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Journal of Reading Behavior

1986, Volume XVIII, No. 2


Lesley Mandel Morrow
Rutgers University, Graduate School of Education, New Brunswick, NJ 08903

The study sought to determine if frequent story retellings with structural
guidance could improve kindergarten children's use of structural elements in
dictations of original stories and increase the oral language complexity of the
stories. Treatments were administered to children once a week for eight weeks.
After a story was read, the control children (n = 44) drew a picture about it
and the experimental children (n = 38) retold the story individually to a
research assistant. Story dictation pre- and posttests were administered.
Analysis of covariance indicated significant improvement for the experimental
group in dictation of original stories and in oral language complexity. Retelling
proved to be an instructional strategy capable of improving children's dicta-
tions of original stories and oral language complexity within those stories.

One of the most important strengths children can have in the development
of literacy is their oral language (Stauffer, 1970; Wilson, 1981). Research has
illustrated that children who have been exposed to literature at an early age
through having stories read to them frequently demonstrate an interest in learning
to read, develop complex language patterns, and acquire a wealth of
background information (Bower, 1976; Chomsky, 1972; Cohen, 1968;
Durkin, 1966). In addition, active participation in literary experiences
enhances oral language, comprehension, and an awareness of structural
elements in a story (Blank & Sheldon, 1971; Bower, 1976).
As mentioned, active participation in literary experiences has had positive
effects on the development of various literacy skills. According to the model of

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1985. It is possible that the skills gained from retelling stories could transfer to children's dictation or creation of original stories. plot episodes (events in which the main character attempts to attain the goal or solve the prob- blem). 1977). with an emphasis upon structural elements in the stories. Story retelling is a post- reading or listening recall in which children tell what they remember from their reading or listening. 1979. Descriptive studies support the notion that children demonstrate some concept of story structure or a knowledge of story elements (Applebee. Concept of story is determined by the number of structural elements included in their Downloaded from jlr. language development. Stein & Glenn. It is a procedure that provides the child with active participation in a literary experience through the use of oral language. Sense of Story Structure and Comprehension Development Several researchers have described story structures and grammars (Mandler & Johnson. Wittrock. 1977). Mandler and Johnson describe a schema for story as a set of expecta- tions about the structure of the story. one of the first experiences in the preparation of story writing. Thorndyke. Stein & Glenn. 1974. Story retelling is a strategy that seems to utilize and somewhat extend the generative learning model. could improve children's dictation of original stories specifically for inclusion of story structural elements and syn- tactic complexity. 1977. 1978. Gambrell. and a resolution (the attainment of the goal or solving of the problem. and in the inclusion of structural elements in children's retold stories.sagepub. Researchers have utilized story retelling most often as an assessment tool in studies investigating developmental trends in compre- hending stories (Mandler & Johnson. 1981). 1977. 1975. 1976). which may have long-term ramifications). 1977). It requires the learner to relate the various parts of a story and thus to integrate information. the following adaptation was used for this study: a well-formed story includes a setting ( by guest on November 26. understanding prose takes place when the reader engages in the con- struction of relationships with textual information. Zimiles & Kuhns. Thorndyke. & Wilson. Wittrock. place. Story retelling appears to have potential for skill development but it has not been widely tested.. 1977. a theme (an initiating event that causes the main character to react and form a goal or face a problem). positive results have been found in increased ability in comprehension. 1979. Rumelhart. 1981. Thorndyke. Based on the work of these researchers. Pfeiffer. and characters). Mandler & Johnson. In the few studies that have been done using story retelling as a strategy for skill development (Morrow. 2016 . 1985.136 Journal of Reading Beha vior generative learning (Linden & Wittrock. 1979. The present investigation sought to deter- mine if frequent practice and guidance in retelling stories. Stein & Glenn.

