Workshop Topics

“Help Me Tell My Story!” Academic & Social Success Using Braidy the StoryBraid®

Appropriate for Educators of Early Childhood – Pre-K through Grade 1
Materials Required: Braidy the StoryBraid® Kits (Click link for Kit description and contents)


This highly interactive professional development opportunity involves a hands-on approach for fostering the oral language development necessary for young children’s progress and achievement in talk, listening comprehension, writing/drawing, play, critical thinking and social-emotional growth. The main focus will be how Narrative Development helps young children use language to think, communicate and learn. Through modeling, small & large group activities, videos, lecture and demonstration, the presenter will share a researched-based methodology and patented mutlisensory materials that target the language, thinking and social skills for the classroom as well as in therapy. It is appropriate for use with with all young children in the Pre-Kindergarten setting including those children who may have social, developmental or learning challenges such as:

Braidy the StoryBraid® is hands-on approach for fostering the oral language development necessary for young children’s progress and achievement in talk, listening comprehension, writing/drawing, play, critical thinking, problem solving and social-emotional growth. Braidy® provides a child-friendly, concrete representation of the “narrative” episode. This developmental approach can be used during Read Alouds & Think Alouds to scaffold storytelling by facilitating sequencing and generating “Wh” questions. It helps to increase awareness of feelings, motivations & plans of characters as well as body language, facial expressions & tone of voice. Braidy®’s methodology is used for positive behavioral support, perspective-taking and conflict resolution.

Learner Outcomes:

Through use of this methodology within the child’s social & academic experience in the Pre-K, K and Grade 1 settings, teachers, clinicians & specialists can:

How to Make a “Cold” Re-Telling “Hot!” Narrative Intervention in Elementary School with Story Grammar Marker®

Appropriate for Educators of Elementary School - Grades 2-5
Materials Required for Participants: Story Grammar Marker® Kits (Click link for Kit description/contents)

This highly interactive professional development workshop will focus on narrative development, utilizing the research-based methodology and tool, the Story Grammar Marker® which has been used since 1991 to help children think, communicate and learn. The Story Grammar Marker®’s child-friendly tools have brightly colored, unique icons that represent the parts of a story. The methodology is rooted at the discourse level of language. Through modeling, small & large group activities, videos, lecture and demonstration, the presenter will share a researched-based methodology and patented multi-sensory materials that target the language, thinking and social skills for the classroom as well as in therapy. This methodology explicitly delineates 7 stages of narrative development in iconic form and includes the literate language features (“story sparkle”) that accompany these stages that serve to advance narrative thought and expression. Educators can use this methodology to teach narrative macrostructure & microstructure and to effectively collaborate with other professionals; both of which influence oral language, writing, comprehension, critical thinking and social-emotional development of students.

The Critical Thinking Triangle® of the SGM® is a concrete representation of how we think, feel and plan and it is often a missing link. It is how we share our thoughts, stories, and ideas in social interaction and in writing at school or work. It is also the thought process behind Theory of Mind and problem-solving. The Critical Thinking Triangle® provides a hands-on way of thinking about and communicating: the “main idea” of the story, the “perspective” in the social situation and the “voice” in written expression. The presenter will also delineate assessment, data collection, and progress monitoring measures for informing instruction. This approach is appropriate for pre-school, elementary children and middle school children in general education as well as with those children with Language Learning Disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Social Learning Challenges, English Language Learners and children who are Victims of Trauma, Abuse, and Neglect in therapy, classroom and/or clinical settings.

Learner Outcomes:

A Hands-On Approach to Teaching Oral/Written Expression of Narrative and Expository Text Using Talk to Write, Write to Learn

Appropriate for Educators of Elementary/Middle School - Grades 2-7
Materials Required for Particpants: Talk to Write, Write to Learn™ Kit (Click link for kit description/contents)


Talk to Write, Write to Learn™ is a critical intervention necessary for the development of oral language and literacy skills as they relate to teaching writing. Talk to Write, Write to Learn™ (TTWWTL™) was designed for use within your existing writing program to develop the oral language skills necessary as a foundation for writing of both narrative and expository text. Through children’s literature, the presenter will demonstrate a developmental approach to teaching writing. The presenter will share elements of “A Day In the Park” Student Activity Booklet™ which is the hands-on, activity-based approach to instruct students in the beginning stages of narrative development and writing.

