Storytelling in Schools
The Effects of Storytelling Experiences on Vocabulary Skills of Second Grade Students
A research paper presented to the faculty of the Library Science Department, University of Northern Iowa, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts
by Gail Froyen
Keywords: elementary education, language arts
Success on academic achievement tests has been largely based on the student's facility for using language. Thus, the acquisition and use of words has enhanced and become a predictor of one's aptitude for future learning.
Second grade students at Lowell School, Waterloo, Iowa, were taught storytelling techniques and given opportunities to practice these techniques for 35-40 minutes per week for six months. This activity, held during lunch, was self-selected and conducted in small groups (8-9 students in each group, with 43 students total).
Each session started with memory game activities, which helped develop both good listening skills and the ability to concentrate. A common goal, with everyone helping one another and the accomplishments of each storyteller celebrated by all, was an undoubtedly powerful inducement to learning. The group feeling was cooperative rather than competitive. Behavior boundaries and expectations were set high, were clearly expressed and consistently enforced. The fun and success aspect of telling and listening to stories was enhanced because of each student's responsibility for his/her behavior.
After six months, these students significantly increased their performance on vocabulary and reading comprehension tests beyond what was expected for that six month period, as measured by pre- and post- Iowa Tests of Basic Skills.
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