active involvement and peer interaction contributed to the children's increased performance. Brown (1975) found that children's story comprehension could be facilitated by active involvement in the reconstruction of a story. 1984). 1982. out of sequential order. The knowledge of story structure helps children to distinguish major from minor events and improves memory for what has happened. According to Brown. First graders tend to include settings. 1980). Pellegrini and Galda (1982) tested effects of varying modes of active in- volvement in story reconstruction on comprehension. 1982.sagepub. Younger children tend to recall elements that contribute most directly to the theme. children are building an in- ternal representation of story. Temple. initiating events. Role playing stories significantly improved comprehension of story and the inclusion of more structural elements in story retellings. children can reconstruct stories by arranging pictures of the story in se- quential order. Whaley. An awareness of story structure has a positive effect on the development of various literacy skills. According to Bower (1976). initiating events. such as in- itiating events which cause the main character to react and form a goal or face a problem (McConaughy. young children who lack an awareness of story structure tell stories with elements that are missing. According to these researchers. 1980. Gordon & Braun. While many of the studies discussed thus far were carried out among elementary school children who could read and write. Sadow. Golden and Vukelich (1981) report that the inclusion of structural elements within a story increases as grade level in- creases. Spiegel & Whaley. and resolu- tions. Children ages four to six generally include settings. When participating in this activity. Age often determines the child's conceptual level of story development. Knowledge of story structure apparently plays an important role in children's interpreta- tion and construction of stories (Golden. development of the con- Downloaded from jlr. They leave out details. Elementary grade children in- clude elements incorporated by the younger children plus an increased number of plot episodes and endings with long-range consequences. when role playing stories. and resolutions in their retold stories. 1981. 2016 . similar to their story retellings. by guest on November 26. Dictation of Original Story 137 retold stories. 1980). 1981a). such as plot episodes in which many attempts are made by the main character to attain a goal or solve a problem and endings which include long-range consequences. Experiments in which children were trained in awareness of story schemata through the identification and labeling of struc- tural elements within stories resulted in significantly improved comprehension (Bowman. and lacking cohesiveness. A sense of story structure helps a child know what to expect in a story and what to include in a story (McConaughy. and Burris (1982) found that young children include identifiable elements of story structure in their writing.

1981b). Ornstein & Naus. 1985b). Whaley. Blank and Sheldon (1971) found that the development of syntactic complexity in the oral language of four to six year olds and their semantic recall were both improved when the youngsters had the opportunity to participate during a story reading by repeating sentences after the reader. For story retelling to be included as a regular feature in the instructional Downloaded from jlr. In spite of this. and enhanced the complexity of their oral language. 1978). These treatments include characteristics similar to story retelling. The research discussed thus far has in- cluded treatments that improve comprehension. 1984. asking students to retell stories is not widely practiced in classrooms. however. Research in Retelling Research dealing with verbal rehearsal is limited. have demonstrated improvement in memory and recall (Craik & Watkins. & Wilson. 1976) found that retelling improved comprehension. Retelling and Language Development Research has indicated that involvement in many forms of story telling has improved language growth. 1973. Two other studies that utilized story retelling as an in- dependent variable (Gambrell. 1982. These lead one to expect positive results for children given practice in retelling. few studies can be found that used retelling as the indepen- dent variable. 2016 . Zimiles & Kuhns. Nevertheless. and T-unit output. Morrow (1985) found that the T-unit length and syntactic complexity in children's story retellings significantly improved as a result of guidance and practice in retelling stories.138 Journal of Reading Behavior cept of story for the purpose of improving the structure of their original stories is an important concern for young children as well. Pfeiffer. Retelling stories has been suggested as an instructional technique capable of facilitating the development of various literacy skills (Golden. In a study of role playing with fourth and sixth graders. by guest on November 26. it was found that story retelling by children was not at all common. increased the number of structural elements included in their own retelling of stories. Teachers viewed retelling as time-consuming and difficult for children. and language. sense of story structure. even though it has been found to enhance certain literacy skills. Morrow. A study by Morrow (1985a) indicated that frequent practice and guidance in story retelling with an emphasis on the structural elements in a story improved children's comprehension. Studies in this area. Stewig and Young (1978) found significant growth in children's oral language on such measures as verbal output. In surveys of nursery through third-grade classrooms (Morrow.sagepub. clause output.