TTWWTL™ helps children strengthen the relationship among oral language, comprehension, and writing. In addition to narrative writing, persuasion, argument, and opinion writing, as well as the 5-paragraph essay, will be modeled. These are the skills necessary for writing in content area subjects such as science and social studies. It can be used with students in regular education settings as well as those working with children with language learning disabilities, English Language Learners, children with Autism and those who have been victims of trauma, neglect and/or abuse.

Learner Outcomes:

As a result of this workshop, participants will be able to….

“It’s Not a Story Anymore!” Comprehension, Critical Thinking & Oral/Written Expression in the Content Areas Using ThemeMaker® for Expository Text

Appropriate for Educators of Late Elementary – Middle – High School
Required instructional materials: ThemeMaker® Kit (Click link for Kit description/contents)


ThemeMaker® is a uniquely designed approach to help students visualize, organize, comprehend and write higher level narratives and non-fiction/informational material. As a comprehensive tool for literacy acquisition, the ThemeMaker® is applicable along the developmental continuum and can be utilized across disciplines/content areas. This workshop will explore the developmental sequence necessary for narrative acquisition, with a focus on high-level narratives. It will also discuss, in depth, the 7 primary expository text structures found in content area text (i.e., science, social studies & current events) which are: description, list, sequence, cause/effect, problem/solution, compare/contrast, argument/opinion/persuasion.

Workshop activities will include application of the ThemeMaker® instructional and intervention materials to novels, literature, science & social studies chapters, newspaper clippings, pamphlets and advertisements. The presenter will use the ThemeMaker® to demonstrate how to develop students’ skills in comprehension, oral/written expression, perspective-taking, conflict resolution, and problem-solving. The ThemeMaker® is a valuable tool that can be utilized in a general education setting, special education setting, language-learning disabilities program or within an RtI model. All children can benefit from this methodology especially those with Language Learning Disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorders, English Language Learners and children who are victims of trauma, abuse or neglect.

Learner Outcomes:

The participants will be able to:

The Social-Academic Connection: Story-Based Intervention for Social Communication & Social Learning Challenges

Appropriate For Educators Working with Pre-K through Grade 5, Specifically:

Materials Required: The Autism Collection (Click link for Collection description/contents)


“Story-Based Intervention” was cited as one of eleven established treatments for autism.” Findings and Conclusions Report, National Standards Project,
United States National Autism Center

This highly interactive professional development workshop will focus on Story-Based (or Narrative) Intervention, which is needed when students experience difficulties using language to think, communicate and learn. The Story Grammar Marker® provides a concrete representation of the narrative episode. The “narrative” (story) is the human mode of thought. As an integral part of social communication; it is how we share our ideas, plans, dreams, memories, and beliefs in social interaction at school, home or work. Through modeling, small & large group activities, videos, lecture and demonstration, the presenter will share a methodology for oral and written expression, critical thinking, comprehension & social communication in the classroom, as well as in therapeutic settings. Children can be assisted, through the use of narrative development with MindWing’s Autism Collection Manuals and Tools to: tell their “story,” take perspective, develop Theory of Mind, become critical thinkers, build Central Coherence, solve problems, initiate conversation to establish relationships, recognize feelings through verbal and nonverbal cues, infer, make plans and improve writing with cohesion. Narrative intervention is important to all students, but especially those who may have social communication, developmental or learning challenges.

Learner Outcomes:

Participants will be able to…

The “Core” of the Core: Using Story Grammar Marker® to Support Students in Meeting Grade-Level Common Core State Standards

Appropriate For Educators Working with Kindergarten – Middle School
Required Materials: SGM® Kit OR ThemeMaker® Kit AND Core of the Core Book (Click link for Kit and Book descriptions/contents)

Workshop Description:

Oral language development is at the “core” of the Common Core State Standards because it provides the foundation for literacy. Through collaboration, SLPs, teachers, and specialists can bridge the gap for those students with identified disabilities or for those “at risk” of not meeting grade level standards. This workshop is designed to be hands-on and practical with small & large group, as well as individual activities directly related to supporting specific CCSS.

