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How To Effectively Teach a Story Grammar Schema | Narrative Language Intervention

Updated: Nov 3

Establishing a foundation of story structure or a cognitive โ€œstory schemaโ€ is key to facilitating effective & efficient comprehension and generation of narratives.


๐’๐จ ๐ก๐จ๐ฐ ๐๐จ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐๐จ ๐ข๐ญ?


Iโ€™ll be honest:


As with most things, there isnโ€™t only one way, but Iโ€™ll give you some tips that have a strong evidence baseโ€”in research and in my own clinical practice!


โญ๏ธ ๐”๐ฌ๐ž ๐ฆ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ญ๐ข๐ฉ๐ฅ๐ž ๐ž๐ฑ๐ž๐ฆ๐ฉ๐ฅ๐š๐ซ๐ฌ.

Thatโ€™s just a fancy way to say: use multiple stories that have the same target structure. At least initially (while establishing the story schema), use a new story (โ€œexemplarโ€) each session.


Donโ€™t worry if the kids arenโ€™t retelling the stories perfectly, especially in the beginning. Support them through the stories, identifying and modeling those story grammar elements!


When the โ€œconstantโ€ between sessions is the schema, that is what sticks and supports generalization of skills.


โญ๏ธ ๐ˆ๐ญโ€™๐ฌ ๐จ๐ค๐š๐ฒ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ฌ๐ญ๐š๐ซ๐ญ ๐ฌ๐ข๐ฆ๐ฉ๐ฅ๐ž.

Itโ€™s better to start with an โ€œeasyโ€ or simple story and add complexity than to start too hard or complex. Ideally, as structure is being established, you want to minimize extraneous or complex information because itโ€™s hard for kids to parse out what is important. Once the schema is established, you can add complexity back inโ€”but at least initially, keep it simple, establishing that schema as an anchor.


โญ๏ธ ๐”๐ฌ๐ž ๐ฏ๐ข๐ฌ๐ฎ๐š๐ฅ๐ฌ.

Think story grammar icons, simple illustrations, etc. But donโ€™t forget to fade them!! Visuals are powerful tools, but can result in dependency if not faded systematically. Consider retelling stories with pictures + icons, then icons only, then without visual support (yes, all in the same session)!


โญ๏ธ ๐…๐จ๐œ๐ฎ๐ฌ ๐จ๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐ข๐ซ๐ž ๐ฌ๐ญ๐จ๐ซ๐ฒ ๐ฌ๐œ๐ก๐ž๐ฆ๐š.

Itโ€™s very effective to work on the entire story schema/story grammar sequence, rather than choosing specific elements to work on each session(not that you canโ€™t do that). Working on the schema as a whole maintains the meaningful and causal relationships between each element, rather than isolating and decontextualizing the elements.


โญ๏ธ ๐ˆ๐ง๐ญ๐ž๐ ๐ซ๐š๐ญ๐ž, ๐ข๐ง๐ญ๐ž๐ ๐ซ๐š๐ญ๐ž, ๐ข๐ง๐ญ๐ž๐ ๐ซ๐š๐ญ๐ž!

It is important to provide feedback and correction, but make sure the kids are putting that corrective feedback into practice IMMEDIATELY. If you tell the kid he/she missed the emotion, donโ€™t just have them tell you what is it. Always go back one step (e.g., to the problem) and start retelling from there, integrating the previously omitted emotion. This maintains the meaningful connections between elements and targets the entire schema as a whole.


Reference

Spencer, T. D., & Petersen, D. B. (2020). Narrative intervention: Principles to practice. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 51(4), 1081โ€“1096. https://doi.org/10.1044/2020_lshss-20-00015

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