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Literacy and narrative in the early years: Zooming in and zooming out

University of Waikato research team:Amanda Bateman and Margaret Carr
University of Otago research team: Alex Gunn and Elaine Reese

Project Dates: 2014 - 2017

Partnerships: University of Otago

This Teaching and Learning Research Initiative funded project is about exploring and strengthening young children's storytelling expertise. We aim to learn more about young children's capacity to tell stories, beginning in early childhood and through to the early school years. Researchers from the University of Waikato and Otago University will each follow a group of children during their final year of early childhood education through to their early school years to see how they engage in storytelling and what assists them to do this. Participating teachers, family members and university researchers will contribute to the development of this research, regularly discussing together the findings. In this way we aim to further the theoretical knowledge in both the literacy field and the field of participatory research. At the same time the project will provide practical ideas, linked to valuable purposes, for practitioners. The research project outcomes in this proposed project will: a) inform and strengthen pedagogies for literacy learning in early years education, and b) influence literacy outcomes in early years settings, across early childhood and primary school sectors.

Project Update

AB-Literacy & Narrative Proj "From our preliminary findings we see there are similarities and differences between the ways literacy and narrative are supported in the 2 early years environments at kindergarten and school".

What has changed?

Our 12 participating children have now transitioned to primary schools, so we now have seven primary school teachers who have joined the project – three primary teachers on the North Island site (across two schools) and four primary teachers on the South Island site (across four schools).

What is new?

  1. People: the availability and levels of engagement from teachers and peers helped to co-produce storytelling and literacy practices such as book making in structured and informal ways through joint engagement.
  2. Things: the availability of objects such as storytelling shells (shells with pictures on them), ipads, toy figures and resources for book making worked as physical props to support storytelling narratives and literacy learning.
  3. Places: the availability of people and things in various places impacts on the support of both structured and informal narrative storytelling and literacy learning. This is particularly observable now that our children have transitioned from kindergarten to school.
Project Highlights

A particular highlight for the project is that all our children have now transitioned to their primary schools, and that all of these primary schools have agreed to participate in our project. This means that we can map the literacy and narrative experiences of all of our participating children, revealing insights such as the following:

From our preliminary findings we see there are similarities and differences between the ways literacy and narrative are supported in the 2 early years environments at kindergarten and school. Techniques, or teaching strategies for supporting literacy and narrative often involved collaborative 'telling' of story narratives in kindergarten setting where teachers provided ideas, prompts and props for children's narrative and literacy activities. In the school settings we see that support for narrative and literacy activities are still evident, although in different ways to help transition the different types of learning needed in a school context. These school supports included such embodied techniques as 'roboting' for reading difficult words, sounding first letters, pointing to each word when reading it, and "say it, hear it and write the sounds down" strategies.

What is next?

Milestone 7 (30 September 2015): Reports on:
1) First school video data collection: the observations are shifting to the contributing schools
2) Discussions with classroom teachers: Design Four confirmed

Project Outputs & Publications

Publications:
Bateman, A. and Carr, M. (forthcoming, 2016). 'Pursuing a telling: Managing a multi-unit turn in children's storytelling' in A. Bateman and A. Church (Eds.) Children and knowledge: Studies in conversation analysis. Springer

Conference presentation:
Bateman, A., Gunn, A., Carr, M., and Reese, E. (2015). Literacy and narrative in the early years: Zooming in and zooming out. Paper presented at NZARE EC SIG, Wellington, New Zealand, 15th May 2015.

Conferences:
Bateman, A., Gunn, A., Carr, M., and Reese, E. (2015). Literacy and narrative in the early years: Zooming in and zooming out. Paper presented at NZARE EC SIG, Wellington, New Zealand, 15th May 2015.
Gunn, A., Bateman, A., Carr, M., and Reese, E. (2015). Reporting to children about research involving them. Paper presented at EECERA, Crete, Greece, 9th September 2014.

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