With the adoption of the Common Core State Standards, how do educators provide effective interventions to help students with identified disabilities, learning challenges, who are at risk, or on IEPs to meet grade-level standards?

The CCSS were designed to prepare students for success in college & careers and ultimately to be able to compete in a global, technology-driven economy. In order to ensure this success, students must be literate – or, competent in speaking, listening, reading, writing and thinking. The link between literacy and language development is the “discourse” level of language which is made up of narration, conversation, and exposition. It is within discourse that the Story Grammar Marker® (narratives), Six-Second-Stories (conversation) and ThemeMaker® (expository text) can provide the most effective intervention to bridge the gap for those students with identified disabilities or for those at risk of not meeting grade level standards. The CCSS call for students to develop “Communicative Competence” which is putting together words, phrases, and sentences to create conversations, speeches, email messages, articles, and books. Students are required throughout ALL standards to (using academic language) interpret, argue, analyze, organize, conclude and persuade through conversation, discussion, writing, and debate. There is also a strong emphasis on critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration with peers. In order for students to meet these requirements, oral language development – particularly at the discourse level is essential. Collaboration among SLPs, teachers, specialists, and parents will impact student progress and academic & social success the most!

Using selections from narrative and expository text as well as real-life social situations, the presenter will show specific examples from Grades K-5 CCSS and how to provide differentiated instruction and intervention to help students meet these specific Standards using Story Grammar Marker®, Six-Second-Stories and ThemeMaker®. The presenter will also provide demonstrations and model effective interventions for Reading, Writing, Speaking & Listening, facilitate targeted discussions and conduct practice sessions for narrative & expository writing, oral language, and reading & listening comprehension strategies. All of this will be interactive and involve several “make and take” activities.

The goal is for ALL students (including those with identified disabilities, those who are English Learners, those who are “at risk” and those children with Autism) to receive the most effective interventions to help them to develop the communicative competence necessary to meet grade-level standards, achieve academic & social success and be prepared for college and/or career. Through collaboration among SLPs, teachers, and specialists all using Story Grammar Marker®, Six-Second-Stories and ThemeMaker® methodologies to provide intervention in oral language development; this goal can be attained.

Learner Outcomes:

As a result of attending this workshop, participants will be able to…

MindWing’s Data Collection & Progress Monitoring Process: Linking MindWing’s Tools To the Teaching-Learning Cycle

Appropriate for Educators of Pre-K - Middle School
Required Materials: MindWing’s Data Collection and Progress Monitoring Set (Click link for Set description/details)

MindWing’s tools such as SGM®, Braidy®, TTWWTL™ and ThemeMaker® provide the intervention necessary for oral language development, comprehension, writing, critical thinking, and pragmatics. With a national focus on DATA and with Response-to-Intervention initiatives, there is a need for tracking student progress & collecting data inform instruction. It is the analysis, interpretation, and use of the data that ultimately makes the difference for the child!

MindWing’s Data Collection and Progress Monitoring Process™ was created for use with MindWing’s tools and it includes Assessment Protocols such as: progress monitoring forms & charts, narrative sampling guides, checklists & rubrics for pre-school through middle school, goals & benchmarks and MindWing Concepts’ Authentic Assessment. These protocols include observation of dramatic play scenarios, simple picture walks, personal narratives, and children’s drawings, telling, retelling, and writing stories and answering literal and inferential questions. These assessment/data collection tools will add to your language sampling toolbox, thus strengthening your expertise in making connections between language assessment and the language/literacy applications required for academic and social success in the general education classroom. Participants will examine student work and children’s literature to assess the Stage of Narrative Development. The presenter will share various oral and written language samples to be analyzed by participants. The presenter will also provide guided practice in using the assessment and progress monitoring forms.

