Monday, August 13, 2012

SGM Day One: An Introduction to Story Grammar Marker

Hi Friends! 

Welcome to Story Grammar Marker week on the blog! As I’ve said before, the Story Grammar Marker (SGM) materials are my favorite materials in my entire bag of materials. If I could only choose one type of material to use as an SLP for all of the kids on my caseload, SGM would be an easy choice! Not sure what SGM is? Have you heard of it, but need a refresher? Are you using SGM and like to hear how others are using it too? Then stay tuned this week as we discuss everything Story Grammar Marker!

SGM, by MindWing Concepts Inc., provides tactile and visual cues to teach story elements and discourse both orally and in writing. According to their website, MindWing’s conviction is that “every child regardless of age, ability or culture - can benefit academically, personally and socially from building his/her Discourse Skills.”  The goal of their methodology “is to help children think and communicate.”
I have been blessed to have been a part of SGM training taught by Mary Ellen Moreau, the creator of SGM and the President of MindWing Concepts, Inc.  I have taken the 2-day workshop on Braidy the Storybraid and SGM, the Data Collection Training, Autism Training, and the Talk to Write, Write to Learn Training. Each of the trainings are wonderful, and if you ever have the chance to learn first-hand from the “Pro,” I highly recommend you take advantage of the opportunity!
We’ll start today with introducing the icons included on the Storybraids and Braidy, which is typically how I begin teaching SGM. Braidy is usually used for the younger kids, and the Storybraids are used for the older kids. But the beauty of this program is its flexibility-you can use it however it works best for you and your kids. I allow the kids to touch and hold the materials. Braidy has different facial features that the kids can change to make him feel differently (mad, happy, sad, surprised, scared, or disgusted). The more they explore, the more they learn! The head represents the character. The star represents the setting. The shoe represents the “kickoff” or initiating event. The heart represents the feelings of the character. The hand represents the character’s plan. The sequencing beads represent the attempts of the plan. The ribbon-tied bow represents the direct consequences (did the plan work?), and the heart beads represent the resolution of the story. 

Here's an example of a short story I use to introduce SGM: 
Every day after school (setting-when), Johnny (character), walked to the candy store (setting-where). One day on the way to the candy store, Johnny fell into a huge, very deep hole (kickoff).  Johnny was scared/terrified (feelings). He knew he needed help getting out of the hole (plan). First, Johnny pulled out his cell phone to call for help, but his phone was crushed in the fall (first attempt). Next, Johnny began yelling for help (second attempt). When someone came to the entrance of the hole, Johnny asked him to bring a ladder.  The helper didn’t have a ladder, so he called the fire department (third attempt). The fireman lowered a ladder down the hole and Johnny was able to climb out, unharmed (direct consequence). Johnny felt happy to be out of the hole, and very thankful for the help he received (resolution).
Depending on the students and their ability levels, it may take 2 days or 2 weeks for them to learn the icons. For the lower level kids, I start off teaching one icon at a time.  The students love the program, too.  Nothing is better than bringing out Braidy, and having Pre-K students holler out, Braidy is a character, with eyes, face, and a head!” They can also tell you that characters have feelings, and their feelings can change throughout the story. We’ll discuss the next steps and printable materials that are included in the program tomorrow.

For more information on Story Grammar Marker and related products, visit Tomorrow, we'll go more in-depth with SGM!


  1. I love story grammar marker! I use the concept in my story sharing, story structure development in reading comprehension, and when teaching students to write stories. I think the visuals, language, and tactile story braids connect to all learners. I just started blogging, and I would love it if you followed me!

    My Best,


    1. Thanks for sharing, Danielle. And thanks for sharing your blog address!