling data serves not only in nurturing children’s learning strengths and facilitating next steps—it also offers teachers a venue for checking children’s story-related vocabulary and comprehension. The Benefits of Story Retelling Story retelling with young children is used with both fiction and nonfiction literature. Because story retelling focuses on understanding, vocabulary devel- opment, and sequence, it is supportive of children’s content learning. When children at a local preschool were learning about social and emotional con- cepts, their teacher asked them to enact the expressions in the book Glad Monster, Sad Monster: A Book about Feelings by Ed Emberley and Anne Miranda (1997). Ben- efits from using story-retelling strategies with young children across the curriculum abound. Identifying what content knowl- edge and skills children learn as a result re- quires documentation and analysis. We teach the concepts and skills of story retelling because we want children to be able to communicate effectively through retell- ing, enacting, and recounting. Retelling sto- ries is an application experience—a higher Children participate in the story and, in doing so, enhance emotions-​ level of learning than answering a question related vocabulary and dramatic expression. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET 6     Chapter 1 pertaining to the story or picking out pictures of the charac- ters. Story retelling also has specific benefits among different ages and developmental ranges. For English-language learners, experiencing a story in many different ways serves to develop comprehension. For example, at a district pre-K, children made gingerbread men out of playdough and baked gingerbread cookies so they could better understand the term “gingerbread” and “cutout cookies.” They enacted the story after reading it in small groups, and they created paper gingerbread characters who could say, “Run, run as fast as you can; you can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man.” In this regard, story retelling builds bridges between the concrete and symbolic. Related experi- ences serve as tools for building descriptive vocabulary with adult narration and interaction predominating in early retell- ing experiences. With young preschoolers, a song or familiar story may be enacted with props, practiced, and retold or sung again and again as part of a story-retelling center. Language de- velopment is all about talking, communicating, and interacting This child is experiencing gingerbread-​scented in many different ways—and that’s what story retelling is. playdough with rolling pins and cookie cutters So, the overarching goal of teaching story retelling to young to build her conceptual understanding of children is to facilitate the development of effective retellers vocabulary in The Gingerbread Man. and communicators; however, in doing this, other benefits fol- low. Story retelling increases young children’s overall develop- ment of language and literacy skills (Dunst, Simkus, and Hamby 2012; McGee 2008). Skills development is likely due to the following: “The ability to engage children in a story so deeply that they adopt its literary language, explore the motivation of the characters, and try out multiple ways of being in a character’s role, is effective in promoting children’s literacy and language growth” (McGee, 2008, 157–58). Effective story retelling requires communication and comprehension. If we understand the meaning or context of what we are listening to or reading, we might use semantic cues to help us figure out a word we might not know—or to predict what might flow next in the reading, helping our fluency. Children who participate in story-retelling learning experiences have opportunities to grow in story-related vocabulary, comprehension, and meaning making, all of which are supportive of reading development and skills (Morrow 2015; Paris and Paris 2007). The advantages of incorporating story-retelling strategies with toddlers and preschoolers are reported in a meta-analysis conducted by the Center for Early Literacy Learning (Dunst, Simkus, and Hamby 2012). The researchers identi- fied eleven unrelated studies involving a total of 687 toddlers and preschoolers. Although not a “cure-all” for early literacy development, story retelling with young children is emerging as a very useful strategy for building vocabulary and comprehension strategies, according to the authors of the study. Story re- telling offers teachers a venue to understand children’s perceptions of the story COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET Story Retelling with Young Children  as they practice or play with story in preschool centers or free-play experience, for example. The language of story differs from the language we use while talking. We are less formal when we talk than while telling a story. Sentences used in talking may be incomplete; unnecessary words might be left out or blended together. In stories, sentences are more predictable. We use the words the, of, and and most frequently when we read—so much so that the words are considered as the most frequently read words in our vocabulary (Fry 2011). Story retelling supports children’s understanding of the structure of language found in stories, including experiencing and using frequently read words. Story-language structure means that an experienced story reteller expects to include the “what” (a person, animal, or thing—the subject) in a sentence. This person, animal, or thing will do something (the action or verb) or be de- scribed (adjective) in some way. We develop a sense of written sentence struc- ture before we define subject, verb, adjective, or sentence. Young children “get” story structure with repeated exposure to listening to stories. Syntactic cues help us figure out words and meanings while we read, and are solely based on how language is typically structured in stories. Syntactic cues improve reading fluency (smoothness and pace of reading), which is connected to stronger com- prehension while reading. Conducting story retelling with children develops language structures and increases oral language complexity (Morrow 2015). Story retelling also helps develop a sense of how stories are organized (Morrow 2015; Owocki 1999). In other words, a fictional story generally fol- lows a conceptual map: there is a beginning, middle, and end. We use “Once upon a time” and “They lived happily ever after” in particular places. There are Children choose to retell The Very Hungry Caterpillar together in the Library Center, sup- porting each other in remembering both the repetitive language and what comes next in the story sequence. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL   7 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET 8     Chapter 1 characters, settings, plots, themes, problems, and solutions, and typically we predict that the problem might be resolved closer to the end. Children who have experiences with story retelling internalize the conceptual story map and apply it to the stories they have learned. Morrow found that story retellers in kindergarten and first grade applied structural elements of story when asked to dictate original stories (1996). Morrow further reports that story retelling builds sum- marizing skills. Inevitably, when children retell stories, they must be able to communicate effectively the gist of the story in the retelling (2015). Researchers Brainerd and Renya (1993) studied two types of memory in childhood: verbatim memory (remembering particular, perhaps even exact, details), and gist (the essential idea). The research indicates that children of all ages are capable of obtaining gist. Younger children, how- ever, characteristically tend to “store and retrieve verbatim memory traces,” which are defined as “precise details of the information” and are not as enduring as gist (Santrock 2012, 359). Although story retelling is not summarizing, it relies on summarizing skills and capturing gist in the retelling, which may be more challenging for very young children. Knowing that capturing the gist of story is more difficult for young children provides us with further rationale for using a devel- opmental perspective in teaching story-retelling strategies to young children. It also rationalizes using props and visual aids with young children. Gibson, Gold, and Sgouros suggest that story retelling This teacher and her young students are or- ganizing for a story enactment by identifying demonstrates what children remember. They also suggest that how many children are in the group and how story retelling requires children to reconstruct and reflect on many characters are in the book. text. Children may distinguish words and consider meanings as they reconstruct and retell. “Retellings require children to think more conceptually—to look at the bigger picture—rather than answering specific questions about the text” (2003, 2). Similarly, Morrow indicates that story retelling promotes organization of thought. Both Morrow and Owocki advocate for quality teacher facilitation in moving children toward organized thinking about story (2015; 1999). Orga- nized thinking about story results from meaningful and intentional discussions over stories. Teachers organize key elements of story when asking about char- acters or requesting sequence of events, for example. Story retelling engages children and adults in active discussions (Morrow 1996). A proponent of positive interactions with young children in literacy-rich environments, Morrow promotes modeling responses if children are not able to supply them to teachers. Modeling is an effective strategy to promote lan- guage use among nonresponders and English-language learners. Morrow further indicates that story retelling provides a venue for demon- strating and discussing text-to-self connections (2015). Most preschool chil- dren are able to make connections between narrative text and themselves with COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET Story Retelling with Young Children  assistance from their teachers. Making connections builds interest and invest- ment in the learning process. Facilitating active story-related discussions that connect to children’s lives are at the heart of teaching for meaning. The benefits I’ve described above serve as rationale for implementing story retelling with young children. Similarly, an awareness of story-retelling limita- tions assists teachers as they plan for effective learning. Limitations to Implementing Story Retelling with Young Children Story retelling is beneficial to children, but there are particular issues in imple- menting effective strategies that pertain to young children and how they learn. One primary limitation of implementing story retelling with young children is in the lack of information about story-retelling pedagogy: the understanding of where children are developmentally and how to teach them effectively. A misconception of what encompasses story retelling complicates how we know where children are developmentally. The focus in recent years has moved away from the pedagogy of story retelling to the assessment of story retelling. Due to the lack of resources for preschool teachers, story retelling may involve quickly asking a child to retell a story after listening for the first time. In this approach, there is no way for the child to develop skills or deep meaning. Developing story-retelling skills in young children is complex and multilayered. Teachers need to determine where children are developmentally—from simple to com- plex retellings and from emerging to proficient competencies. A second limitation is related to the heterogeneous populations served in classrooms. Children in preschool settings are often grouped in multiage class- rooms, holding diverse backgrounds in literacy and vocabulary acquisition. To differentiate instruction effectively, teachers of young children rely on an understanding of how children learn effectively according to developmental continuums (see chapter 4). Benefits of and research on effective story-retelling development in young children guide teachers’ planning and facilitation for effective learning among the populations they serve. A third issue in implementing story retelling with young children is that their language development differs greatly. It is well documented that children’s early vocabulary development is typically related to parental and caregiver interaction. Hart and Risley compared children’s exposure to words in families among varied socioeconomic status levels between the ages of seven months and three years of age, where they found an established pattern of language development that could predict the trajectory of their future use of language (2003). The study’s subjects were children from three distinct levels of socioeconomic status (SES): high, middle/lower, and poverty. Among their findings was a profound comparison of average word use by families across the traditional SES levels. An extrapolated data set was described as a “30 million word gap by age three” (2003, 4). In other words, children who are in poverty hear less than one-third of the words children experience in high SES families. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL   9 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET 10     Chapter 1 They describe this phenomenon as an “early catastrophe” regarding language development across the socioeconomic strata (4). Young children’s grasp of language, whether it is first or second language acquisition, impacts how they will navigate literacy learning and story retelling. Children acquire receptive vocabulary prior to expressive vocabulary. Story re- telling demands expression. The nature of varied language levels among chil- dren in early childhood classrooms impacts how teachers implement strategies to scaffold children toward larger vocabularies. Story retelling from a develop- mental perspective serves as a scaffold and motivator to facilitate language and meaning in young children. Hart and Risley’s study also compels us to use pos- itive interactions, modeling, and encouragement as we interact with children in story-retelling activities. Next, children’s varying exposure to literature prior to entering school challenges teachers to differentiate story retelling with young children. I recall taking a group of undergraduate teacher candidates to a local, district-run early childhood developmental center for family literacy field experiences with chil- dren and families. Families whose children used this center were from varied backgrounds: refugees, immigrants, English-language learners, Caucasian chil- dren, and an urban Native American preschool. At the end of each field visit, families were given a copy of the children’s book that served as a common expe- rience for all the centers in the “family book celebrations.” One mother shared with a teacher candidate her appreciation for the children’s book. This was the first book she had ever owned. Children who have little to no exposure to lan- guage or children’s literature, those who are learning English as a second lan- guage, and children who do not share mainstream culture may be perceived as deficit oriented because they may need more modeling, coaching, scaffolding, and support in developing story-retelling skills. Increasingly, however, teachers counter such deficit models of the child by learning about children’s cultural backgrounds, knowledge, and skills, or their “funds of knowledge” (Moll et al. 1992/2001, 132). The researchers indicate the following: Our analysis of funds of knowledge represents a positive (and we argue, realistic) view of households as containing ample cognitive and cultural re- sources with great, potential utility in classroom instruction (italics by the re- searchers). . . . This view of households, we should mention, contrasts sharply with prevailing and accepted perceptions of working-class families as some- how disorganized socially and deficient intellectually; perceptions that are well accepted and rarely challenged in the field of education and elsewhere. (Moll et al. 1992/2001, 134) Alternatively, the familiar story of The Three Little Pigs—a common one for story retelling because of its popularity—might offer a child multiple versions with the same story, thus complicating the retelling for the young learner. The Three Little Pigs could also pose issues for the English-language learner or a child who has never heard the story. A recent trip to a local independent book- seller in our city produced twenty-seven versions of the story (a quick search of COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET Story Retelling with Young Children  a popular online bookseller yielded far more than that number). Although the story holds similarities across the versions, differences exist. This leads to an is- sue of how much background a child has in story and exposure to stories—and what impact these exposures have on how children choose to retell a story. It also leads to questions about the role cultural background has on story-​ retelling implementations in the classroom. Diversity in cultural upbringing in American classrooms does impact chil- dren’s language and literacy development. Our Midwestern city’s school district enrolls children representing over one hundred languages as their first lan- guage—none of which are English. Differences in cultural values in language and literacy have an impact on developing story narratives among young chil- dren (Anderson et al. 2013). A funds-of-knowledge approach recognizes what children bring to schools as strengths: their culture, background knowledge, and skills (Gonzalez, Moll, and Amanti 2005). A funds-of-knowledge perspec- tive compels teachers to first learn about families in their own contexts and then design classroom environments and curricula with elements of children’s cultural backgrounds, knowledge, and skills woven within. Home visits and seeking out children’s or families’ favorite stories (handed down, cultural, oral, traditional, or literature-based) are natural ways to weave in funds of knowl- edge in the context of story retelling. Next, young children may not be interested in a particular story or story retelling and don’t engage in story retelling at the time we may ask them to do so. Or they may retell a story in order of importance to them as opposed to retelling a story in sequential order. Rather than considering this as a mis- cue or error, teachers who understand the role development plays in learn- ing celebrate this finding and document the retelling as a marker in the child’s story-retelling progression—good assessment data demonstrating the role that self plays in expression of story. Taking creative license with retellings during playtime or at centers could be viewed by those not aware of the developmental need for play as a limitation to story retelling with young children. Those who understand why children need play will see this as an opportunity for children to make meaning (Welsch 2008). When children are not interested in the story, they may actually have fully developed story-retelling skills and knowledge, but it hasn’t emerged in this particular retelling—another reason why assessment over time is crucial. The issue of child interest plays into problems with assess- ment in general (more on assessment is found in chapter 8). Young children use play as a means for learning and coping at times, which offers interesting opportunities for teachers. Stories retold through a child’s perspective during play episodes may take a story in a direction not found in the book. Creepy Carrots may visit Aunt Megan’s wedding for a reason during an open-ended playtime (Reynolds 2012). Although not in the story, this re- imagining may serve an important role in working out three-year-old Char- lotte’s concerns over an impending change when her aunt will soon marry and relocate to another town. It is Charlotte’s way of making important connections to the text while serving as a coping strategy at the same time. Finally, older children who love to memorize may find story retelling in COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL   11 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET 12     Chapter 1 their own words very challenging. As mentioned earlier, story retelling is not memorizing, yet in early childhood, we ac- knowledge memorization of story as part of the developmen- tal process in some children and related to verbatim memory representations mentioned earlier in the chapter. To alleviate memorization in story retelling with young children, model and encourage children to tell stories in their own words. Ask comprehension and elaboration questions to share value in meaning as opposed to “getting the words right,” which essen- tially conflicts with messages we send about