Data Collection & Progress Monitoring Process can be used with children in pre-K through high school in regular education settings as well as those working with children with language learning disabilities, English Language Learners, children with ASD and those who have been victims of trauma, neglect and/or abuse. This workshop includes a MindWing’s Data Collection & Progress Monitoring Process™: Linking MindWing’s Tools To the Teaching-Learning Cycle Set and your choice of a Braidy Kit®, and SGM® or ThemeMaker®. * Please note: This workshop is meant for a follow up after participants have attended another MindWing workshop such as: Braidy®, SGM®, TTWWTL™ and/or ThemeMaker®.

MindWing’s Data Collection & Progress Monitoring Workshop Topics/Agenda

Holding Stories in Your Hand: Improving Language and Communication in DHH Students Who Use ASL

Appropriate for: Teachers of the Deaf or Hard of Hearing and SLPs in Elementary and Middle School
Required Materials: Holding Stories in the Palm of Your Hand Manual and SGM® Kit (Click link for Manual and Kit description/contents)


This workshop will discuss The Deaf Child’s Bill of Rights Law and evolution, implementation of Story Grammar Marker® methodologies in a school district and collaborative creation of tools assessing unique language and communication skills of Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH) students using American Sign Language (ASL) for narrative macro/micro-structure development.

Children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH) have a unique set of language and communication needs. The ability to effectively assess and provide intervention for DHH students using ASL is essential, not only because of laws and mandates but to help DHH students be successful in school and in life. In order to do so, they must be proficient in reading and writing English despite the fact that English is their second language and very different than other second languages in that it differs greatly in its microstructure.

Unfortunately, 90% of deaf children have hearing parents and many of them don’t know how to sign. These children are at a disadvantage for being able to develop a strong first language, and along with that, any metalinguistic knowledge of that language. Many of them enter school without any first language (no strong ASL foundation) at all and are then expected to read and write in English. In spite of the IDEA initiative (1975), the central role of communication and language in both personal growth and academics for people who are DHH was not fully understood so the NAD set forth eight goals, one of which is Language and communication access for DHH students.

The presenters will demonstrate, through videos of students, how to assess micro- and macrostructure and collect data on DHH students using American Sign Language. It is important to define narrative Macrostructure and Microstructure and distinguish the difference between Macro- and Microstructure for English vs ASL. The macrostructure for narratives is common to both languages and thus can be compared, however, students who are DHH who are learning ASL are learning a language with a microstructure very different from English. The microstructure for ASL therefore must be assessed differently. Where in English the microstructure is in the form of the types of words used, in ASL the microstructure is not only seen through words, but also through the way signs are made. Assessment of areas of ASL microstructure that will be demonstrated in this presentation include:

  • Spatial Referencing
  • Classifiers 
  • Verbs 
  • Sentence Structure 
  • Negation 
  • Handshape 
  • Location 
  • Movement 
  • Non-Manual Markers 
  • Conjunctions
  • The presenters will model intervention using Story Grammar Marker® and children’s literature and participants practice assessment and intervention using samples of children’s literature. A study by Strong and Prinz (1997) argued that ASL fluency facilitates reading development in English. Many other researchers have also suggested that there is a significant correlation between linguistic competency in signed languages and reading competence. ASL fluency provides the child with a linguistic foundation that enables development of literacy skills in English. Children with a strong first language in ASL are able to use metalinguistic skills to be able to apply it to the English language, thus helping them to become more successful in school and in life.

    Learner Outcomes:

    Oral Discourse Strategies: Increasing Academic Language and Student Engagement

    Appropriate for Educators Working with Elementary and Middle School

    ****This is an advanced level workshop for professionals who are already using MindWing’s methodology in their classroom and/or practice****

    Required Materials: Oral Discourse Strategies Kit (Click link for Kit descriptions/contents)


    Dive in the Depths of Knowledge, Stretch Vocabulary and Sentence Structure and Climb to More Complex Thinking! This workshop is for professionals who are using MindWing’s methodology with narrative and expository text. In is an advanced level workshop, in that it brings the concepts in MindWing’s methodology to the next level and pairs it with Webb’s Depth of Knowledge, Bloom’s Taxomony and the concepts from the work of Robert Marzano as well as with Reciprocal Teaching strategies.

