The SGM® and the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA)

Over the weekend I noticed comments on the official SGM® Facebook page about the relationship between the SGM® and the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA). Thanks to Sarah and Ellen for your input.Maryellen

In general, The Story Grammar Marker®, now 25 years old, has its evidence in the research on narrative development in the disciplines of psychology, language and reading comprehension and is the foundation of discourse level oral language. Discourse is conversation, narration and information. Narrative discourse, or story-telling, begins long before the child enters school or is beginning to read. It has its roots in oral language development.

Story Grammar Marker with CalloutsNarrative development is the broad term which assists us in making sense of our social world, participating in social and academic conversation, telling, retelling, and ultimately, writing stories and problem solving in life. Narrative development begins with the gradual knowledge and use of story grammar, a term for the basic unit of a plot. Story Grammar, as a term, was cited in the National Reading Panel Report. It involves the character, setting, initiating event, emotional response, plan, attempts to carry out the plan, and direct consequence and resolution (outcome and lessons learned).

There is research, cited on this website, showing that narrative discourse abilities develop over time in terms of a macro and a microstructure. The macrostructure is the development of story grammar elements, listed above. There is a research-based developmental sequence, which we often discuss on our blog entries, and which forms the basis of intervention. The microstructure is the sentence and vocabulary level which make up the contents of the story or situation. Please see “Research” section (Evidence / Research Base) of this website or in our many manuals.

I have spent the better part of 40 years as a speech/language pathologist, involved in the teaching of and intervention for reading, both code and comprehension. In regard to comprehension, I noted in my experience that students are often unable to verbalize what they comprehended without intensive scaffolding WH-questions by the teacher/clinician and even then, they are often unable to independently tell/retell the story. This is where narrative development comes in!

It was with the above experiences in mind, when I responded to questions by teachers, a few years ago, who were using the DRA. The question centered around the DRA rubric and the fact that students could often read the words from their leveled book but were not able to retell the story, thus did not progress.

There are many ways to measure narrative stages or levels. Some involve counting:

  • total number of words
  • total number of different words
  • number of words from a specific set of words
  • determination of beginning, middle, end
  • number of story grammar elements of an episode present
  • number of different character perspectives
  • how character perspectives interact with one another
  • cohesive tie words (conjunctions) present, etc.

MindWing Concept’s Assessments are related to the student’s narrative abilities and intervention goals and benchmarks. The outcome of these assessments results in intervention goals for narrative development. There are general and in-depth formats contained in our Data Collection and Progress Monitoring Manual.

The DRA is based on a rubric focused on sequencing of story events for a specific purpose: retell of a story. There are elements related to emotion as well. In our experience, as stories progress in complexity, there is a need to “grow” the story by learning how to think deeply about the character’s motivations and perspectives. This requires the student to learn how to causally connect story elements and use these connections to generate inferences as well as to sequence the basic events. This is what the Story Grammar Marker® hands-on tool and utilizing the developmental sequence helps educators do.

The Story Grammar Marker® is based on progression of narrative development beginning with the sequencing of characters’ actions within a setting and progressing gradually to the causal chain, identification of problems, emotional responses and plans to deal with the problem from multiple points of view and finally the consequences of those plans, and ultimately to the interference of another character’s plan! The SGM® is a discourse development tool that, when used from preschool develops the macro and microstructures to use to retell when asked to but to comprehend situations in books, media and life and express what was comprehended.

The Story Grammar Marker® is a great tool to use within the existing reading (such as the DRA) or any writing program to build the oral narrative strategies necessary to thrive academically and in social situations.


Maryellen Rooney Moreau
Maryellen Rooney Moreau

Author

Maryellen Rooney Moreau, M.Ed., CCC-SLP, is founder of MindWing Concepts. She earned her University of Massachusetts at Amherst Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Disorders at University of Massachusetts at Amherst with Departmental Honors and her Master’s of Education degree in Communication Disorders at Pennsylvania State University. Her forty-year professional career includes: school-based SLP, college professor, diagnostician, and Coordinator of Intervention Curriculum and Professional Development for children with language learning disabilities. She designed the Story Grammar Marker® and has been awarded two United States Patents. She has written more than 15 publications and developed more than 40 hands-on tools based on the SGM® methodology. Maryellen was awarded the 2014 Alice H. Garside Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Dyslexia Association, Massachusetts Branch.



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