reading (where we do wish children to strive for word accuracy). Issues and limitations in implementing story retelling with young children may be capitalized on in various ways. If you are using large multiage groupings, be aware of the research demonstrating that working with small groups of three to four children in story retelling/enacting is most effective (McGee 2008). Language-rich classroom environments with quality teacher and peer interactions/responses enhance language de- velopment. Although children’s backgrounds include varied exposures to literature, teachers capitalize on the interactive This child pretends while dressing up as a community helper—his enactments during read-aloud experience to create a common experience in the play enable him to explore roles he is learning classroom. Lack of child interest may be countered by offering about in large- and small-group work. times during the day for children to freely explore their play, social, and cognitive interests and also by presenting children with high-quality books that appear to be written for the sole purpose of en- gaging and entertaining children. Respecting the rhythm of the child counters lack of interest as well. By observing children during play, teachers capitalize on documenting how stories connect to children’s thinking and processing skills while also capitalizing on teachable moments in the process. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET Retelling Stories with Language and Understanding 2 T eachers who work with young children plan experiences designed to de- velop language and understanding. As in the example below, children are encouraged when teachers, parents, and caregivers repeat their words and of- fer new concepts and words with encouragement or joyful voices. Integral to the work of early childhood educators is the development of language, which teachers use many differentiation strategies to achieve. Children between the ages of three and five represent a wide developmental span. In addition to the span in ages and developmental levels, preschool children represent varied cultures, socioeconomic statuses, and experiences. Teachers must plan learn- ing experiences that provide growth for all children. The need for continuous The teacher stops reading and says with surprise, “The pan does look like a ball!” The toddler repeats, “Ball!” and pats the page again. His teacher says, “Yes, ball!” They make eye contact and smile as though sharing an inside joke. The child says, “Ball,” followed by, “no, no, no.” The teacher repeats, “Ball, no, no, no, David!” Later, the teacher shares her joy over the incident, the first time the child labeled a picture in a book with her. (McWilliams, June 2015 research notes) COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 13 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET 14     Chapter 2 differentiation and individualization among young children is one of many reasons why teaching in small groups is more effective than large-group instruction. Because the development of children’s language and understanding is always on our agenda whether we’re teaching about math concepts or about watering the class plants, teachers of young children continu- ously seek interaction with their students. Teachers ask questions about paintings and inquire about the rocks children take to school. They tap into Maya’s excitement over her new puppy and try to find out more Recognizing that stories exist in classroom routines, a teacher about why Antonio had a hard time sepa- posted photographs with labels in top-to-bottom sequence for rating from his mother today. Teachers seek children as both a support for remembering and a mechanism for reflection on the routine. out stories from children and learn about their lives and their interests. Children’s sto- ries are not limited to conversations with teachers; their stories emerge in play, in art, in the block center—everywhere. Teachers create environments to nurture stories that are relevant to chil- dren and their lives. Engaging young children in participative stories, recording their own stories and acting them out, and documenting stories in children’s art when they emerge are some of the many ways teachers support language development and meaning in early childhood classrooms. By starting off with an understanding of children’s language and learning needs, we are better able to select what to teach (the content) and how to teach it (the pedagogy). Understanding Children’s Language Learning Needs in the Preschool Years Early childhood teachers ascertain “starting points” by determining children’s current knowledge and interests through observation, asking families, and other assessment strategies. Children develop an internal understanding of language before they are able to communicate words and concepts to others. Some preschoolers may know concepts or vocabulary but, for various reasons, do not speak very often. Understanding what one hears is known as a receptive vocabulary. When children label a concept or share their comprehension in words with others, they have developed an expressive vocabulary. This is one reason why teachers constantly model vocabulary. Beginning with what children accomplish independently helps us in re- sponsive teaching. We scaffold children to higher levels of skill and under- standing in developmentally appropriate ways: with small steps or hops instead of large leaps. Similarly, we build depth of understanding by widening concepts with experiences. By encompassing a concept with hands-on experiences and COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET Retelling Stories with Language and Understanding  interaction over time, children develop deep understandings and make im- portant connections. Carefully selected literature for the young child offers opportunities for language development. Typically, picture books offer more sophisticated vo- cabulary words than talking—one reason why our work with reading to young children often involves teaching story-related language and vocabulary. The wording in picture books may be beyond a child’s typical interactions but useful to learn because they are words that will be encountered frequently when the child learns to read. Authors of children’s books use words typically not spoken to children, words that are, in fact, beyond basic words. Beck, McKeown, and Kucan categorized words typically held by literate people into a tier system that helps us make sense of vocabulary instruction (2013). Tier One words are basic and frequently spoken (such as happy or car). High-quality, simple concept books written expressly for infants and toddlers often rely on basic words. Tier Two words are also frequently used but richer than Tier One words (joyful or automobile). The authors call Tier Two words “sophisticated” and for children to use sophisticated words, they need “robust” vocabulary instruction (Beck, McKeown, and Kucan 2013, 