    The broad focus of this workshop is to help students become successful learners through Discourse and Thought Development expanding upon Story Grammar Marker® and ThemeMaker® methodologies. Cotton (1992) stated that “successful learners are knowledgeable, self-determined, strategic, and empathetic. In addition to having knowledge, motivation to learn, confidence about themselves as learners, tools and strategies for acquiring, evaluating and applying knowledge; successful learners also have insight into the motives, feelings, and behavior of others and the ability to communicate this understanding – in a word, empathy” (Cotton, 1992). Based upon reciprocal teaching and learning strategies, the presenter will share concrete ways to guide students as they engage in complex projects and academic tasks through explicit instruction in the structure and use of discourse processes. Deepening student knowledge through discourse language development is a key to student engagement and creating successful learners.

    Student Engagement is a strong predictor of academic success. As students engage in complex projects and academic tasks, it is necessary to use oral language as well as written language to analyze, interpret, communicate differences in opinion and at times, to argue a point of view. This poses difficulties for many students including those who have communication disorders and learning challenges. It requires educators to give students strategies to increase cognitive demand (achieve rigorous thought) which is the higher order thinking required to read, analyze and communicate (verbally and in written form) invarying degrees of complex thought contained in academic publications of various modalities. Many students, regardless of diagnoses need active modeling of such strategies as well as communication/pragmatic techniques. The presenter will demonstrate macrostrategies that explicitly teach how to help a student to develop and :

    In this workshop, the presenter will provide activities to use as you introduce each strategy of the macrostrategy grouping (Marzano, 2012; Ritchhart et al, 2011). Using Reciprocal Teaching (Palincsar & Brown, 1984) as a model, the strategies are:

    The presenter will model and give examples of each strategy and participants will practice with their make and take materials for use with implementation with students. Although there is an order to the presentation of each strategy, the ultimate goal is for students to choose a strategy or strategies to “fit” the content that they are reading, viewing or listening to. Thus, they will need time to process, retrieve, organize, formulate and express. This macrostrategy coupled with deepening the understanding of narrative and expository text structures will assist them in acquiring the depth of knowledge.

    Learner Outcomes:

    Participants will be able to…

    Rationale for the Purchase of MindWing’s Instructional Materials

    The experience of 25 years of providing hundreds of workshops is the reason that we publish and require the purchase of our materials. We would be remiss if we did not share with you how our tools make the difference between a “presentation” and a “professional development workshop.” It is our standard practice to provide “professional development workshops” complete with materials in our workshops for each participant; for a combination of guided practice, discussion, lecture, demonstrations, videos, modeling and small & large group activities. We have participants use the materials during the workshop and after that for instruction and intervention with their students.

    1. The Story Grammar Marker® tool was invented in 1991. Over the past 20 years, we have provided professional development to thousands of educators throughout the US and Canada. It is the research-base, lessons, theory, maps and activities in the manuals & included tools in the KITS OF MATERIALS that are the key to effective implementation of workshop content; with explicit, systematic instruction and intervention.
    2. Many presenters provide much theory and research during their presentations. Maryellen has created these multisensory, visual, kinesthetic, child & teacher-friendly materials so that educators could immediately deliver the theory & research of workshop content in the most effective way to their students for both instructional and intervention purposes.
    3. From a Return on Investment perspective, the goal of PD is staff collaboration, student progress and increased skills. Therefore, if the professional development content is implemented with materials designed to be most effective & implemented with fidelity – than the better the chances are for it to be most successful for collaboration and student improvement.
    4. Receiving the materials builds momentum in the workshop, allows for guided practice and reinforces to the staff that the administration has invested in them; giving them the tools they need to be successful! On the rare occasions that we have waived the materials requirement, it has sometimes resulted in a lack of or weak implementation. Another problem has been that the group that does not receive materials may not “take ownership” of what they are learning because they feel that they don’t have the tools to implement it, therefore they do not implement it.
    5. Participants LOVE the materials – from the hands-on nature of the tools to the activities, lessons, maps and guides in the books!!
    6. Please note: If your participants are coming to the professional development in “teams” we can customize a combination of Kits and other materials to best fit the needs of your staff or participants.
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