- School/institution: PSISE Madrid, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
- Country: Spain
- Source: Iandolo G. (2011). El desarrollo de las competencias narrativas, forma, cohesión y equilibrio de contenido a través del Test Proyectivo de la Familia de los Osos. Tesis Doctoral. Universidad Autónoma de Madrid pp. 173-193.
- Age of children: 5 to 12 years old.
Main characteristics of the practice
Analysis of thirty-two stories carried out in collaborative groups by Spanish children, from the last year of pre-primary education to sixth grade. The participants realized their narrations in two sessions repeated at a distance of one year, using two standard situations, adaptations of the Projective Test of the Bear Family. The results indicate that the discussion of the group history and its final exposure to the class constitute effective methods of cognitive and relational stimulation. Group stories develop progressively with age, as well as the attribution of physical and mental states to the characters in the story. In addition, they present equal or higher scores with respect to the individual stories of children of the same age.
General goal of the practice and specific objectives
The objective of the study was to analyze the cooperative narration of a school sample of Spanish children from third to pre-primary school.
- Evaluate the temporal evolution of the group’s interaction, of the formal and content aspects of the story, as well as the presence of verbs that express physical and mental states of the characters in the story.
- Compare the group stories of the current study with the individual narratives of the reference sample of the Bear Family Project Project, in which the stories of children of the same age were analyzed through a similar procedure.
The total duration of the investigation was one year (two repeated meetings, at a distance of one year). Each encounter lasted approximately 90 minutes.
Tables grouped in groups of 4 desks inside the classroom, at a sufficient distance to avoid interruptions and distractions between the groups during the stage of story-making.
Description of procedures and methodology
Sixty-four children from two concerted schools in the Community of Madrid. The sample was composed of 4 school classes:
- “Group G1” of the third child-school (5-6 years);
- “Group G2” of first and second grade of primary school (6-7 years);
- “Group G3” of third and fourth grade (8-9 years);
- “Group G4” of fifth and sixth grade (10-11 years).
Groups G1 and G3 belonged to a school in the southern part of the Community of Madrid while groups G2 and G4 belonged to a school in the northern area of the same Community.
The participation of the children was voluntary and, at the end of the meetings, they were given a certificate of thanks. For the entire investigation process, the ethical norms corresponding to the type of procedure and population were followed.
School classes (G1, G2, G3, G4) were initially divided into five subgroups. Of the five initial subgroups, only four of each class (G1, G2, G3, G4) were included in the study sample, according to a pre-established criterion. This criterion was based on the diversification of the gender of the members of the subgroups and on the typicality of their reading skills.
In each class (G1, G2, G3, G4) four subgroups were selected: two formed by two men and two women, one of three men and one woman, and the last, of three women and one man.
A further criterion of inclusion in the sample was that the members of each subgroup did not present learning difficulties or behavioural problems in class. This last aspect was evaluated through a teacher interview and a school observation session.
To stimulate children’s stories, two narrative tasks were presented to the classes (G1, G2, G3, G4, each divided into four subgroups): the “Family of the Kings” and the “Family of the Martians.”
As in the Bear Family Test, in these two group narrative tasks there are eight characters (dad, mom, son, daughter, healing character, a normative character, two companion animals) contextualized in two main places (inside and exterior of the house / kingdom / planet). As in the Bear Family, children have an initial ten minutes to think about a story. Then, in the final five-minute phase, the group representative is asked to tell the whole class the story thought with a beginning, a central part and an end.
Constitution of the groups and explanation of the task
Phase 1. The administrator introduces himself to the class, explains that he will ask them to divide into groups of four (with the help of the teacher) placing the tables so that they form a square, so that the members of each group can see their faces and talk .
Phase 2. The administrator places on the board the drawing of the Family of the Kings (first meeting) or the Family of the Martians (second meeting).
Phase 3. The administrator gives each group an audio recorder and invites each child to say their name.
Phase 4. The administrator explains the task and says: “It is time to tell a story. Think about how you can invent a story about the Family of Kings (or Martians). We will use these materials to help us invent history. This is the Family of the Kings (or the Martians): this is the King (or the Martian dad), the Queen (or the Martian mom), this is a squire (or a squire robot), this is a sorcerer ( or a medical scientist), this is the prince (or the Martian son) and this is the princess (or the Martian daughter). In addition, there is a horse (or a horse with wings) and a cat (or a Martian pet). Here is the castle (or the planet Mars) and here a forest (or space with other planets). Now you can discuss with your groupmates and think about how you would tell a story. Then I will also ask you to choose one or more representatives of the group to tell the story to the class. ”
Group Discussion (I)
Allow five minutes for each group to begin to develop a conversation on the subject, taking care that the tone of voice is not annoying for the other groups.
