9-1 | The High-Performing Preschool: Story Acting in Head Start Classrooms

Book Review

The High-Performing Preschool: Story Acting in Head Start Classrooms

Gillian Dowley McNamee
Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2015. Foreword, preface, references, and index. 200 pp. $22.50 paper. ISBN: 9780226260952

by Carrie L. Portrie

First Paragraph:

In The High-Performing Preschool: Story Acting in Head Start Classrooms, Gillian Dowley McNamee uses Lev Vygotsky’s social learning theories to invite readers to think critically about early literacy through Vivian Gussein Paley’s practical curricu-lum on dramatic play and storytelling. McNamee, a Paley apprentice, describes her own research observing urban Head Start children and their teacher, and she illustrates the reciprocity of teaching and learning between child and adult. She tells Paley’s story, her own, and that of many teachers who invite children into “a very important space for teaching and learning: the line between our real individual lives and thinking on the stage—the shared space inside the square” (p. 122). In the preschool classroom, this space may be physically constructed of masking tape, but it represents an important space where children can find their public voice among peers within focused zones of proximal development. These public voices are part of school performance.