In her article entitled “Listening and Reading Comprehension at Story Time: How to Build Habits of the Mind”, Mary Ruth Moore discusses the need for an “active process” (24) between teacher and students during story time in early childhood education. Moore encourages several different ways this interaction can take place. Teachers can engage their young readers through methods like alerting children to story structure, using graphic organizers, and asking skillful questions throughout the entirety of the story and even before it begins. According to her research, directing students in this way will help the students to build what she calls “habits of the mind” (24).
These include children’s ability to “attend to what is important, anticipate what is to come, and build meaningful patterns from the many details” (24). According to Moore, teaching children how to interact with stories in this way can help them to understand the stories that they hear in the classroom and eventually read on their own. The term for this type of storytelling is often referred to as “interactive shared book reading” (25), another way to describe read-aloud stories. This method of teaching can help students to learn new vocabulary, identify problems and solutions in the story, and recognize the many different patterns that appear in the story. According to research, “open-ended questions prompt thought and language development” (27), another plus for young students.
Moore has made applying these strategies to my own classroom very easy because she gives several instances of possibilities using the book Sit, Truman! as an example. One thing I can do to promote the understanding of stories to my students is to ask questions as I go along. According to the article, “A teacher’s questions help children build understanding. Open-ended questions can be embedded in the discussion of story grammar and graphic organizers” (26). One example of a graphic organizer given by Moore is a T-Chart. At the top of the page, a question is presented with two possible answers in the columns. Each student can pick which answer they believe is right.
Moore explains that “not only do the children get the benefit of making a T-chart, they are also encouraged to read their own name” (28). Another way to teach children about understanding stories is to discuss story structure. For example, asking children what the problem in the story is will help them to recognize that most stories typically contain both a problem and a solution in the plot. At the end, students can be asked how the problem was solved. Highlighting these parts of the story will eventually help the child to understand that there are structural patterns that can be found within most stories.
The research that the author used can be found throughout the article. She draws on research done in groups such as the National Early Literacy Panel and the National Reading Panel. She also discusses research articles from popular education journals such as Early Childhood Education Journal and Educational Researcher. Additionally, she compares this learning approach to Vygotsky’s emphasis on the zone of proximal development. She explains that “sharing a story in this way, the adult scaffolds the children’s experience, leading them to an understanding they could not achieve on their own” (25). Clearly, Moore has done her research on this subject.
Finally, it is also not difficult to assume the purpose for the writing of this article: Moore is trying to spread the word about how teachers can help their students to better understand the stories that they read by using interactive reading. It is her ultimate goal to improve early child education by showing teachers how to use this method in a variety of ways.