Old School “Brag Books” for Reinforcing Story Grammar Marker

Photo Album pictureRecently, I came across an idea on Pinterest using a mini-photo album for reinforcing sight words. The words, written on notecards, were inserted into the pockets. It appeared to be so easy to use and change. I thought it would also be a great way to review SGM components, create centers for individuals and story specific centers, and/or send weekly tasks home to parents!

With this in mind, I went on a hunt to find these albums, which are plastic, hold about 25 photos, and measure 4”x6”. In my day, we referred to them as “brag books” and would have them filled with recent photos of children, dogs, garden, etc., whatever we wanted to share (“brag about”) with family and friends! I found a few at our local dollar store and our CVS had a good number for about two dollars each. The following are a few STAMPede Stamp Set photoexamples of how I will be starting to use these along with MindWing’s STAMPede Stamp Set this year. This is a work in progress and one of which I am excited!

  1. Activity Book pictureI wrote the student’s name on the front cover and came up with questions based upon the ones found in Core of The Core manual pictureThe Core of The Core manual, pp 169-180. These are generic questions, both narrative and expository, that are designed to follow your instruction/intervention.

    Sample Sentence 1Sample Sentence 2Checklist SampleThe questions address and support specific standards and may be used with lessons, current classroom reading selections, or in therapy sessions. Any maps needed will be printed ahead of time and responses will be written in response journals for the students I am tutoring. The questions may be changed weekly depending on student goals.

    I created a simple check sheet that is inserted into the booklet so that I can keep track of the questions completed/progress. These notes, that can be put in the student’s folder, will also come in handy for conferences with students and with parents.

  2. The above idea could also be used to engage parents in the learning process. The assignment sent home might be completed orally and then shared with you (orally or in written form) when students return. This format would lend itself to older students as the photo album is unobtrusive and easy to transport back and forth.

  3. Booklet 2 photoBooklet 1 photoBooklet 4 photoBooklet 3 photoIn addition, I am in the process of creating booklets specific to individual books I use in tutoring. A sampling from chapters 1-3 from Number the Stars by Lois Lawry is shown. I used the STAMPede Stamps to focus the students on which aspect of the SGM marker icon the question relates.

    The students will discuss the answers with a classmate and then share out or respond in their journals. Certain questions could be targeted for students using a colored paperclip (as shown, “Please do both of the questions with the red paperclips.”) or even writing his/her name with a dry-erase pen on the booklet itself, as it erases easily. The booklets can then be easily stored with the book for use the following year.

I am sure you are already coming up with ideas of your own to use with this clever idea! It will take some time initially to prepare but I like the flexibility of the format for individualizing instruction. Please feel free to share your ideas with colleagues on our MindWing Concepts Facebook page!

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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