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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Claire Hamilton, PhD

Second Advisor

Denise Ives, PhD

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Education | Pre-Elementary, Early Childhood, Kindergarten Teacher Education | Teacher Education and Professional Development


ABSTRACT YOUNG CHILDREN POSITIONED AS STORYTELLERS IN THE CLASSROOM: AN EXAMINATION OF TEACHER-CHILD INTERACTIONS AND THE STORYTELLING EVENT SEPTEMBER 2016 PEGGY MARTALOCK, B.A., UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN MADISON M.A. UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN LACROSSE Ed.D., UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS AMHERST Directed by: Professor Claire E. Hamilton Responsive, well-attuned, sensitive, dynamic, and individual interactions between teachers and children in early childhood classrooms support language and literacy development. This study looks at the nature and qualities of teacher – child interactions during Vivian Paley’s storytelling approach when implemented as a curricular activity. This is a microethnographic study conducted from a socio-cultural theoretical framework of two early childhood classrooms (one PreK and one K) in a large urban school in the northeast United States. Both teachers were participating in a professional development initiative through the school district to implement Paley’s storytelling approach. Two teachers and 23 children participated in this nine-month study. Three main research questions frame this study: (a) What are the specific contextual markers that frame a storytelling event?; (b) What are the nature and qualities of adult – child interactions during the storytelling activities?; and (c) How do the participants perceive the storytelling interactions? Analysis shows that contextual markers, such as conversational cues and turn-taking are consistent and similar in both classrooms. Broader structures of implementing the approach, such as timing and frequency, vary widely between the classrooms. Nature and qualities of the interactions and participants’ perceptions are similar and consistent for both classrooms. Research shows that fidelity to protocols across classrooms for curricular activities such as dialogic or interactive reading does not guarantee similar qualities of the teacher – child interactions. This research shows that when there is not fidelity to a curricular protocol, in this case the storytelling approach, there may still be similarities and consistencies in the nature and qualities of the teacher – child interactions. Themes running throughout the data include, autonomy, listening, and the participants’ perceptions of the storytelling event as a time and activity that feels qualitatively different than other daily curricular activities. Implications to consider include the structuring of professional development for Paley’s storytelling approach as well as the relationship between the underlying pedagogical stance of a curricular approach and individual teachers’ pedagogical stance.