Tech Tuesday/Summer Study Series: The Moral of the Story is… - MindWing Concepts, Inc.

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Tech Tuesday/Summer Study Series: The Moral of the Story is…

by Sean Sweeney June 27, 2022 3 min read

Sun imageAs someone who loves themes and context, I was thrilled to find a particular study on assessment and intervention with FABLES to include as this entry in the 2022 Summer Study Series!

This new resource made me think back to last year’s discussion of using moral dilemmas in narrative language and social cognitive therapy activities. Today’s post includes the advantage of having many adaptable materials to offer you! Specifically, we are talking about Philosophy for Adolescents: Using Fables to Support Critical Thinking and Advanced Language Skills (Nippold and Marr, 2022), LSHSS logo-title imagean extensive article describing the authors’ work in assessing and intervening in language and critical thinking skills through fables. As always, I am providing some summary below so you can get the main points. I viewed their work as interpretable for use with younger students and with adaptations of materials, but don’t miss that their entire program is a FREE link within their article.

  • The authors were very interested in the link between narrative language and critical thinking, as is Story Grammar Marker® and its spin-off tools focusing on the Critical Thinking Triangle®. Anticipating the structure of fables, we can also use the concept of the Resolution (heart/3 hearts at the end of the SGM® manipulative and maps) to target feeling, lesson, and moral of the story to bridge understanding and discussion.
  • Related to these story elements which can be used to scaffold critical thinking skills, critical thinking itself is defined as relating to “a metacognitive activity that requires one to evaluate the evidence that supports or refutes an assertion, reflecting on the available information, to determine one’s own beliefs, distinguishing them from the beliefs of others, and to manage one’s own thoughts.”
  • The authors provide some interesting structures also useful in instruction, including traits of critical thinking that can be used as social behavioral targets in groups (e.g. empathy, confidence and fair-Advertising Pwrpnt title pagemindedness). They also outline fallacies which are helpful to teach in the process of instruction (you can find many examples of critical thinking materials such as this link to a Powerpoint describing advertising tricks such as omission or false cause).
  • Noted here also are the overall lack of published guidelines for SLPs to address critical thinking, an essential skill to “take up the problems of life” and one which is under-addressed among disadvantaged groups and those with language disorder.
  • Fables are useful in that they are “short narratives, usually about animals or objects, that attempt to convey a lesson or moral message about life, with which the listener or reader is free to agree or disagree.” The authors also describe fables as being relatively free of cultural or linguistic bias (also, by the way, selectable from many cultures), short, of interest to students of many ages, and concerned with “complex aspects of human nature” related to behavior and problem solving.
  • Prior to the development of their intervention program, the authors conducted several studies previously published and recapped here, including looking at the advanced syntax often employed by teens when retelling fables as opposed to in conversation, and also a database that can be used for comparison in assessment.
  • North Wind and The Sun imageAs mentioned, their program for intervention is then described in detail and access to it is given in full via a direct link. This contains a number of fables with illustrations (e.g., The Tortoise and the Hare, City Mouse and Country Mouse, The North Wind and The Sun), a story grammar organizer for which SGM® materials would be a great visual substitution, and supportive questions including of course critical thinking routes but also targeted vocabulary.
  • By way of evidence (always helpful!) a case study with one student’s improved performance is described within the article, with specific examples of scaffolded dialogues.

A tech tie-in I suggest is that the principles of this intervention be adapted in a number of ways: I could see these contexts and techniques being very useful with upper elementary students using SGM®’s manipulatives, icons, and graphic organizers. Additionally, visual resources such as Epic’s collections, including the Aesop’s Fables collection depicted below, would be a great context to present this material. YouTube versions of fables also provide extra visual support and engagement for younger learners, and therapists can consider sampling fables from diverse cultures.

Epic full-width image

Sean Sweeney
Sean Sweeney

Sean Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and technology specialist working in private practice at the Ely Center in Needham, MA, and as a clinical supervisor at Boston University. He consults to local and national organizations on technology integration in speech and language interventions. His blog, SpeechTechie (, looks at technology “through a language lens.” Contact him at

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