Teaching Narrative to Young Learners

My favorite goal to target in speech therapy is narrative expression. First of all, it is a powerful skill. The world is mediated through language…just try to go a day without telling someone a narrative. Narrative expression is required in both academic and social interactions! It is even included in common core standards. Second, it consistently shows up in research articles as an evidence-based practice for widespread gains in developing expressive and receptive language skills.

I work on developing narrative expression with nearly all of my elementary-aged language students. One study I have been referencing a lot recently has been:

Adlof, S. M., McLeod, A., & Leftwich, B. (2014). Structured narrative retell instruction for young children from low socioeconomic backgrounds: A preliminary study of feasibility. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 391. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00391

There is tons of literature available that looks at the benefits of shared book reading in young children for vocabulary development and the benefits of narrative instruction in older students, but a big missing gap looking at the impact of narrative instruction in developmentally young children.

The authors of this study were specifically researching the impact of narrative instruction on young learners from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Their results indicated significant gains in the areas of vocabulary, narrative expression, and grammar.

The clinicians in the research study implemented a specific protocol for targeting narrative with the young learners. Here is a brief outline of the Structured Narrative Retell Instruction (SNRI) Protocol: ⁣
1. Read aloud a picture book with a true narrative structure. Meaning it has a character, setting, at least one problem, at least one attempt, and a resolution. ⁣
2. Guide the student(s) through think-alouds as you read the story (e.g., make predictions, draw attention to story grammar elements, define Tier 2 vocabulary), using visual supports to scaffold success during and after reading. ⁣
3. Review story grammar elements in the story through comprehension questions. Provide “modeling, prompting, recasts, and expansions to encourage more complex language use.” ⁣
4. Students retell the story using visual supports and verbal prompts from the clinician to scaffold success.⁣
5. Students further engage with the story through an art project.

Using the information from this study and my clinical experience targeting narrative expression in early elementary-aged students, I created the Story Grammar Review Boom Card Deck Bundle to help me systematically target story grammar elements in a consistent, visual, and interactive way. ⁣

The Bundle is available on both Boom Learning and Teachers Pay Teachers. It contains two products, which I will describe below:

Story Grammar Review Boom Card Deck

Introduces and reviews each of the story grammar elements (i.e., character, setting, blast off, emotional reaction, plan, actions, resolution, and wrap-up) through:

  • Say & check definitions
  • Fill-in definitions
  • Sorting tasks
  • Interactive instructional tasks (Examples, design a character, design a setting, create a blast off, match the emotion, match the plan, identify the actions, and match the resolution)

Two graphic organizers to use with any narrative, includes visual supports.

Five open-ended scenes with story grammar element checklists to support students in independently creating their own narratives.

Book Companion Story Grammar Review Boom Card Decks

Each of the book companion Story Grammar Review Boom Card decks were specifically designed to follow the format of the SNRI protocol outlined in the Adolf et al., 2014 article. ⁣

1. Picture books with true narrative structure were chosen for instruction
2. Story map to aid with think-alouds during reading ⁣
3. Story grammar comprehension questions
4. Story retell organizers with and without visual aids from the story
5. Open-ended scene, which can be used to support students in independently retelling the story, as well as help them further engage with the story through creative expression

Slide show of Book Companion Story Grammar Review Decks available in the Story Grammar Review Decks Bundle on Boom Learning Now

Thanks for reading!