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Speech in the Schools

Book It, Part 12: Revving up the Actions!

Published September 12, 2011 10:10 AM by Sean Sweeney

Developing story grammar can have many great intentional side effects that would not occur if we are only focusing on the smaller (but important) things: vocabulary, morphemes, sentence structure. By aiming to develop story in our clinical work, we can establish an interesting context while still modeling and eliciting the microstructure of language. 

Indeed, the most recent ASHA Leader suggested this approach as resulting in more bang for our buck, particularly when SLPs are involved in RTI activities: "The SLP provides Tier 1 supports in the classroom through modeled lessons with the whole class. In Tier 2-3, the SLP provides small, group-intensive intervention that simultaneously targets story grammar and deficient language skills," (Rudebusch and Wiechmann, 2011).

Children who have language difficulties at the microstructure level often also have very limited ability to tell a story. For those who can give us some detail in a "heap" based on a context provided (e.g., a book or series of pictures), Rhea Paul suggests using books at the Action Sequence level, "in which there is a recurring theme but the order of events doesn't matter," (Paul, 2007). In doing so, we can scaffold students' ability to form a more sequenced, coherent narrative.

In doing so, I often like to pick books where there is a whole lot of action going on! In this way, we can reinforce children's comments, observations, and sentences that reflect what is going on in the book, without enforcing a defined sequence of events. A few excellent examples of visually stimulating books where exact sequence is less important can be found in Robert Neubecker's Wow! School! and Wow! City! (and others by the author).

These oversized books filled with vibrant picture scenes are great attention-grabbers for youngsters, and share a common character of Izzy, a redheaded girl who comes down "from the mountains" to attend school for the first time and to visit the city, respectively.  

 Wow! Bridge!

Check out Neubecker's website for more examples of his art.

Each page tells a story of its own, but overall can be woven into an elicited (and perhaps story-mapped) narrative of what Izzy does first, then, next, after that, and finally! The books have the added benefits of being filled with semantic and schematic information to help kids develop categories, and correspond with some curriculum themes such as communities.

I hope you enjoy Robert Neubecker's books as much as my kiddos and I have!


Paul, R. (2007). Language disorders from infancy through adolescence: assessment & intervention. Edinburgh: Elsevier Mosby

Rudebusch, J & Wiechmann, J. (2011, Aug 30). How to fit response to intervention into a heavy workload.The ASHA leader, 16(10), 10-13.


Read more of Sean Sweeney at



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About this Blog

    Speech in the Schools
    Occupation: School-based speech-language pathologists
    Setting: Traditional and specialized K-12 classrooms
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