3). Finally, Tier Three words are infrequently used and often apply to specific disciplines. We help children develop sophisticated words by providing child-friendly definitions and helping children make connections to their own lives. When teachers select quality books that appeal to young learners’ interests and inter- act over the content, they expand vocabulary. Selecting the right book with so- phisticated words is an important part of planning for story retelling. Teachers look at issues of length, complexity, illustration quality, child interest, and vo- cabulary (see chapter 4 for more on book selection). A thorough understand- ing of stories helps children in the story-retelling process. Three language-development teaching goals go into our read-aloud work with children: (1) using intentional oral language in our story conversations, (2) developing listening comprehension, and (3) identifying potential vocabulary words and their meanings in stories. The first two will be discussed as teaching strategies for story retelling in chapter 3. Generally accepted constructs for de- veloping vocabulary follow here. Teaching Story-Related Vocabulary to Support Retelling When teachers identify and teach vocabulary words found in stories, they sup- port young children in successful story-retelling experiences (McGee 2008). Researchers indicate that words are learned over the passage of time through meaningful and repeated exposures to vocabulary (Neuman 2011; Harris, Golinkoff, and Hirsh-Pasek 2011). Children need many experiences with words and their meanings in authentic ways to really grow their vocabularies. In preschool, just as with teaching English-language learners, developing vo- cabulary goes beyond talk and into the world of experiential learning, relying on teaching strategies that put hands-on materials and other resources in the COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL   15 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET 16     Chapter 2 learning environment. Using authentic materials, examining phenomena of study, and watching a video are several strategies teachers use to build vocab- ulary. Intentionality in planning plays into the effective teaching and learning of vocabulary words. Both early literacy and child development researchers advocate inten- tional and strong emphasis on vocabulary instruction for read-aloud experi- ences (Harris, Golinkoff, and Hirsh-Pasek 2011; McGee and Schickedanz 2007; Neuman 2011). Key characteristics emerge from the research and literature on teaching vocabulary to young children: Identify potential vocabulary words ahead of the read-aloud. Teach the definition of vocabulary words through explicit (direct) instruction and provide application experiences through implicit (contextual) teaching. Repeatedly look for opportunities to use the word with children even after the story is no longer a focus. Provide experiences for children to use the words authentically to promote depth of processing. Select stories and words that interest children. Teach vocabulary in child-friendly terms with interactive and responsive strategies rather than using passive strategies. Recognize that vocabulary learning helps children learn about grammar and vice versa. Monitor children’s progress by documenting their growth in curriculum-related vocabulary. Let’s look at how these characteristics drive preschool teaching strategies for vocabulary development in read-aloud experiences, which in turn support children’s story-retelling experiences. Identify Potential Vocabulary Words Researchers advocate for establishing vocabulary focus words prior to reading to even our youngest learners (McGee and Schickedanz 2007; Neuman 2011). Draw attention to vocabulary words before reading (using pictures in the book as applicable or by discussing or enacting). The process doesn’t end with identi- fication, however. Effective instruction includes isolating the words and drawing attention to them while reading. Typically, teachers new to teaching vocabulary to preschoolers begin with one focus word per story and slowly build toward higher numbers of vocabulary with future read-alouds, one at a time. They base the number of vocabulary words per story on preschoolers’ stamina and devel- opmental levels. Beauchat, Blamey, and Philippakos suggest focusing on one or two words per story for preschool children and two to three for kindergarten and first grade (2012). McGee and Schikedanz, when writing about read-alouds with three- to six-year-old children, note that they select between five and ten words or phrases to analyze and explain while reading (2007). To complete the vocabulary identification process, teachers associate words COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET Retelling Stories with Language and Understanding  with meanings. Whether the definition comes from a children’s dictionary or is one the teacher creates with her students in mind, the definitions should be clear, using child-oriented terminology—often including Tier One wording so children can relate. Effective vocabulary teaching includes communicating meaning through explicit teaching. Use Explicit and Implicit Teaching In explicit teaching—also called direct teaching—teachers tell children what words they are focusing on, and they give clear and precise child-oriented meanings. Include a picture card or prop or the real thing (concrete materials) to represent the vocabulary word if feasible; act out the vocabulary word if it is a verb. Teachers offer children opportunities to discuss vocabulary words and definitions to develop deeper meanings through sharing perspectives. Text-to-self connections, where children associate the vocabulary word with something in their lives, are particularly relevant for preschool students. Chil- dren need opportunities to contribute examples of the word usage from their own lives and apply those words contextually. Implicit teaching is an indirect or contextual way of learning. In implicit teaching, teachers draw out vocabulary words from the context of reading. Teachers might model how they would figure out what the word means within the reading scenario, thereby modeling contextual cues. Additionally, teach- ers offer children environmental contexts and suggestions for applying their new vocabulary words in the classroom through free play, story-retelling cen- ters, props, the creative arts, books in the block center, and so on. Using new While children are “shelling corn” during the fall (a popular fall sensory table experience in Nebraska), the teacher seizes the opportunity to expand on vocabulary and concept development related to autumn-themed books and experiences: shelling, husking, shuck- ing, corn, cob, dried corn, feed for animals, and seed. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL   17 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET 18     Chapter 2 vocabulary words in the context of story retelling is an important application experience for young children that helps them remember new words. Both ex- plicit and implicit teaching are needed for effective vocabulary development in the early childhood years (Bridges et al. 2012; Harris, Golinkoff, and Hirsh- Pasek 2011; Neuman 2011). Children need clear information about word meanings, and they learn words best in meaningful contexts. Children Learn through Repetition Learning happens in layers. We offer repetition while teaching young chil- dren so they can revisit concepts and gather depth of knowledge based on their new schemas. When we repeat a story, we’re not really repeating the same things over and over again, but instead, we’re revisiting through dif- ferent angles or alternative perspectives, or in greater depth than before. Vocabulary development similarly mim- ics this process of layering on knowledge and spiraling through meanings. Repeated exposure to vocabulary instruction is a characteristic of teaching for meaning. Go back to the context of the word in the story to talk about it again after reading, share how the word is used in other contexts, or talk about the word in relation to chil- dren’s own lives (text-to-self connections). Neuman, researching vocabulary develop- ment in kindergarten and primary grades, found that although teachers addressed vocabulary in school while reading, they Enacting the story A Box Can Be Many Things (Rau 1997), children seldom repeated meaningful vocabulary and teachers use the book to help them follow the sequence of how experiences (2011). This is problematic a box may be turned into several different make-believe things and because children need repeated exposures enact the meanings of words such as flip, punch holes, and rip. to effectively learn and apply new vocab- ulary words. Just as Hart and Risley cite the importance of parental impact on children’s vocabulary learning (2003), relationships between teacher input and child vocabulary output exist also in early school environments (Harris, Golinkoff, and Hirsh-Pasek 2011). Children need frequent and quality-​oriented exposure to vocabulary instruction—a principle that is at the core of the shared/interactive reading discussion that is found in the third chapter. Promote Depth of Processing To understand the concept of depth of processing, we must look at two types of knowledge: factual and conceptual. Factual knowledge is simply content; it could involve rote memorization. A child might tell a teacher that an insect has six legs, three body parts, antennae, and sometimes wings, for example. The child has factual knowledge of the word insect. Neuman indicates that this type COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET Retelling Stories with Language and Understanding  of knowledge isn’t enough. She offers differences between factual knowledge (or rote memorization of words) that might be placed in short-term memory, and a depth-of-processing knowledge, which is how conceptual understanding is developed (2011). Centers-based learning, such as dramatic play, the creative arts, library, and science, is helpful here, as is inquiry-oriented teaching and learning—when children interact with each other to ask questions, find out an- swers, make observations, create hypotheses, experiment, solve problems, use literature and media as sources of information, and report to others. Neuman suggests that learning activities for young children who use “play, drama, and problem solving tasks” will create longer-lasting and more relevant meanings (360), all of which require children to use their knowledge of vocabulary. Similarly, Harris, Golinkoff, and Hirsh-Pasek propose that guided play offers a venue for effective vocabulary acquisition as opposed to memoriza- tion (2011). Guided play is a strategy that enables teacher facilitation of learn- ing objectives in the context of play, engagement, interaction, and discovery. Depth of processing brings about conceptual knowledge: an ability to express or demonstrate why, explain, and articulate cause-and-effect relationships. In this case, a child might demonstrate knowledge of an insect by applying the defi- nition to an illustration or a three-dimensional sculpture out of clay. He may retell a nonfiction passage about insects using a model or real insect as props in the retelling. Our overarching goal in teaching vocabulary is developing con- ceptual understanding through depth of processing. The bottom line is that depth-of-processing vocabulary is acquired when children have opportunities to experiment, play, and practice with words, and they get these opportunities not from discussing or memorizing vocabulary but from conducting inquiry projects, enacting or retelling stories with props, creating with art and recyclable or repurposed materials, exploring, playing, and experiencing. Teachers and parents may think that children have acquired conceptual understanding or depth in processing when a child states a definition of a word or successfully picks that definition out in a multiple-choice test in el- ementary school. It’s possible these children have deep understandings—but also possible they may not. Factual knowledge typically precedes conceptual understanding. In my work with children, I’ve learned that a child (grades K–2) can state the definition of an insect or tell the five senses but may not be able to demonstrate conceptual understanding by applying—either through illustration or demonstration—an accurate portrayal or discussion of insects or the senses. Offer Curriculum That Appeals to Children’s Interests Just as children learn through play, they also learn vocabulary more effectively if adults offer words based on children’s interests. Similarly, stories that interest children will have longevity for repeated readings and analysis. Relating a story to the child’s interest or personal experience (a text-to-self connection) is an ef- fective practice during the read-aloud experience (Dunst, Simkus, and Hamby 2012; Harris, Golinkoff, and Hirsch-Pasek 2011; Morrow 1996, 2015). COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL   19 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET 20     Chapter 2 Teach with Interactive and Responsive Strategies Interaction and responsiveness in teaching are additional characteristics of quality vocabulary teaching and learning. “Adults who take turns, share pe- riods of joint focus and express positive affect when interacting with young children provide children with the scaffolding needed to facilitate language and cognitive growth” (Harris, Golinkoff, and Hirsh-Pasek 2011, 54). Teachers ask why (analyze), how, and what-do-you-mean (explain) questions. Listen to chil- dren’s answers and offer responses that either validate children’s understanding or take them to the next level. Responses that include acknowledgment of what the child accomplished (“You used a very unhappy voice and facial expression when your Beatrice puppet said ‘Mine’ and grabbed all the balloons from the clown”) will mean more than praise. Sensitive interactions and responses are beneficial to language development. Vocabulary and Grammar Are Connected Because children’s literature is typically written in complete sentences, it offers children models of grammar and sophisticated, wonderful, rich words. The act of retelling a story encourages teachers and children to get into their story voices and use the language of story while making it their own. The research tells us that vocabulary learning and grammatical development are recipro- cal processes (Harris, Golinkoff, and Hirsh-Pasek 2011). This is important for story listeners and readers because language structures help us clarify meaning in a vague or unknown word. It is also important to retelling stories because the reteller must use meanings and language structures to communicate the story to others. This offers implications on the importance of the story read- aloud while children are in the midst of developing vocabulary and grammar. Scaffold children’s vocabulary and grammar (through analysis, clarifications, direct teaching, and repeating their words plus one new concept or word or meaning) while interacting, reading, and retelling. Teachers model being great readers: we model our thinking strategies while reading (called think-out-loud strategies) and engaging story retellers. Assess Progress Finally, monitoring the progress of children’s vocabulary development is essen- tial to growth (Neuman 2011). Although assessments such as the Peabody Pic- ture Vocabulary Test, which measures receptive vocabulary (Dunn and Dunn 2007), are helpful to teachers, Neuman recommends vocabulary assessments focused on classroom curriculum because they are more accurate in determin- ing vocabulary development specific to the classroom. Essentially, document- ing children’s usage and explanations of curricular-related vocabulary offers us ways to find out if children are growing in vocabulary. Story retelling demands that children understand and apply vocabu- lary effectively. When teachers ask children for elaborations of story-related COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET Retelling Stories with Language and Understanding    21 vocabulary, observe children applying vocabulary in play, and observe vocabulary usage while story retelling, teachers gain insight into where children are in developing understandings of concepts and words. Teachers find opportunities to model and encourage vocabulary usage across the classroom environment. When teachers or parents engage children in dialogue about the text through questioning, making connections, and elaborating on vocabulary, children’s expressive vocabulary in- creases overall. Similarly, story retelling supports vocabulary development by offering application contexts that are espe- cially effective when teachers are coaching and/or using guided play strategies. Successful story retelling with young children relies on their understanding of vocabulary found in the literature. But it also encompasses understanding the organizational struc- tures of stories and information. Next, we’ll explore how to help organize story retelling for young children by analyzing the structures of text. Using Structures of Text to Organize and Support Story Retelling Before reading about pumpkins, this teacher revisited the dissected pumpkin and the vo- cabulary of pumpkins generated earlier in the week with children. Exploring concrete items is an effective strategy for developing vocabulary. Children’s literature is our primary source of stories in literature-​ based story retelling. Fictional (narrative) organizational structures differ from the ways nonfiction (expository text) is organized. Fictional organizational structures, also called story maps, are generally similar to each other (and likewise nonfiction books are organized in similar ways). This knowledge of story structure and organization helps us with making meaning when we listen and we read. But this knowledge of story structure—that it exists and that the structures of fiction and nonfiction are different—comes with experiencing different types of text. It comes with a thoughtful guide who helps us navigate the world of books. Young children are just getting started in exploring story and nonfiction texts, and they aren’t in a position to effectively analyze stories for their organi- zational structures before retelling. When teachers provide the story’s organi- zation, they support children in becoming successful with story retelling. Ways to provide story organization to children are varied. Here are a few examples: offer children prompts (such as questions) while retelling; include access to the book while learning how to retell the story; provide specific props or visual aids that serve as reminders of key parts of the story; and create a simple story map on poster paper (or, as in the case of one teacher, make a story path on which children place their props as they walk along and retell the story). Organizing the story supports children in the retelling. Before we look into how fiction and nonfiction stories are typically orga- nized, it should be said that not all literature for the young child is organized in COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET 22     Chapter 2 the typical way. In early childhood, literature is inclusive of songs, which may or may not have much of a story line. Concept books abound and include topics such as counting, emotions, ABCs, or balls. They have no problems, solutions, goals, or meeting of goals. Sometimes authors will reveal concepts through an organized structure, however, such as using a calendar to share the concept of eggs hatching or metamorphosis. Other times, simple stories are told as add-on or cumulative structures—I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly—or in circles—If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (Numeroff 1985). Identifying Narrative Text Structures Retelling a specific fictional story requires the child to apply the story’s impor­ tant vocabulary and its meaning to her overall understanding of how stories are told: the structure or conceptual map of narrative text. Many template versions of fictional story maps exist, from simple (beginning, middle, and end) to com- plex (all story elements, problems, solutions, and themes). The Recommended Resources section at the end of this book demonstrate how story structures are used to create an organizing visual aid for retelling with young children. Our mainstream conceptual map of a typical fictional story includes a setting, char- acters, plot, theme, beginning, middle, end, and problem and solution: The underlying simple structure of narrative text is in sequence: beginning, middle, and end that flow linearly. The beginning of a story is often associated with special wording such as “Once upon a time,” “Long ago and far away,” or “There once was a. . . .” Often we are introduced to all the main characters and provided knowledge of the setting, and we may get hints of a problem. Otherwise, the problem (or goal) emerges near the middle. The middle of the story typically is where the problem (or en- deavor to reach a goal) heightens. The middle often culminates at the climax of the story (if there is one) where problems are resolved (or the goal is met). The end of the story lets us know what happens after the climax— and “they all lived happily ever after, the end”—with special wording for the end of the story, especially in fairy tales. A story has a sense of place and time: the setting. A story has characters who are engaged in the action. A story has a plot: the essential causal events. A story includes a theme: the overall big idea the author is trying to communicate to the reader, a moral, or a lesson learned. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET Retelling Stories with Language and Understanding  •• •• A story could have repeating phrases or recurring events that must be retold over and over again to keep the integrity of the story intact. Stories carry a specific language structure that differs from the way we typically hold conversations. Not all stories follow the aforementioned European narrative map. With an influx of immigrants, refugees, and other second-language learners in our schools, knowledge of cultural variance especially found in traditional stories is crucial. It requires teachers to let go of their long-held assumptions that all fiction follows a similar pattern. For example, Resnick and Snow indicate that in some cultures, the story is mapped more as circles around the theme in var- ious ways (common in Latino and African American stories) as opposed to a more sequential European map (2009). The authors note on the other hand that some Japanese stories are more succinct than European versions, suggesting that the stories are “concise accounts that mirror the artistic precision of haiku poems” (10). Identifying Structures in Expository Text The word expository is derived from the word expose, which means “to reveal.” Expository text is nonfiction writing, and in the case of biography, memoir, or history, expository text could appear in a similar manner as narrative text. Expository text explains, informs, describes, defines, and instructs. Children typically come into initial contact with expository text when they check out books from the library about animals or dinosaurs, places to visit, or historic/ contemporary figures. In the early childhood years, expository text shows up in science or social studies (and other content-related) textbooks or literature. Young children need experiences with expository texts in interactive read- alouds (connected to inquiry-oriented projects or interest-driven searches) for the sake of navigating reading for information when they are older. Children engaged with nonfiction benefit from understanding the organi- zational structure of expository text. They benefit from knowing that exposi- tory text is organized into big ideas as headings with details to follow. Captions are under pictures. What they are reading is true information as best as can be told. Likewise, teachers help young students organize their nonfiction retell- ings (sharing information) under similar structures. The many content-area disciplines organize information differently; examples of typical organizational structures are as follows: •• Describing by stating the overall topic, offering big ideas, and following with details for each big idea. Often this is a mainstay with our youngest learners because this version of expository text is so compatible with observation and working with real materials (such as flowers and insects). COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL   23 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET 24     Chapter 2 Offering cause and effect Persuading by making a statement, giving the pros and cons of an issue, and taking a position Comparing and contrasting Presenting problems and solutions Asking questions and answering them Providing sequential information (as in historic events or describ- ing a procedure) Teaching goals for developing story retellers align with objectives for cul- tivating conceptual understandings of language, story vocabulary, and mean- ings. Nurturing story retellers includes teaching concepts of narrative and expository texts (organization and core concepts). Facilitating proficiencies in story retelling offers teachers a venue for teaching vocabulary and devel- oping conceptual understanding through experiential learning. In this regard, we create coherence between and among what we teach and what we expect children to learn. We focus our teaching on specific outcomes while scaffolding children’s learning. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET EARLY CHILDHOOD / CURRICULUM / LITERACY Integrate story-retelling activities to enhance social-emotional development, number sense, STEM, and more When children are taught how to listen to a story and retell the sequence of events, their reading comprehension, vocabulary, and oral language skills develop. In Beyond the Flannel Board, Dr. McWilliams demystifies the story-retelling experience for teachers of young children by identifying effective, intentional teaching and learning practices. With real-life examples and numerous activities, this book will help easily integrate story-retelling strategies across the curriculum. Learn how to: • Teach story-related vocabulary to support retelling • Build social and emotional concepts like self-esteem, identifying feelings, and controlling emotions • Support children’s STEM inquiries • Develop number sense M. Susan McWilliams holds a PhD in educational leadership and innovation and an MA in curriculum and instruction in education. She is an associate professor of early childhood teacher education at the University of Nebraska– Omaha. She is also an active advocate for community awareness of the crucial “Built on a solid theoretical and research foundation of how children learn, this book is full of practical, easy-to-apply strategies to make stories come alive for children. McWilliams takes stories beyond literacy, suggesting ways to support children’s growth in all developmental domains. Practical considerations for assessment strategies are also included, making this book a comprehensive and thorough resource for new and seasoned teachers alike!” —Michelle Rupiper, PhD, assistant chair and associate professor of practice, University of Nebraska–Lincoln role literacy development plays in children’s early years and stays involved in the Omaha Family Literacy Partnerships. Dr. McWilliams presents nationally and is widely published in early childhood publications, including Spotlight on Young Children: Exploring Play and Young Children. ISBN 978-1-60554-486-1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL $29.95