Literature selections were based on the following criteria. research must be conducted to assess and demonstrate its educa- tional values (Farrell & Nessel. Dictation of Original Story 139 program. there were 82 children who had been present for all the treatments and for whom complete testing data were available. Do practice and guidance in retelling stories improve a child's ability to dictate original stories by including more structural elements in the narrative? 2. At the end of the study. The six children from each room were then randomly assigned. The purpose of the present study was to determine if frequent practice in retelling stories. All had well-developed story structures with delineated characters. The study took place in the fall when the mean age of the children was 5.sagepub. plot episodes that led to the attainment of the Downloaded from jlr. Children identified as having language disabilities by their teachers were excluded from the study. 22 illustrations.2. The experimental group included 21 girls and 17 boys. clear themes represented in characters faced with problems or goals. three to the experimental and three to the control. definite settings. 38 in the experimental group and 44 in the control. 1982). According to school officials. 2016 . with averages of 27. could improve a child's ability to dictate an original story. socioeconomic levels of the children within the districts ranged from lower middle class to upper middle class. with guidance that focused on the structural framework of those stories. Three boys and three girls were randomly selected from every classroom. Materials Storybooks. and ability level based on standardized test scores ranged from below average to above average. the following questions were asked: 1. They were similar in length. and 880 words. Do practice and guidance in retelling stories increase the T-unit length and syntactic complexity of children's oral language when they dictate original stories. the control group 22 girls and 22 by guest on November 26. The same eight picture storybooks were provided for all classrooms participating in the study. More specifically. METHODS Subjects A total of 82 children participated from 17 kindergarten classrooms all located in different public schools.3 pages.

and posttests. Downloaded from jlr. 2016 . At the first session they reviewed guide-sheets describing the procedures for reading stories and for guiding retellings of those stories. Before the reading.and post-reading discussion format. A different set of figures was used in the pretest and the posttest. Children in the experimental group were asked to retell the story on a one-to-one basis to the student teacher. a home of some type. Procedures Treatment procedures. transcribed. The format for listening to stories was the same for the experimental and the control children. "The title of the story I am going to read to you is (name the ti- tle). pictures from the book were shown to the children. The children were asked to retell the story as if they were telling it to a friend who had never heard it before. and a fictional character such as an elf. The guide-sheet is shown in Figure 1. 140 Journal of Reading Behavior main characters' goals.). a story was read to the class during regular story time. Each student teacher used the same story retelling guide-sheet that provided directions for the instructional phase of the retelling. Children were asked to make up their own original stories for which each child used the same five oak tag figures as story motivators. "Which part of the story did you like best?" The investigator allowed two responses to be presented. an by guest on November 26. After the discussion. and resolutions. children in the control group were asked to draw a picture about the story they had just heard. Seventeen student teachers enrolled in an early childhood education program were assigned to the participating classrooms and carried out the study. The second session involved practicing the treatment with children.1 Test for dictation of original stories. etc. All student teachers were also observed once while administering treatments in their classrooms. The dictated stories were taped. Within a brief pre. the figures included a child. After reading the story. a dog. Children could use all or only some of the figures. and analyzed for inclusion of structural elements and language complexity. a means of transportation. The intent of the guide-sheet was to prompt 1 Treatment book titles are available upon request from the author." During the uninterrupted reading. Students simulated the procedures with each other. This story is about (a boy. All stories involved characters and concepts familiar to kindergartners. the investigator asked. The student teachers who administered the treatments attended two training sessions. For both the pre. the in- vestigator said.sagepub.

