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April 15, 2011

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UMASS Amherst Alumna Maryellen Rooney Moreau Turns Honors Thesis Into Lifelong Pursuit

Maryellen Rooney Moreau '68 is one alumna who has turned her undergraduate thesis into a lifelong career. Over 40 years ago, Moreau completed an honors thesis on language development in the department of communication arts and sciences, which is now known as communication disorders. Her thesis prompted a continued interest in researching the link between oral language development and literacy, turning Moreau into an entrepreneur whose business has changed the way educators teach...

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March 31, 2011

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Two of My Favorite -ERs: ThemeMakER and GlogstER!

ThemeMaker, Mindwing’s expository companion to Story Grammar Marker, helps children break down and produce the more challenging expository text that becomes central to learning as they advance through the grades! I have found that children are more open to working with expository text once they learn that the familiar SGM icons can help them along the way! While each ThemeMaker Expository Text Map (e.g. List, Sequence, Description, Compare-Contrast) is helpful on its own, kids need to be moved toward understanding that ALL of these structures are contained in curriculum discourse and text!

That can seem like an overwhelming task, but it becomes manageable and fun using a recently developed and FREE online tool, GlogsterEDU, a site that tells all students to “poster yourself!” What is a poster, really, but a display of information that utilizes these key expository structures? Using GlogsterEDU, you can choose and research any topic with your students using ThemeMaker maps and icons, then create a “Glog” with pictures, images and graphics, text (structures!) links, and even recorded audio and video if you wish!...

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March 17, 2011

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The Zimmer Twins and Stepping Up Narrative Complexity!

I am going to open this post with a language sample obtained from a fifth grade student in 2006, an attempt to retell an episode of the series Full House.

And um something that happened was when this girl named Michelle and this guy Jesse, it was Michelle’s birthday. And Jesse and Michelle got stuck in a gas station and she missed her party.
And um they were there all day, but then finally it opened the next- no it opened a lot later. So um they went back to the house and they had their party and she got an elephant and she got to ride it and all her friends and she got, she felt better. And that’s it...

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March 10, 2011

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Using Kerpoof for Digital Storytelling and Narrative Development Part 2

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 graders- 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...

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March 02, 2011

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Dinosaurs, Narrative, and Flexible Thinking

Dinosaurs, Narrative, and Flexible Thinking

I always love finding resources that serve as a context for addressing many speech and language-related skills. The wonderful book Edwina — The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She was Extinct by Mo Willems is one of those resources; it can be used to target narrative and expository formulation, as well as social thinking skills in several areas.

To begin with, Edwina is a story that will engage and delight children from early to late elementary ages, beginning with its title and the name of the main character, Reginald Von Hoobie-Doobie. Reginald has a problem...

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February 11, 2011

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day approaches! It’s a great time to target students’ understanding of feelings as described in It’s All About The Story, Book I of Mindwing’s Autism Collection! The Feelings icon is, of course, a heart, a common symbol of this holiday. You can use this book’s introduction to the Six Universal Feelings (happy, sad, mad, scared, surprised and disgusted), or Feelings in general as emphasized in the Story Grammar Marker program, along with the two resources presented in the screencast below, to develop students’ narrative language and perspective taking abilities. The screencast describes how to use a resource that almost everyone has access to- Microsoft PowerPoint- and also provides an overview of an interactive poetry generator. Having students make a Valentine for a special person in their lives can be an important way to show they are “thinking about” others and use some great language skills...

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January 31, 2011

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Interactive, Visual Resources to Complement Feelings Instruction (Internal Responses)

It's All About the Story CoverAs stated so well in It’s All About The Story, Book I of MindWing’s Autism Collection, “Tuning into one’s own Feelings as well as the Feelings of Others is extremely problematic to children with autism. The book provides visual flip charts, discussion prompts and an introduction to the Six Universal Feelings (happy, sad, mad, scared, surprised and disgusted), as well as ways to move beyond those Universal categories to more advanced feelings vocabulary—all of these resources give SLPs a great place to start...

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