Group Discussion (II)
After five minutes the administrator says: “Well, you can still keep thinking and talking about the story, remember that then I will ask you to tell a story about the Family of Kings (or Martians), a story with a beginning, a central part and an end ”
I tell the class
After the second five-minute period the administrator says: “Well, it’s time to tell the story about the Family of the Kings (or the Martians).” “Have you chosen the representatives? If you haven’t done it, do it now, so let’s listen to and record the history of each group. ” In this phase, each representative tells the story to the class while the other groups listen to it.
- 5 audio recorders (one per table-group)
- 1 video camera with microphone.
An image of The Family of the Kings and the Family of the Martians in large size (A0) with which you can be inspired to tell a story.
Pencils, sheets of paper.
Description of the final product
Stories elaborated by the different groups of students. File in audio-format of the process of group elaboration of the history and video recording of the representation before the class by the representatives of each group.
Regarding the preparation phase of the story (first ten minutes, discussion in group I and II), the results indicate that the internal collaboration of the group progressively increased with the age of the children and stabilized, with high scores, from the seven years.
Although in children and primary school the percentage of collaborative time revolved around the time available, the interactions were more focused on the negotiation of roles than the debate on the story. This data is confirmed by the fact that of all the children and primary school groups, they needed to be helped by an adult to start focusing on the task.
From the age of nine and a half (fourth grade), without anyone having suggested it, almost all the groups decided to write the story during their preparation
Home-focused group interactions increased with age and stabilized especially after age seven, in second grade. Until the age of seven (in children and primary school) the collaboration was more focused on defining the internal roles of the group and on the construction of parallel stories, which could influence the final story of the representative narrator. These interactions tended to be less driven and mediated by the adult with the passage of time, until they progressively transformed into a group co-construction, starting from the second grade of primary school.
Further evidence of this progressive chain of history was the fact that, after the age of nine (primary school), children preferred to write history, probably to leave a written memory of the contribution of each member of the group.
The negative contents of the story tended to be compensated for positive and decisive content. This could be related to the progressive competition of integrating negative events into problem-solution dyads, compensating for the conflicts and negative relationships of the characters with positive and adaptive actions. In addition, it could be related to a need for positive emotional and social reference of the child that leads him to delimit the negative emotional charges associated with the representations, positively compensating them in a progressively more complex, integrated and decisive structure.
How children took part in the practice
Regarding the choice of the narrator of the group, excluding children as children, in the first stories, the groups chose a single narrator, while in the second they chose more than one.
The results of the study confirmed that, with increasing age, the competence to narrate a more complex story was gradually developed, stimulated by a more collaborative environment and concerned with the final exposure to the class.
The parents of the volunteer children presented informed consent for their children’s participation in the practice but did not have an active role in the development of the activity.
Strengths and critical points
The main strength is the use of a cooperative methodology in the creation of a story. In addition, the members of the different groups must agree on the selection of their representative for the presentation of their final story before the class. The critical point of the practice is that among the children who volunteered to participate, there were no children with difficulties.
How the practice fostered children’s narrative competence
The progressive development of stories regarding age underlined both the evolution of cooperative competencies and children’s narrative competencies. With the increase in age, the stories presented a decrease in movement verbs, an increase in static verbs and expressing physical-mental states. Already from the second year of primary school (7; 5 years) this change began to be registered, probably the effect of a greater capacity to attract the attention of the audience, inserting in the history attributions about the physical-mental states of the characters, thus intriguing more to the listeners. With the increase in age, the formal aspects of the story also evolved (propositions, cohesion, structure, problems solved) and, starting at age 9; 6, a “ceiling effect” of cohesion and narrative structure began.
Contribution to inclusion or support for special education needs
The cooperative debate over narrative production and class exposure can be effective methods of students’ cognitive and relational stimulation. Especially after the second grade of primary school, children already show a good maturity in cooperating with each other and in using the peer group as a source of inspiration and information. In the last of children and in first of primary school, an important mediation of the adult is still necessary for peer relationships and in supporting the child in capturing the attention of the class during the final story.
The group histories of the study presented formal aspects of equal or superior quality with respect to the individual stories with the Bear Family Test. Also, the positive and negative contents were more frequent compared to the individual stories with the Bear Family. This effect is probably due to the collaborative structure of the task and the immediate social impulse stimulated by public speaking to the class.
In this sense, the group discussion and the narration to the class would push for a more abundant and intriguing narrative production, stimulated by the attention of the audience of peers and their judgment.
INCLUDED – Digital Storytelling for Inclusion