with the following dialogue: A." or "Once there was . If the child stops retelling. when necessary. or if his or her retelling lacks se- quence and detail." or "once there was . The following prompts are to be used only when necessary. Each test was concluded when the child indicated he or she had finished telling the story. . "When did the story happen?" (Day. "How did she try to solve her problem? What did she do first/next?" G.and post-dictation of original stories. posttests were administered in the same manner as the pretests. "What was (Name the main character) Jenny's problem in the story?" F. Dictation of Original Story \ 41 the children.and posttest stories were tape recorded. prompt the retelling. When prompts were given they were aimed towards highlighting the structural elements in the by guest on November 26. 1985) Downloaded from jlr. ask a question about the story that is relevant at the stopping point to encourage continuation. When a child is unable to retell the story. The only prompts employed were those listed in Figure 1. "Once upon a time. for example. Pre. Directions for Guiding Retelling (Morrow. before treatments were inititated." B.and posttest procedures. The only prompts employed were those listed in Figure 1. If a child stops retelling and cannot continue with the prompts offered in B. For example. . night. Ask the child to retell the story using the following dialogue: "A little while ago I read a story (Name the story).sagepub. In the eighth week of the study. summer. "How did the story end?" Figure 1. The procedures for guidance in retelling were developed in a pilot study carried out before the major investigation. "What comes next?" or "Then what happened?" C. "How was the problem solved?" H. suggest beginning with "Once upon a time. "What was Jenny's problem?" 3. winter?) D. "What was (name the main character) Jenny's problem in the story?" Guidance was also given to help with sequential order." B. step by step. If the child has difficulty beginning the story. 2016 . "Where did the story happen?" E. administered the pre. "Who was the story about?" C. to tell as much of the story as they could remember. . A. . Those dictations were elicited individually from the students during the first week of the study. The person ad- ministering the tests did not know to which group or condition children had been assigned. Research assistants. encourage continuation by asking. Verbatim transcriptions of the original story dictations provided the corpus of language for determining 1. Both pre. Would you retell the story as if you were telling it to a friend who has never heard it before?" 2. other than the student teachers.

practice sessions were held for scoring the dictations. In the present study. one point would be awarded. resolution) received one point. "gist" was defined as an element mentioned but with only loose fit in a category. The sum of the five categories evaluated'equals the total story dictation score. they were evaluated for sequence. For example. To adjust maximum raw scores to equal 10 in each category. The procedure for analyzing dictations was adapted from scoring procedures of story structure discussed by Mandler and Johnson (1977). Story dictations were analyzed for the inclusion of story structure elements and oral language complexity. no points were awarded. Therefore. andThorndyke (1977). T-unit length. In scoring this area. If elements were not included in an original story dictation. one half point was awarded.sagepub. plot episodes. Story grammars have been devised from the analyses of written folk and fairy tales. plot episodes. if the child mentioned a place where the story happened. and resolution. plot episodes. raw scores were placed over maximum scores and multiplied by 10. each structural element in se- quential order (setting. resolution. After the stories were analyzed for inclusion of structural elements. When analyzing the transcriptions for story structure elements. If the "gist" of an element was represented. in the setting category. and se- quential order. theme. blind to the treatment of the tests they were grading. Downloaded from jlr. Using the form shown in Figure 2. a simplified procedure which could be easily utilized by teachers for evaluating dictations was developed.for the following reasons. In order to familiarize the evaluators with the scoring procedures. Stein and Glenn (1979). Rumelhart (1975). theme. defining the "gist" of an element as partial recall. Pilot analyses of stories dic- tated by five. theme. In the present story dictations. 142 Journal of Reading Behavior the structural elements included in the stories. evaluators looked for the inclusion of setting.and six-year-old children indicated that existing descriptions of story grammar procedure were complicated to use and in many cases not ap- plicable to children's retellings. the more general adaptation was devised to deal with the data at hand. The adapta- tion was used. evaluated the transcriptions of the original story dicta- tions. modern children's literature was used for the treatment stories and analyses were done on childrens' dictations of their original stories. 2016 . the dictations were parsed into four scoreable segments: setting. First. No points were received if elements were missing or out of order. Figure 2 provides this procedure. Six research assistants. by guest on November 26. one point was awarded when children men- tioned elements that fit within each of the subcategories of the four structural units. Pelligrini and Galda (1982) and Thorndyke (1977) give credit for "gist" in scoring children's story retelling. Scoring procedures. and syntactic complexity.

