5 Reasons to Assess (and improve) Narrative Skills

5 Reasons to Assess (and improve) Narrative Skills

Assessing and improving students’ narrative skills is vital for speech-language pathologists to do. Whether you do this orally or in a written format, there is so much information you can gain. And improving your students’ narrative skills will help them make progress in a variety of academic areas over the year! Why should we do this routinely? Check out these 5 reasons below.

improve narrative skills. online resources, speech therapy

Why should we assess and improve narratives?

Many speech/language skills are incorporated in narratives.

Besides the fact that this is an essential basic skill for conversations, discussion, and writing, you can see:


1. how well they retrieve and organize information while staying on topic.

2. if there are word finding issues.

3. what is their level of sentence complexity.

4. if there are grammatical errors.

5. how well they carried over skills from the previous year, including articulation or fluency skills.

narratives, assessment, speech therapy 

Being able to tell a narrative is necessary for school success.

If your students are not able to relate familiar events in a sequential, understandable manner, how will they develop the discourse skills necessary for classroom discussions and written work?

How to Get Started with Narratives

There are so many ways to get started, but here are a few of my favorites. Whichever method you choose to use, remember to save your students’ first attempts so you can see their progress over the year.


Tell a Story

First, of course, check to make sure that your students can relate a personal experience. Why not do this using your computer?


If your school uses Macs, this is quick and easy to do! Let your students think about what story they want to tell. The less input you give, the more natural their story will be.


Then, open up QuickTime on your computer, following the steps in the photo.

language samples, narratives, using your Mac in speech therapy


Your students can make a movie of their story and QuickTime lets you save it! What a fantastic pre/post assessment!




Maybe your students need some guidance

narrative skills, speech therapy, free tips

What I did over my summer vacation is a school standard, but how about this idea that I found at Activity Tailor? Telling what you didn’t do over the summer has a nice twist, keeping your students engaged and letting them be creative! You also will see right away if they understand negatives.

Maybe your students would like to create their own comic strips. Mine loved Make Beliefs Comix! You can save their creations on your computer, or even print their strip to let them write the narrative for it.


Create a Story

fun speech therapy ideas, narratives

Can your students create a story when given a topic? Teachers use story starters all the time, but I like using unusual photos. They are a great way for students to build inference skills. Then follow up with having them tell their own story!

There are many sites fo odd photos. Try searching words like ‘unusual’, ‘strange’ and ‘weird’ photos to find some that appeal to you. A warning, though! Be careful about searching for a picture with your students. There are some that you may not want them to see.

Retell a Story

speech therapy, telling a story, narratives, free resource links

Book reports are a classic way that teachers use story retell. Help your students practice doing this with online sites that have quick stories to read and retell.

Younger kids may like the ones here.

And how about stories written by kids? You will find many choices for all ages at StoryBird.


Making Stories More Descriptive

narrative skills, speech therapy, free resource links

Maybe you have some students in your group who have basic narrative skills. Don’t leave them out! There are ways to incorporate other speech/language goals into stories, too!

Build vocabulary and parts of speech using photos at PicLits. Work on descriptive skills with the stories at Fun English Games. Of course, you can find ways to work on carryover of articulation skills at these sites, too!


Using online resources builds technology skills, too.

Are books a vital part of your planning? I can’t imagine doing without the physical format, personally, but teaching your students internet literacy is just as important. Students from disadvantaged homes may not have the same level of access to computers. So they especially need technology skills included in every aspect of school life.

Using online books and stories also lets us see if our students engage with them before purchasing the book. YouTube is a wonderful resource for checking out books before you buy them. And sometimes students are just happy to hear another voice or listen because it is online.

There are so many fun, free websites at all levels of skill! Improve your students’ narrative skills and check out this post to get even more ideas.

Does Technology Use Build Literacy Skills?

YES! It is an evidence-based strategy. Check out the results of this study by Ron Owston et al.  In their study called Computer game development as a literacy activity, they found that “Field notes and teacher interview data indicated that game development helped improve student content retention, ability to compare and contrast information presented, utilize more and different kinds of research materials including digital resources, editing skills, and develop an insight into questioning skills.”

Are you ready for using digital learning to assess and improve your students’ narrative skills? 

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I’m Linda, an SLP who loves helping you build effective communication skills for your students using strategies and visuals. Pictures are time consuming, so let me make your life easier!

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