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Using storytelling to improve literacy learning.

Woman leading storytime with young childrenOverview

Children aged 6-12 years old will be motivated to create narrative stories using the power of storytelling, including the most reluctant writers, as they are encouraged to use all forms of writing using props, pictures and conventional writing.

From the moment children enter kindergarten until their last exam in high school, children are assessed on the writing ability. New York address the importance of literacy with standards for proficiency. In 2018, 50.3% of Sunset Park 4th graders performed at grade level in English language arts, compared to 51.4% in Brooklyn, and 49% citywide. Although progress has been made, 49.7% of neighborhood children are below standards for proficiency. Parents and caregivers who visit the branch consistently request assistance for their children in the area of writing, especially for the school testing.

Storytelling inspires strong writers.  Storytelling is the oldest form of communication.  Cultures have preserved their history, wisdom and cultural norms through storytelling (Koki, 1998). Through the development of a six-week storytelling program, children of diverse cultures and languages in Sunset Park, ages 6-12 will develop and improve their story writing skills. This program will allow children to express who they are, and pass down cultural knowledge. This program will give children the tools to promote collaboration and imagination. Working with children, oral language is seen first, then the expression of language in drawings, and written language comes last. Children who can tell a story can craft a stronger written product.

Desired Outcome

Children will be given an attitude scale which will determine how they feel about writing. Whether or not they like writing, find it boring, have trouble thinking about what to write or wish they had more time to write. The children’s work would then be evaluated using a rubric that measures character, setting, problem, plot, conclusion, vocabulary and sentence structure. The same rubric would then be used to evaluate their writing at the end of each week, measuring enjoyment, engagement and skills. The pre-sample and final writing sample would be the measure used to determine the success of the program. Through observation of two thirty-minute writing periods, every 5 minutes we could determine if children are writing, not writing or writing collaboratively. This will also allow us to measure improvement of reluctance to write. The storytelling workshop by professional storyteller would take place between the observations.

This proposal was prepared for the Sunset Park Library.

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