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!

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

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