place the total raw score over the maximum raw score and multiply that by ten. The four categories of story structure are presented in sequential order (setting.) raw scores 1. One point is given for each one in order. A beginning initiating event occurs that causes the main character to react B. An event or series of events are mentioned that relate to the main character B. Setting (maximum raw score 4) A. theme. An event or series of events occur that lead the main character toward solving the problem or reaching the goal of the story total total adjusted score 4. The time of the story is mentioned D. resolution). Sequence (maximum raw score 4) A. Theme (maximum raw score 2) A. Resolution (maximum raw score 3) A. 2016 . Room Pre-test Score Posttest Score _ _ _ _ _ (Place one point next to the element if the child includes it in the dictation. Plot Episodes (maximum raw score 2) A. total total adjusted score 6. To adjust scores to equal 10 in each of the five main categories. assign no points if not included.sagepub. The ending carries long-range consequences total total adjusted score 5. An event or series of events occur that lead the main character toward solving the problem or reaching the goal of the story total total adjusted score 3. plot episodes. Dictation of Original Story 143 Child's Name Age Sex . The story starts with a beginning statement B. place a Vi point if the "gist" is included. Evaluating Dictations of Original Stories Downloaded from jlr. One or more central characters emerges and assumes a main role throughout the story C. Total Story Dictation adjusted score Figure 2. The main character solves the problem or attains the goal by guest on November 26. The location of the story is mentioned total total adjusted score 2. The story is ended with an ending statement C.

com by guest on November 26. To find the syntactic complexity count for a group of sentences. To determine reliability of these analyses. and Granowsky (BDG) (1972) formula of syntactic complexity was also used to analyze pre. it may be equal to either a simple or a complex sentence. 1965. as shown in Figure 3. Thus. The transcribed story dictations were divided into Junks. . The dictated originial stories from the pre. & Norris. The Botel. and .and posttest dictations. . evaluators independently scored the same 12 story dictations. Mean correlation among their calculations was . 2016 . 144 Journal of Reading Behavior To determine reliability. The school variable was included to determine Downloaded from jlr.93 for setting scores. 1978. Mean correlation among evaluators was . or 3-. Weights for elements in the formula were determined through the investigation of language studies indicating the frequency of usage of structures in the language of children and from experimental findings that indicated the difficulty children have in processing specific syntactic structures. Hunt (1965) describes the Tunit as an independent clause with all of its subordinate clauses attached. The BDG for- mula which is based upon transformational grammar theory analyzes language by identifying elements of syntax and assigning each one a weight.90 for plot episode scores. O'Donnell. 2-.90 for total dictation scores. designate relative difficulty of each language element. . the average of total sentence counts is calculated to indicate the syntactic complexity for the corpus of language those sentences comprise.86 for sequence scores. Griffin. Total numbers of words per T unit in the pre. . The same evaluators analyzed 25 T units from the transcriptions and calculated a syntactic com- plexity count according to the BDG procedure.88 for theme scores. Treatment (experimental or control) was the primary independent variable and school was also included as an independent variable resulting in a two-way analysis of variance. The weights of 0-. Correlation among evaluators on the number of T units segmented was . Length of T unit is considered a reliable measure of language com- plexity based on developmental studies of oral language (Hunt.90 for resolution scores. Then. Morrow. 1-. 1967). They each in- dependently segmented every sample into T units.92. Dawkins. Data Analysis An analysis of covariance was conducted for the total original story dicta- tions.sagepub.90. the research assistants trained in the segmentation of language into T units were given five samples of unpunc- tuated language obtained from original story transcriptions. but a compound sentence is by definition made up of two or more Tunits. and syntactic com- plexity.and posttests were evaluated for two oral language measures: average length per Tunit.and posttests were recorded for analysis. the counts per ele- ment within each sentence are totaled first.

