February 06, 2014

5 Instructional Strategies for Narrative Language

strategies to make your teaching more effective and efficient


A couple weeks ago I touched on the importance of teaching narrative language and story retelling skills. These are vital skills that have an impact on a student's reading and writing skills and build the foundation of literacy skills. And we all know that literacy skills are crucial for a student to experience academic success. Now let's discuss some instructional strategies you can use to make your teaching time more effective and efficient.


What it is: Structured repetitions and expansions upon student utterances.

Who to use it with: Everyone!

Main ideas:
- There are different forms of language facilitation.
- Form Recasts increase the length/complexity of a child's utterance:
Student: She throwed ball.
SLP: She threw the ball really far!

- Content Recasts add new information to what the student said:
Student: Throw ball.
SLP: Throw the red ball!

- Vertical Structuring is a way to ask questions that elicit various pieces of information, then model the utterance as a whole for students:
SLP: How does our character feel?
Student: Sad.
SLP: Why does he feel sad?
Student: He dropped his ice cream.
SLP: Yes! He feels sad because he dropped his ice cream.


What it is: Use simple stick figures to generate and help students retell stories.

Who to use it with: Students in grades 1 and older can usually draw their own pictures to help retell stories. For younger students, you can draw your own pictures for them to dictate.

Main ideas:
- Keep drawings very simple. The focus should be on the story retell, not the artwork.
- Provides support for language development.
- Assists students in remembering and organizing their ideas when producing oral narratives.
- May need to teach students to emphasize the main points by keeping their drawings quick and easy.
- Set a timer if needed to help students focus and make their drawings quick.


What it is: Help students retell a story complete with story grammar elements using cues and prompts.

Who to use it with: Students who can identify each story grammar element in a story.


Main ideas:
- Icons are a great way to help students remember which story grammar elements need to be included.
- Co-Telling is meant to be supportive, so point to and use your picture icons frequently.
- Encourage students to "assist" you in telling the story.
- The SLP leads the story-telling and points to the icons as they come up in the story to cue the students to add that element.



What it is: A chance for students to practice developing and retelling stories which contain all the story elements.

Who to use it with: Students who have been taught and can identify each story grammar element in a story.

Main ideas:
- Students can develop their own story as a group with the support/guidance of the SLP.
- Story boards, grids, story maps, and icons are excellent tools for parallel story development.
- Once each part of the story is developed, give each student the opportunity to retell the story.
- Parallel story retell can also be done using previously developed stories that students are familiar with and making a very slight change for the student to retell (for example, change the types of animals in the story).


What it is: Visual aids to assist in story development, comprehension, and retell.

Who to use it with: Everyone!

Main ideas:
- Story maps guide students through the story retell process.
- Story maps and storyboards can be as simple or as complicated as the student is ready for.
- Use pictography on your storyboards to help students remember the story (see #2).
- As students' skills develop, move away from using graphic organizers so they have to internalize the skill of story retelling.


Some of these strategies are things I think we inherently do as speech-language pathologists. Pat yourself on the back! Feeling overwhelmed by the others? Just take on one strategy at a time. Implement it until you are comfortable, then add in another. Thanks for reading!

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Abby is grateful pictography is meant to be simple. Stick figures are about all she can artistically handle.

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