Oral narratives and writing: An intervention BOGO!

Here are a few things we know about writing:

  1. It’s a really complicated, difficult skill that’s very important for school success.
  2. Writing abilities are correlated with oral language skills.
  3. Writing falls within an SLP’s scope, but many of us feel unprepared to tackle it, or find it hard to fit into short treatment sessions, especially with younger students.

What if I told you there was a way to improve your students’ writing without treating it directly? 

I’ll wait while you do your happy dance.

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Yes, friends, it’s true. This study found that 6 out of 7 first-graders who received a short course of small-group narrative language intervention (specifically Story Champs) “made clear and meaningful growth in writing quality… [and after] instruction, students included more story grammar elements in their stories, creating longer stories with complete episodes.”

Before you get too excited, keep in mind that this was a very small study*, and the children were not diagnosed with language disorders (although one had ASD and was on an IEP). We can’t necessarily assume the intervention would show the same benefits for kiddos on your caseload. Either way, narrative skills are something you’ll probably be addressing in therapy, so consider collecting writing samples to look for evidence of this *bonus* skill boost!

*A fun(?) aside: This study is an example of “action research,” where actual, in-the-wild, teacher/clinician-delivered interventions get the research-study treatment. This is what we all want—information relevant to what happens in the messy, wonderful, real world of teaching kids. Read the article to learn more about how the authors controlled aspects of the intervention to make it pass muster as an experimental study. Would you consider partnering with researchers to do something similar? ASHA gives grants for this type of thing!

 

Spencer, T. D., & Petersen, D. B. (2018). Bridging Oral and Written Language: An Oral Narrative Language Intervention Study With Writing Outcomes. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1044/2018_LSHSS-17-0030