The Value of Narrative Text Structure—Beyond Beginning, Middle, and End
“To help children gain success with reading, it is necessary to focus on comprehension early in their experiences. Much of this interaction can and should be done orally; it can’t wait for children’s word skills to catch up with their conceptual skills” (Beck & McKeown, 2002). In fact, the National Reading Panel (NRP, 2000) identified explicit instruction in story structure as one of seven comprehension strategies having a "firm scientific basis."
Students' understanding of narrative structure is the foundation for text comprehension and as such, is predictive of reading comprehension. An effective tool for teaching text structure is The Story Grammar Marker (SGM) which among other things, "reduces the load on working memory by externalizing the global structure and sequence of components in stories" (Westby, 2003). Students who aren't able to use the traditional beginning, middle, and end story maps because they are vague and abstract benefit from SGM which teaches them inferencing skills through the "critical thinking triangle"—the kick-off (initiating event), characters' feelings (internal response), and development of a plan (goal).