January 21, 2014

Narrative Language Intervention Resources

a round-up of resources for teaching narrative language skills

There are so many resources out there for us to use when helping our students improve their narrative language skills! Yesterday I touched on Sandi Gillam's SKILL program, and today I thought it would be nice to corral a bunch of useful resources in one place. Here we go!


SKILL (Supporting Knowledge in Language and Literacy) (Sandi Gillam) - Complete program to teach individual story grammar elements, story retell, and independent story generation.

Story Grammar Marker (MindWing Concepts) - Complete program using icons to help children learn to tell and retell stories, improve comprehension, writing, and social communication.

Strong Narrative Assessment Procedure (Carol J. Strong) - Uses wordless picture books to assess narrative skills. Includes instructions for how to elicit and analyze story retelling samples, and how to develop an intervention program based on the results.


First off, a plug for my newest packet because I am just SO excited about it! I was so enthused after participating in some narrative language trainings recently, that I created an update to my Story Grammar Prompts packet. It's a complete overhaul!

This packet is jam-packed with goodies! Here's what's inside:

This might be my favorite packet yet! You can read more about it on Teachers Pay Teachers.


Scoop Up a Delicious Story  - The Dabbling Speechie

DIY Story Telling Rope - Miss Thrift SLP

The Importance of Narrative Assessments - Smart Speech Therapy, LLC

Superhero Story Telling Dice - Crazy Speech World

Make a Silly Story - Speechy Musings

Story Grammar Marker - MindWing Concepts; $24.99

Story Wheel - EverAge; $2.99 (free lite version)

Story Pals - Expressive Solutions, LLC; $19.99

Story Builder - Mobile Education Store; $7.99

Toontastic - Launchpad Toys; FREE

Abby is certain this list is not exhaustive. Leave your favorite narrative language resources in the comments below!

January 20, 2014

SKILL Program for Teaching Story Grammar Elements

an overview of the SKILL program for teaching story grammar and story retell

Last week I had the great privilege of hearing Sandi Gillam speak about her SKILL program. Sandi works at Utah State University and has been conducting tons of research to improve narrative skills in children. Through her work and research, she has developed the SKILL (Supporting Knowledge in Language and Literacy) program. It was so inspiring to hear Sandi speak! Teaching story grammar elements was not something that was included in my graduate program coursework, but narrative skills are highly emphasized in Iowa, so I'm very grateful to my employer for bringing in Ms. Gillam to speak with our SLPs for a couple days. I wanted to write a blog post or two about the information I learned as a way to help me summarize and sort through all the great information. Today's post will focus on the importance of narrative language skills and an overview of the SKILL program.



The ability to give accounts of real or imagined events is a critical skill for children to develop as they grow. Narration, or storytelling, has a rich history in many cultures, and has ties to classroom instruction, early literacy, and the development of conversational discourse. Developing narrative skills allows children the ability to express complex ideas, interact socially with their peers by explaining things they've experienced, and it's a skill clearly stated as a required skill in the Reading and Speaking/Listening Common Core State Standards from Kindergarten on! This is a life skill we're talking about.

It's especially crucial to address these skills in children with language impairments. These children often don't get the gist of what is being said, have difficulties inferring, aren't actively engaged in comprehension, and may have poor vocabulary or semantic skills. Addressing narrative skills allows the SLP/teacher to address multiple goals: story comprehension, conversational discourse, vocabulary, semantics, inferencing - it's kind of an all-in-one package to improve multiple goal areas!


The SKILL program is one resource for teaching story grammar elements and improving narrative language. The program consists of three phases:

PHASE 1: Teaching Story Grammar Elements - Character, Setting, Take-off, Feelings, Plan, Action, Complication, Landing, Wrap-up

- The use of scripts for teaching the various elements helps you develop a systematic instructional routine and become more efficient with your teaching (students can focus on the content rather than the task).
- Icons are included for each story grammar element and are used consistently throughout the program.
- Various teaching strategies include co-telling, bingo, parallel story development/retelling practice through the use of storyboards.

PHASE 2: Moving from Simple Stories to Elaborate Stories

- Students are taught to add dialogue to their stories (which assists in increasing linguistic complexity).
- The addition of Complications to stories helps make them more complex.
- Lessons in adding adverbs to help elaborate on Action

PHASE 3: Becoming Independent Storytellers

- Students move from creating stories based on sequential pictures, to single-picture scenes.
- Self-scoring rubric gives students independence by internalizing the story grammar elements and moves them away from using the icons.

