Since its creation in 1991, many researchers have cited and noted Maryellen Moreau’s work in the area of narrative development.


In 2010, Maryellen Moreau and colleague Linda Lafontaine, M.A., CCC-SLP, performed a study at a the school for dyslexic and language learning disabled children on The Effects of Story Grammar Marker® on Listening Comprehension and Oral Expression (below) and the study yielded statistically significant results which were presented at the American Speech Language Hearing Convention in 2010.

This study was done to examine if there was a significant increase in the listening comprehension and oral expression abilities of students diagnosed with a Specific Learning Disability (SLD) in reading and/or language who received Story Grammar Marker® intervention. Research suggests that children with a SLD in reading have difficulties with reading comprehension resulting from broad based language problems, and not limited to difficulties with word recognition (Gersten & Baker, 1999; Cain and Oakhill, 2007). It was long thought that once children acquired the basic ability to read words, they would automatically and without specific instruction, be able to understand whatever they could decode. However, research has shown that there are sources of comprehension difficulties that are independent of inadequate basic decoding and fluency skills (Gough, 1984; Gough and Tunmer, 1986). Gough’s Simple View of Reading, where reading is the product of decoding and language comprehension skills, is basic to this research study (Gough, 1984; Catts et al, 2003; Roberts, J. & Scott, K. 2006; Oakhill, Cain and Yuill, 1998). Researchers recognize the need for a specific instructional focus on comprehension (Block et al, 2002; Williams, 2005; Cain and Oakhill, 2007).

Moreau and Lafontaine (2010) focused on narrative or story comprehension as part of the discourse level of language development. Although most children are able to develop an understanding of narrative structure, students with SLD have less well-developed story schemata that may interfere with their ability to interact effectively with the text and make the necessary connections in order to comprehend (Gardill & Jitendra, 1999; Justice, 2004).

In addition, many students have been found to have difficulty with oral language expression and organization. These “at-risk” children often have trouble identifying, recalling and integrating important information presented orally (Moreau and Fidrych, 2007; Gersten & Baker, 1999; Cain and Oakhill, 2007; Catts and Kahmi, 2005). Their inability to internalize and access story grammar organization for comprehending and retelling narratives contributes to their difficulty communicating character’s problems, internal responses, mental states, plans, and attempted solutions to problems (Dimino et al. 1990; Gardill & Jitendra, 1999). Children of all ages use their knowledge of this narrative macrostructure to help them organize and remember important details. In addition, this knowledge serves as a transition to the expository text structures seen in social studies and science textbooks (Moreau & Fidrych, 2007; Westby, 1991). The explicit teaching of story grammar structure and the use of questions related to elements of the story serve as a framework to highlight connections which in turn leads to retention of story elements, improved verbal organization for retelling, and a deeper understanding of the story (Gardill & Jitendra, 1999; Gersten & Baker, 1999; Pressley, 1998).

Current research suggests that instruction employing multi-sensory tools promotes better learning outcomes, in general (Gardner, 1991). One such tool designed to facilitate a student’s success in the development of language and literacy is the Story Grammar Marker® and its Methodology. The SGM® was chosen for the study because it fit this criteria and is a visual, tactile and kinesthetic iconic manipulative designed to help students recall and sequence story details, think critically about the characters’ motivation, feelings, plan and mental states, infer information not directly stated, and predict future events in literature and life.

One significant research review describes the impact of Story Grammar Marker®:

Much research has been done on the importance stories/narratives hold in the area of language and literacy development. In fact, “we think in terms of stories. Not only do we understand the world in terms of stories we’ve heard, our interpretation of personal problems and relationships is influenced by stories of others who have experienced similar situations. Furthermore, we understand-and explain-just about everything in life through stories” (Schank, 1990). Keeping this in mind, it is important to understand that “narrative retelling is a useful task for predicting which children may be at risk for later literacy problems” (Wellman, 2001, p.561). According to Wellman (2001), narrative macrostructure, the overall structure and organization of a story or expository text piece, appears to play an especially important role in the development of later literacy skills and language intervention involving oral narratives, may increase children’s reading comprehension as well as carry over to later written language skills.

There are multiple studies regarding the SGM® that were presented at ASHA and on the ASHA website.

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