Monday, March 10, 2014

Tricks of the Trade Blog Hop: Teaching Transition Words and Connectors in Story Retell

Hi Everyone!

I'm so excited for this blog hop that I'm letting it take the place of last week's Weekly Wrap-Up Post, because what you'll see in this post is exactly what we did in therapy last week!  Many thanks to Nicole Allison and Allison's Speech Peeps for organizing everything!

The idea of this hop is to go "back to the basics," where SLPs can give each other tips for things that have worked for us. I cannot wait to read through all of the posts...I know I'll learn so much! (Isn't it just amazing how easy it is for us to collaborate with and learn from SLPs all over the world?!?!?!)

Many of you know how much I use Story Grammar Marker in my therapy. Literacy and story comprehension are so important, and I literally incorporate SGM into about every therapy session I possibly can. But after I teach the students to identify the different story elements, I need to transition them into story retell, both orally and in writing. When first learning to retell stories or make up new stories of their own, the students are so focused on including each and every story element that their stories are in bullets. One thing listed right after the other, without many (if any) connector/transition words. This is what their writing looks like:

My brother had a birthday. He got a transformer. We had cake.
It was good. It was fun. We were happy. The End. 

So now that the macrostructure is there (mostly), it's time to work on the microstructure. I always tell my kiddos that after they write the story, they have to go back and add things to make it flow together. To make it smooth and interesting. To make it more descriptive. To paint the picture so well, that someone who wasn't there will feel like they were. 

One of the first areas I focus on are the transition words. Transition words or conjunctions make a huge difference in how a story flows. They make a story sound less like bullet points and more like a story. They also mean the difference between simple sentences and complex sentences (Common Core, anyone?)

But teaching transition words to Kindergartners (especially Kindergartners with Autism) can be challenging. So the easiest way I've found to teach them is to teach them right along with sequencing activities. I start with the easy connector words (First, Next, Then, Last), and have the students use them to explain HOW to do something or HOW something happens. (i.e. Making peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, building a snowman, or how a caterpillar changes into a butterfly). 

With most younger children and especially those with Autism, visuals are a must. No matter what sequencing activity we are working on, I always make sequencing cards to go along with it. The sequencing cards show each step, and the students can practice putting the pictures in order. Once they are able to list each step or action (verbally and/or in writing), we add in the connector words. 

I made connector word cards for my students so they could physically use them as cues. This past week, we used them along with the book From Caterpillar to Butterfly, and learned how to orally describe and write about the butterfly life-cycle!

 The Kindergarten Autism Classroom Teacher and I co-teach a writing block twice a week. We use the same book throughout the week so the students can hear it multiple times, and we can take the time to examine and explore several activities that pertain to the story. Here, she took the sequencing cards and taped them to the chart she made to help show the students the order in which everything happens.

The students wrote one step per page and illustrated the step. (This particular student needs blocks drawn for him to write his words in, or else his writing will be illegible.)

This student practiced writing the last step, using the connector word "last." Then he finished his story by writing a one-sentence tie-up. (Butterflies are beautiful.)

These are the connector cards we use. There are several ways to use these. Sometimes we tape them to the board or chart paper as we write out each step or story event. Other times, we pass out a card to each student, and have them line up with their connector card and orally tell the event or next step when it's their turn. (For your older kids, you can play a game where they make up a story as they go. Each student says one sentence with their connector word in it. Their stories turn out so funny with all of the twists and surprise turns!) You can click the link below to see the Connector Cards in my TPT Store.

Connector and Transition Words for Writing and Story Retell

There are also several great Smart Board activities using connector words. In this particular activity, the students can slide connector words wherever they need them.

Once your students understand using the simple connector/transitional words in their story retell/writing, you can add new words (yesterday, however, although, the next day, later than night, first, second, meanwhile, finally, etc.) Take a look at the difference these words make in the writing sample below. P.S. This is the same kiddo who wrote the first sample just a month later.

Do you know about the butterfly life-cycle? First, the mother butterfly lays an egg. Next, the egg hatches and a caterpillar comes out. Then, the caterpillar goes into a chrysalis. Last, the caterpillar turns into a butterfly. Butterflies are awesome! 

Do you have a special way of teaching this concept to your students? 

Now for the fun part! Here's my letter! Write all the letters down and enter them in the Rafflecopter giveaway on the last blog in the hop to enter to win TPT gift cards!
 Click this picture to move to the next blog!
Click this picture to go back to the first blog.

Good Luck, and thanks for hopping by!


Post a Comment