participle position) Joined by and f. possessives 4. interrogative b.. Conjunctive d. imperative determiners 5. Paired c.-verb-obj. Dictation of Original Story 145 O-Count 1-Count 2-Count 3-Count Structures Structures Structures Structures 1.-verb-adj. Summary of BDG Syntactic Complexity Count (Botel. Subj.) complement d. coordinate clause joined by but. Coordinate Clauses e. paired coordinates Figure 3. adverbials 7. Granowsky.-verb-infinitive 3.-verb-indirect as a subject b. Passive 1. subj.) a. Other Modifiers a. Clause used a. deletion in the coordinate clause c. so. prepositional phrase 6. obj. 3. for. set expressions Adverbs e. 2016 . Noun Modifiers Clause 2. Sentence Patterns 1. quantitative c.sagepub. infinitives f. Appositives b. Absolute (noun. Comparatives b. Sentence Patterns 1. adv. Dependent by guest on November 26. negatives 8. exclamatory c. gerund used as a subject 4. The comparability of the experimental and control groups was demonstrated by the similarity between them on the pretest means for the dependent variables. or. Simple Transformations a. Participles (not d. subj. adj. pre-determiners used in the adj. modals c. Non-Sentence as Subjects Expressions 3. adjective a. Dawkins. Coordinates a.-be-complement b. Infinitives 4. yet b.. 2. subj. might interact with the treatment conditions to influence outcomes. subj. subj. Conjunction 2. The pretest treatment differences for story dictation and Downloaded from jlr. 1972) whether differences among schools. due to teacher programs or children's characteristics (other than their pretest performance).-verb (adv.-obj.

RESULTS Story Structure The posttest mean score for the experimental group on total story dicta- tions was 23. however. 61) = 9. This in- dicates that whatever conditions differed systematically between schools did not interact with the treatment to influence outcomes.54 (p < .22) indicating that there was little systematic relation between entry proficiency of students and how much they gained.sagepub. The main effect for school was significant. or the quality of story reading prior to the treatment. School differences might reflect other conditions such as socioeconomic factors. resulting in a two-way analysis of variance with the pretest measure as a covariate. Treatment (ex- perimental or control) and school served as the independent variables.62 (p < . were statistically significant (p < . plot episodes. Downloaded from jlr. F{16.02 {SD. theme.87).146 Journal of Reading Behavior language complexity were nonsignificant. resolution. and sequence. This means that school differences existed in improvement in story structure for control and experimental groups combined. The pretest on the total story dictation served as the covariate in order to control for initial differences among school samples in story dictation proficiency. 61) = 5. the general quality of the instructional program. Analyses of covariance were also conducted for the two language out- come measures: T-unit length and syntactic by guest on November 26. Since a significant treatment effect occurred. Preliminary calculations indicated that the assumptions embodied in the covariance model were satisfied.05). Pretest differences for schools.46) and for the control 19.75 (SD. The correlation between school gain scores and performance on the pretest was low {r = 0. The interaction between treatment and school was not significant. Further analyses of school group means were undertaken in order to see if these differences were systematic. none of which were measured in this research. Table 1 presents the posttest means and stan- dard deviations for each of the component measures: setting. 2016 .05). F(l. post hoc analyses were undertaken for each of the components of the total story dictation to see where significant changes had occurred. even with entry scores covaried. 5. 6. The analysis of variance for the total story dictation scores on the posttests indicated that the experimental group scored significantly better than the control.01).

82 Sequence 4. F\\.84 (p < . F{\. the ex- perimental group performed significantly better than the control group in the areas of setting.22 Plot Episodes 4.69* 1.38* . Interaction effects were not significant.41 *p < .28 3.36 1.34 2.84 1. but interaction effects were not. and a max- imum of 50 for total story dictation.sagepub.39 1.02).11 3.05). Table 1 Posttest Means and Standard Deviations for Story Dictation Analysis3 Condition Story Dictation Experimental Control0 Analysis Mean SD Mean SD Setting 5. Analysis for the average syntactic complexity count did not demonstrate a difference between experimental and control groups.11 Resolution 4.21 (p < . Again there was a signifi- cant main effect for school.05). 61) = 5. Analysis showed a significantly greater T-unit length for the experimental group over the control group.09 1.14 (p < .05 for difference of posttest by guest on November 26.87 .02 4. Results in all categories show a greater improvement between pre- and posttests for the experimental group. F{1. 61) = 6. 61) = 5.62 Theme 4. c n = 44. and plot episodes.05). Language Variables Table 2 presents the means for each of the language dependent variables on the pre. 61) = 5. Examination of the means for school groups suggests that the differences are not systematic.02). Downloaded from jlr. F(16. 2016 . b n = 38.and posttests.81 3.09 . 61) = 5.72 . F(16.54 4. a Maximum of 10 points could be received in each of the story dictation categories.02 (p < . school differences were significant. As in previous analyses. Dictation of Original Story 147 When the categories of story structure were considered separately. though only two are statistically significant.89 (p < .

