Over the years I have come to believe that Story Grammar Marker has taught me as much about narrative development as it has taught my students about telling stories! Initially, I used to use the full SGM and teach Complete Episodes, regardless of my students' level of development. Although they gained a good sense of the icons and could identify story elements, the ties between elements were missing--what to do about my third graders who still peppered their stories with "and then" after "and then?" Using the “A Day in the Park” booklet with students really helped me understand my students' narrative levels and the cohesive ties that mark each stage. From there, my use of the SGM became much more thoughtful, differentiated and holistic-- addressing sentence structure as well as overall story structure.
Back to those 3rd grader — although we had done “A Day in the Park” in Grade 2, they definitely needed a review, specifically one that would boost them from an Action Sequence to a more complex story that included more mature cohesive ties: a Reaction Sequence. Their teacher welcomed me into the classroom for a group project in which kids were asked to create exactly this kind of story. After a review of the SGM icons (character, setting, kickoff, and reaction), the cohesive ties (I called these "glue words" in the classroom), and plenty of modeling, the kids set to work in groups with Reaction Sequence story maps and Kerpoof as a visual inspiration. The story maps provided structure and a kind of checklist to make sure that kids had met the requirements, and in the meantime they had great fun being creative! I found my students left the project with a greater understanding of how complex sentences made their stories better, and could generalize the skills into other tasks. The booklet embedded below provides you with a review of the Kerpoof interface as well as 4 examples of student work, complete with my notations of the story elements and cohesive ties each group used. You can click through to the Issuu site if you would like to download and/or print the booklet.
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