Teaching SGM® Components

Are you looking for a story to review the SGM® components in a group or to sharpen student awareness of narrative structure?

  1. Read the story below to the child (download printed version).
  2. Review the SGM® components on your Teacher Marker.
  3. Have the students draw or stamp the icons above the correct SGM component.
    Note that the story is a Complete Episode: the first paragraph has the Character, Setting, Initiating Event, Feeling and Plan stated; the second paragraph contains all the Planned Attempts to carry out the Plan; and the last paragraph has the Direct Consequence (tie-up) and Resolution (feeling about how the story ended). We have found it helpful to go paragraph by paragraph.
  4. Have the students draw or stamp the icons above the correct SGM® component (see completed version).
  5. After the activity is completed, have the student work with a partner, Turn and Talk, and use his/her SGM® Student Marker to retell the story.
Miguel woke up to a bright, sunny morning. He couldn’t wait to go outside and play baseball! He had been looking forward to it all week and thought of nothing else. As he began to gather his ball and glove, he heard a knock on his bedroom door. “Just checking your room to see how all that cleaning looks,” said his mother. Miguel’s heart sank. He felt disappointed because he remembered that he couldn’t go outside until his room was set so he decided to drop his baseball equipment and start the chore.

First, he picked up all his clothes from the floor and put them in his basket. Next, he organized his papers and schoolbooks neatly on his desk. After that, he made his bed. Then, he put all his Legos back into the bin. Finally, Miguel called his mom.

Miguel’s mom came to his room. She took one look at his room and smiled at him. Miguel flew down the stairs and out the door! “Go Team!” he shouted happily. It was going to be a great day after all!

You may want to ask the following questions and use the SGM® Teacher Marker to “mark” the component(s) that answer these questions. This is also a great way to work with students who are having difficulty with the narrative structure.

  1. Who is the story about?
  2. Where and when does the story take place?
  3. What happened that started the story?
  4. How did the Miguel feel about what happened?
  5. What did Miguel do to clean his room?
  6. Why did Miguel clean his room?
  7. How did he feel at the end of the story?

Extended Teaching Tips:

After the students draw or stamp the icons on the story words themselves, you may want to think aloud and add details regarding each of the SGM® components:

Character IconMiguel is the character. One may brainstorm a character description using the following categories from our character map:

  • Physical Description: age, gender, clothing, hair, eyes
  • Likes/Dislikes: likes baseball/dislikes cleaning his room

StarThe setting is a bright, sunny Saturday morning. He “woke up to” communicates the fact that he was in his house, in the room where he slept.

  • We infer, remembering personal experiences, that Miguel is not going to school since it is Saturday.

ShoeThe kick off, at first glance, is a knock on his bedroom door.

  • More specifically, though, it is his mother’s words. Those words definitely change the “ho-hum” day for Miguel! He remembers the meaning of his mother’s words: “He remembered that he couldn’t go outside until his room was set.”

Heart IconThe feeling is communicated by the word “disappointed” but in teaching, we may call attention to the sentence “Miguel’s heart sank.” This sentence is a figurative language expression communicating the feeling of “disappointed.”

Action IconAttempts are all verbs: picked up, put, organized, made, put, called.

  • Bring the students’ attention to the Sequence Cohesive ties: First, Next, After that, Then, Finally.

Consequence IconDirect Consequence of the attempts is that he cleaned his room and mom is pleased.

Resolution IconResolution: Miguel is happy.

  • Bring attention to the figurative language expression: “flew down the stairs and out the door!” This indicates that Miguel is happy.

Sheila Zagula
Sheila Zagula


Sheila Zagula works with MindWing Concepts in product development, drawing on her expertise and talents as well as many years of implementing the Story Grammar Marker® and related materials. Her teaching career spans thirty-eight years, most recently as literacy coach in the Westfield Massachusetts Public School System. Sheila has experience as an early childhood educator, a teacher of children with special needs, and a collaborative instructor within an inclusion framework serving children in grades K-5.

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