05 1.sagepub. Several factors could account for the positive results. a n = 38.148 Journal of Reading Beha vior Table 2 Post test Means and Standard Deviations for Oral Language Complexity Analysis Language Complexity Experimental3 Control" Analysis Mean SD Mean SD Average length per Tunit 5. the retelling experience allowed for active involvement and close supportive interactions with adults that quite possibly reinforced expectations and performance among the youngsters involved. These findings are consistent with other study results (Blank & Sheldon.06 *p < . While the experimental group improved significantly over the control group in story dictation. 1982).05 for difference of posttest means. b n = by guest on November 26. There were minor improvements in the areas of theme. And. Retelling appears to be a generative learning strategy that has direct beneficial consequences on children's creation of original stories through the opportunity to use and model oral language from pieces of children's literature. According to Vygotsky (1962). and se- Downloaded from jlr. post hoc analyses revealed that the inclusion of infor- mation about setting and plot was responsible for the general improvement. The retelling ex- perience described in this study utilized these conditions for learning.35 1.94* 1. more generally. 1971.1 . learning occurs in a social context through guided performance of emerging skills.23 5. resolution. Guidance during the retelling treatments emphasized structural elements in stories.12 Syntactic Complexity Count 1. DISCUSSION The results of the study indicate that frequent practice and guidance in story retelling had a positive effect on improving children's oral dictation of original stories.2 . which they were then able to internalize and transfer into their dictation of original stories. This type of em- phasis seemed to provide children with an improved awareness for some of these elements. This improvement was demonstrated by increased use of structural elements and increased T-unit length in the language used in the story dictations. 2016 . Pellegrini & Galda.

2016 . particularly in the areas of setting and plot. Interviews with teachers after the conclusion of the study revealed some interesting anecdotal reports worth appending to the empirical results. it can be concluded that no school conditions biased the results of the instructional treatment. the BDG formula for syntactic com- plexity showed no difference between the groups. Morrow (1985a) found that story retelling and comprehension scores also showed a positive relationship. Thus. These differences occurred in spite of the covariation of pretest measures. but also can improve ability to retell stories generally. In all analyses. guided story instruction may not be as effective in developing theme.sagepub. and in sentence complexity as measured by T units. However. In one of the two analyses of oral language. Dictation of Original Story 149 quence. the experimental group showed improvement over the control. and to nurture growth in language ability. resolution. Although there were significant differences found between the experimen- tal and control groups on T-unit length. it appears that the T-unit measure was more sensitive to the change that occurred in the story dictation language than was the BDG formula. there was a significant main effect for the school variable. There was only a slight but nonsignificant tendency for able groups to show more improvement on the dependent measures than less able groups. That is. 1978). There was a significant improvement in both 7"-unit length and syntactic complexity. While the teachers involved felt before the study that most children did not know how to engage in story retelling or dictation of original stories. Stewig & Young. Those demonstrated improvements would apparently support the argument that retelling stories not only can enhance awareness of structural elements within stories that leads in turn to improved dictations of original stories. none of the interaction effects between treatment and school was significant. to comprehend stories. the measurement of T-unit length. Because of the different findings among the language measures in this investigation and with others. and sequence in kindergartners' dictations. In a previous study. A previous study by Morrow (1985) investigated the language development in children's story retelling after eight retelling treatments. the guided story instruction was generally more effective than the con- trol in story retelling. Thus. 1971. In this by guest on November 26. additional work in studying the syntactic complexity in dictation of original stories is warranted. the youngsters Downloaded from jlr. It is possible that a common factor is responsible for all such gains. it appears that guided story instruction can improve kindergart- ners' skill in dictating stories by making them more aware of the setting and the plot. More important for the purposes of this study. This finding supports the results of related studies concerning the improvement of language through the medium of stories (Blank & Sheldon.

