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Writing Grammar & Syntax Goals for Speech Language Therapy

language intervention tool for MTSS: a large-scale randomized controlled trial using story champs

Have you ever found yourself thinking "Where do I even start?" when it comes to writing grammar and syntax goals?


Don't worry, I've got your back! I have an awesome resource to share with you that will help identify and prioritize which skills to target.

The best part is - it's free!

Target Identification Spreadsheet

This handy color-coded spreadsheet was created by Susan Ebbels based on the available research on syntax and grammar that you can use to help identify grammatical targets for the children you work with!

Download the spreadsheet and read more about the research in The Informed SLP's article "The Grammar Guide You Never Knew You Always Wanted."

Here are the key takeaways from the article👇🏽

🌟 Research shows us the order we can target skills within an area (e.g. targeting who questions before why questions) but evidence is limited across areas (e.g. questions, negation, clauses).


🌟 The spreadsheet categorizes & color-codes all skills as foundational, basic, intermediate, and advanced, which helps you choose targets across areas (e.g. you may want to work on basic, orange colored skills across different areas before moving on to intermediate, blue colored skills).


🌟 You can target syntax goals even if morphology isn't perfected, and you can even tackle both at the same time (e.g. you might want to tackle complement clauses while working on past tense verbs, and you can create sentences using both skills).


🌟 We cannot assume that children who produce certain grammatical structures can also fully understand them, so you'll want to check for comprehension in addition to production.


🌟 Prioritize skills based on functional impact linked to the child’s age, ability level, & what they need to be successful in the classroom (e.g. during conversations with peers, while reading or listening to stories, writing, etc.).


🌟 Be flexible!

3 Tips for Using the Spreadsheet

1️⃣ Within the spreadsheet, you can hover over the items with a small, black filled-in corner for a definition and/or example.

2️⃣ The column headings are linked to the individual sheets for that category (see also the tabs at the bottom).

3️⃣ The individuals sheets include additional examples, explanations, prerequisite structures, and visual examples using the SHAPE CODING® system.

Targeting Grammar & Syntax Goals

Now that you know what syntactic skills to target, let's see how you can target these skills.

If you know me, you know I love using contextualized therapy approaches like using themes (e.g. seasons, holidays, zoo, space, dinosaurs) and the literacy-based therapy framework!

Here are some articles full of ideas for targeting syntactic skills in literacy-based therapy sessions:

Hope this has been helpful! 😊

About the author Sarah. Sarah is a pediatric SLP and the creator behind Speechie Adventures.


Ebbels, S., & Owen Van Horne, A. (2020). Grammatical concepts of English: Suggested order of intervention. The Informed SLP

Ebbels, S.H., van der Lely, H.K.J., and Dockrell, J.E. (2007). Intervention for verb argument structure in children with persistent SLI: a randomized control trial. Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research, 50, 1330–1349.

1 Comment

May 23

Thanks for sharing this! What a great resource! What setting are you currently practicing in?

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