Early Childhood Literacy

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    • 00:11

      SIMON BROWNHILL: Hello.My name is Dr. Simon Brownhill.I'm a senior teaching associate herein the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge.And the focus of this tutorial todayfocuses on early childhood literacy,with a focus on writing, particularly story writing.It's well publicized that there are concerning standardsof literacy attainment in young children, particularlywhen we focus on their writing capabilities.

    • 00:36

      SIMON BROWNHILL [continued]: One of the difficulties is that children struggleto understand how a story is structured--how it is put together.They never actually see a real writer actuallywriting a story.The strategy I'd like to share with you todayis called a Story Stepper, which isan adaptation of a resource developedby Pie Corbett, the Story Mountain.

    • 00:56

      SIMON BROWNHILL [continued]: And this serves as a visual planner whichcan be used by professionals to help childrenunderstand how stories are created.What I'd like to do is to show you the Story Stepperand how it works.And then share with you some features of adaptationwhich you can use in your own classroom.For the purposes of the tutorial,I'm defining early childhood as naught to eight,and I believe that this strategy is particularlyuseful for those that work with childrenaged between four and eight.

    • 01:23

      SIMON BROWNHILL [continued]: The Story Stepper is based on a seriesof steps which helped to break the story into separate parts.So if we draw a simple set of stairswe can use these to help us to create the story.

    • 01:46

      SIMON BROWNHILL [continued]: So we know that when a story is constructed it has an opening.It has, typically, a buildup.There are some problems which are-- form parts of the story.There's also a resolution to the story.

    • 02:06

      SIMON BROWNHILL [continued]: And finally there is an ending.Now what we can do is use these five parts on the Story Stepperto help us model the creation of a story.So for example, an invented story-- storytitle-- The Wizard in Granny's Garden.If we take the opening, we could say a character called Max,and Max is going to visit his gran.

    • 02:30

      SIMON BROWNHILL [continued]: So I'm just going to draw gran's hair there.So we have the story opening.We know that Max is going to go to his gran's.And the buildup to the story is that he goes into the garden.So he goes through the door.When he goes into the garden, who does he meet?But he meets a wizard.

    • 02:53

      SIMON BROWNHILL [continued]: So we're building up the story.But we're building up to the problem.So when Max has gone into the garden, he's seen wizard.The wizard turns him into a butterfly.So Max is flying around.But there has to be some sort of problem.And that problem is that he gets caught up in a spider's web.

    • 03:16

      SIMON BROWNHILL [continued]: Now the further problem which gives excitement to the story,is that there is a spider who has clearly seen Maxand considers him to be his next meal.Now obviously, for a satisfactory story,we need to have some sort of resolution.How is Max going to get out of this situation?

    • 03:38

      SIMON BROWNHILL [continued]: Well we can use the wizard.Because with his magic wand he can use his magicto make the spider disappear.But the story has to have an ending.The ending being that the wizard turns Max back into himself,as the boy, and then he can go home for a drink.

    • 04:01

      SIMON BROWNHILL [continued]: So we've got a very basic, simple storywhich shows the key five components of the storyand uses the Stepper to help us breakthe story into separate sections.Now the Story Stepper is valuablebecause it can be used in a variety of different ways.The way that I've modeled it to you here, very crudely,is by the use of pictures, which isvery useful for young children whenthey are starting to create their own story.

    • 04:29

      SIMON BROWNHILL [continued]: So you could give children just the simple Stepperon which they could physically draw their own imagesand shapes to represent the different aspects of the story.We know that to help children with story writing it'svery important that speaking and listeningare an integral part of the writing process.

    • 04:50

      SIMON BROWNHILL [continued]: So the model is very valuable in the sensethat when children create their own stories using thisas a visual planner, they can verbalize the story,talking through each part of it so they know what's coming.We also know that the ending of children's storiesare typically weak.The story planner is very valuablebecause it makes the children actuallyplan the ending of the story so they know how it will finish,rather than it being, "and then they woke up"or "they went home."There are different ways that the Story Stepper can be used.

    • 05:21

      SIMON BROWNHILL [continued]: I've used pictures.You could use key words.You could use phrases.You could use sentences if you wanted to.And these could be presented on each stepor inside the Stepper, if you want.Another way of using the Story Stepperis to put the images or keywords or phrases on a storythat you have created yourself.

    • 05:43

      SIMON BROWNHILL [continued]: And that these could be mixed up on the Story Stepper,allowing the children to work out what the problem iswith the story and move the parts-- if they're presentedon Post-It notes-- so that they can reconstruct the story.The Story Stepper also helps childrento be creative by changing elements,so that it doesn't have to be gran that Max visits.

    • 06:04

      SIMON BROWNHILL [continued]: It could be granddad.It could be somebody else.He might not go into a garden.He might go into the attic.Who does he meet?It doesn't have to be the wizard.It could be somebody else.So by providing children with a basic structurethey can manipulate different elementsto create their own story.I hope you find that the Story Stepper isa useful visual resource.It can be used by teachers in a whole-class situation.

    • 06:26

      SIMON BROWNHILL [continued]: Or it can be used with ability groups when doing guided work.Or it can be for independent work if they want to.I personally used it with a whole class,and also have given children matsthat have a story planner already presented on it,so that the children can physicallywrite with dry wipe pens to createtheir own story before they commit it to paper.

    • 06:46

      SIMON BROWNHILL [continued]: I hope that it's considered to be useful to you.And it's always important to adapt the strategyto the needs of the children that you work with.If you found this strategy useful,there are plenty more available in this, published by Sage.It's called Getting Children Writing by Simon Brownhill.And it's full of practical ideas and strategies,just like the Story Stepper, which professionalscan use in their own classrooms.

Early Childhood Literacy

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Abstract

In this tutorial, Dr. Simon Brownhill, Senior Teaching Associate at the University of Cambridge, introduces the Story Stepper Model. Brownhill explains the different ways to use this model and the value the model has to childhood learning.

SAGE Video Tutorials
Early Childhood Literacy

In this tutorial, Dr. Simon Brownhill, Senior Teaching Associate at the University of Cambridge, introduces the Story Stepper Model. Brownhill explains the different ways to use this model and the value the model has to childhood learning.

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