(1978). The effects of story structure questioning upon reading comprehen- sion. Paper presented at the meeting of American Educational Research Association. (1966). Bower. March/April). M. 28. A. Dawkins. by guest on November 26. & Vukelich. C. (1976). Chicago. Los Angeles.. (1972). Reading Teacher. This study. Children's concept of story in reading and writing. F. Word weaving. & Sheldon.. read later.. Story recall in kindergarten children: Effect of method of presen- tation on psycholinguistic performance. J. Childhood Education. Morrow. M. (1981. reconstruction and recall of narrative sequences of preoperational children. Cohen.150 Journal of Reading Behavior in the experimental group demonstrated an ability to approach those tasks at the end of the study with a strategy for proceeding with confidence and with a desire to do so. Durkin. 46. The Quarterly Journal of Ex- perimental Psychology.sagepub. children in the experimental groups participated in story telling more often than did children in the control groups. REFERENCES Applebee. J.. I. A child's concept of story. Portland. Botel. 1985. Craik. J. 155-166. Gambrell. 216-220.. during free-play periods. Paper presented at the National Conference on Language Arts. F. Brown. & Wilson. 511-534. From words to text: The development of writing in young children. The role of rehearsal in short term memory. A Storytelling Project of the Zellerbach Family Fund and the San Francisco Educational Fund (Booklet). Experiments on story understanding and recall. Pfeiffer. Child Development. J. (1971). (1981. They told stories to other children and initiated role playing based on stories. Journal of Ver- bal Learning and Verbal Behavior. & Watkins. CA. 2016 . D. G. Golden. Bowman. Syntactic complexity—Analyzing it and measuring it. along with related work (Gambrell. 45. Further. L. 37. M. Pfeiffer. & Granowsky. Chomsky. (1982). Blank. Farrell. (1968). (1972). 42. Children who read early: Two longitudinal studies. April). Recognition. N. (1975). 12. D. 199-213.. 296-299. (1985. C. C.. Training and opportunities to retell stories should not be ignored when so many skills are enhanced through their use. & Wilson R. 578-584. offers empirical and anecdotal support for the educational value of having children retell stories.. 217. Child Development. Elementary English. The effects of retelling upon reading comprehension and recall of text information. D. W. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania. Downloaded from jlr. 209-213. Golden. The effect of literature on vocabulary and reading achievement. New York: Teachers Col- lege Press. Write now. A. 599-607. Journal of Educational Research. & Nessel. M. 47. (1984). (1973). OR. Effects of storytelling: An ancient art for modern classrooms. 1985a). April). IL: University of Chicago Press.

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M. AUTHOR NOTE I thank the 17 teachers and their school districts that allowed the study to be carried out in their classrooms. (Research report 134. July). Washington. C.. J. 2016 . Merrill.). & Kuhns. Appreciation is extended to the student teachers who administered the treatments for the research. New York: Academic- Press. (1974). Learning as a generative process. and analyze the data. I thank Dr. Educational by guest on November 26. gratitude is extended to the research assistants who helped to prepare the materials. Neuropsychological and cognitive processes in reading (pp. Reading comprehension. Downloaded from jlr. Wittrock. 87-95. 229-259).sagepub. In addition. (1976. C. Diagnostic and remedial reading for classroom and clinic. Columbia. H. M. (1981). C. 11. In F. carry out testing. Zimiles. Wittrock (Eds.152 Journal of Reading Beha vior Wilson. Wittrock. Jeffrey Smith and Dr. final report. OH: Charles E. New York: Bank Street College of Education. DC ED-160978. National Institute of Education). (1981). M. Pirozzolo & M. M. Neil Weinstein for their help with the statistical analysis. A developmental study of the retention of narrative material. R.