Each phase of the program includes an exit checklist of tasks a student must be able to perform before moving on to the next phase. By administering exit tasks, any areas of weakness are exposed and teaching suggestions are provided to address those areas.

I hope you'll consider adding the SKILL program to your teaching repertoire. It is designed to be used by speech-language pathologists, classroom teachers, special educators, and ELL specialists.

Stay tuned later this week for more information about instructional strategies for teaching story grammar elements!

Abby is overwhelmed by the insane amount of useful knowledge she learned from Sandi Gillam. Who is the best speaker you've heard during professional development opportunities?

January 17, 2014

Winter Mitten Craftivity

these mittens are a quick and cute activity to target multiple goals

This week in my speech sessions we did a winter craftivity! I loved this activity because there was minimal prep time involved, and I could use it to target a lot of different goals. I pre-cut a mitten template from multiple colors of construction paper, and also had probe pictures cut and sorted. Then we went to town crafting!

For my preschool language students working on expanding utterance length, we used carrier phrases as we glued our pictures onto the mitten: "The cat is on the mitten.", "The rocket is on the mitten.", "I want robot please.", etc.

For other students we used location words in relation to other pictures to talk about where we were placing each item: "The present is under the robot." Other students practiced following directions after I instructed them where to place each picture. And with some students we talked about describing words, functions, or categories.

Students with articulation goals were practicing their target sounds in words, phrases, or sentences before gluing on each picture.

When we were done with the pictures, we had fun adding ribbon and glitter! This also provided excellent language opportunities for my kiddos to describe colors, shapes, make requests, and take turns. We had a blast!

Abby wears grey mittens, but is not impressed with the touch-screen compatible variety. What color are yours?

January 07, 2014

2014 Goals

What are your professional and personal goals for 2014?

I debated setting New Year's Resolutions this year because, like most people (I think), I'm not very good about keeping them through the year. (Case in point: I've had the same quilt I've been working on for, um, 8 years now?) The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized there were definite ways I'd like to improve various aspects of my personal and professional life in 2014. After some time reflecting on these goals this week, here's what I've come up with:

 graphics credits: Graphics From the Pond

Personal Goal: Procrastinate Less
I'm a huuuuuuge procrastinator and always have been! In college and grad school, I found that I would strive when deadlines were looming and I could maintain the most focus when time was short and I didn't have any other option! However, now as a working professional I'm sick of it and I'm going to do my best to change!

SLP Goal: More Timely Paperwork
This goes along with my personal goal. No more finishing progress reports in between parent/teacher conferences or printing out student graphs as I walk into an IEP meeting. No more waiting until the end of each month and entering in all my data into student graphs at once! No more waiting until the night before a meeting to write an evaluation report!

Blog/Teachers Pay Teachers Goal: Average 2 Posts Per Week
My goal is to average 2 posts per week. Some weeks may be more, and some weeks may be less. I don't want this blog to take over my life. I want it to be a creative outlet for me. And with less procrastinating from now on (see Goal #1), I hope to start scheduling more posts in advance if I know work or personal commitments are going to amp up during a certain month and take away from my blogging time.

Organization Goal: Create an App Spreadsheet
The agency I work for generously provided me with a 16GB iPad, but this is nowhere near enough memory!! I am constantly downloading free apps, and deleting apps to clear more room, and then the apps I delete get lost "in the cloud" and it's difficult for me to find them again. Or, if I go back and look at apps, I can't remember what they're for! So, my big goal for the year is to create a spreadsheet with the names of the apps I download, and categorize them into goal areas. That way I'll have a quick reference to help me reload apps, and to find the apps I need when lesson planning. It seems pretty daunting right now to think about starting this process, but I know it will be super helpful for me!

Just For Fun Goal: Read 25 Books
This summer I got myself a library card and went to town reading just for fun. I don't think I've read recreationally since before college! I'm using Goodreads to keep track of the books I've read, and the books I want to read, and have set a goal to read at least 25 books in 2014. I've already read two so far this week! (If you haven't read "The Paris Wife", I highly recommend it!) What is the best book you've read lately?