Focus on Five: Writing Social Stories

Recently, my school changed our schedule to accommodate hybrid learning. I also had some new students and families join my class.  With both of these things in mind, I decided that utilizing social stories would help prepare everyone for the schedule changes and get everyone on the same page expectations, roles and responsibilities. While there are really great, already created social stories (check out The Autism Helper’s Social Stories), sometimes we need to create very specific social stories based on a student or school specific event.  Here are five steps I use to write social stories…

1. Determine the Purpose & Audience 

Thinking of all the changes with the schedule, educating new families and informing staff roles, I created a social story about different types of learning (whole group, small group and independent work) and one more specific story about the change to our specialty classes schedule.  Writing it in the form of a social story is a great way to explain to students about the different models of learning, while informing staff and adults in a whole group/training format.  Creating these social stories, it actually helped me to be able explain educational concepts to people without an education background in a way that could be easily understood and without a lot of jargon.  You can also think about what format you might want to use-multipage page or single page, electronic or hardcopy. Currently, I am still teaching remotely, so I create my social stories in a Google Slide presentation.

2. Write It Out

I write out the story in a Google Doc before I add pictures and format the story into Google Slides. I will type which sentence or sentences will go together on a page and then put the sentence or group of sentences that go on the next page on the next line with a space between. One advantage I have found of doing this way is being able to get a sense of how the story would read across pages. Another advantage is that I can revise the page order more easily. 

3. Read It Aloud & Revise

Reading the social story aloud is really helpful in catching errors and getting the wording to make sense.  Reading it aloud to someone else, like a colleague or a non-teacher friend or family member, can also provide great insight.  At this point in the revision process, I change the page order by copying, cutting and pasting sentences in a different order.  Changing the page order at this stage prevents me from having to think about it when I am putting the story into Google Slides. 

4. Format, Visuals & Videos

After I have read aloud and made any changes to my writing, I will copy and paste the sentences into Google Slides. Depending on how I’m working that day, I may add pictures to the slide show page-by-page, or just wait until the end to add all the pictures.  I usually use LessonPix for most of the pictures in my social stories, however, I will do a Google image search if I want a photograph or something that is not available on LessonPix.  I actually included videos in the last social story I wrote from Go Noodle (Follow Instructions and Fit the Sitch) in order to make the social story more interactive and to provide students a movement break.

5. Continue to Reflect & Revise

Something I am working on is continuously reviewing materials I have created for my students. Being a teacher, I know that we have so much on our plates and it’s hard to find time to revisit a material or presentation we have previously made. If it’s a digital resource you are planning on using often, I think it’s worth revisiting. Creating social stories on Google Slides makes the process of revising so much easier and I can utilize the same base materials year-to-year. 

I hope this post is a helpful resource for writing your own social stories.  For more on social stories, check out Meredith’s recent post Utilizing Social Stories.  Please share any tips or tricks you have for writing a social story. Stay healthy and safe!


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