Using sentence starters and sentence frames is one strategy to support students in speaking, reading, and writing. A sentence starter is when you give students the beginning part of a sentence and they fill in the rest. A sentence frame is when there are blanks inside a sentence that students fill in. Here are some ways to use sentence stems and frames as a scaffold to support your multilingual learners (MLs).
Sentence stems are helpful for getting students started with speaking or writing about a topic. For intermediate and advanced language learners, encourage them to give longer responses. A beginner might only use one word to finish the sentence frame, and a newcomer might point to pictures instead of speaking.
Sentence frames are great for practicing parts of speech and modeling correct grammar.
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Support Newcomers & Emergent Readers
Simple sentence starters allow students to read or say a basic sentence and then fill in their own information. You can use them as a way for students to practice new vocabulary. They use the same sentence starter and fill in new information each time they read the sentence.
I like _______. Go to the ______.
Word banks and Pictures
Word banks, and word banks with pictures are additional scaffolds that support vocabulary development. A newcomer may point to the pictures to complete a sentence stem or sentence frame. A beginner might remember the English word for a picture but not yet be able to read it. An intermediate student might need support with spelling content vocabulary words.
Teach Grammatical Structure
Use sentence frames to model grammar structure and practice parts of speech. Include which part of speech a student should use as part of the sentence frame for intermediate students. For newcomers and beginners, show words and pictures that are the correct part of speech for them to choose from.
You can also set up sentence starters to model the correct grammatical structure that you want students to practice. The verb is an important part of the sentence starter.
(past) Yesterday I went ________.
(present) Now I am ___________.
(future) Tomorrow I will _________.
Teach Academic Language
Sentence starters or sentence frames can support all students in learning academic language. You can include academic language terms that you want students to practice in a sentence stem as a way for students to practice using the new term.
The main idea is ________.
The most important fact is ________.
The most important facts are ________.
A _______ is the same as _______.
A _______ is different than _______.
I can compare a ______ with a _____. They are both the same because _______.
Teach Content Information
Use sentence stems and frames to help students show their knowledge about content information. Include pictures and word banks to support MLs.
Can Have Are Charts
Use a can/have/are chart to help students organize important information about a topic. You can also have students fill out the chart as part of a unit assessment.
The grasslands are ______.
Beavers can _____.
Dinosaurs were ______.
Resources with Sentence Frames
Here are premade resources that have built in sentence frames or sentence stems and pictures.
- Grassland Reading Passages
- Daily Routiene Reading Speaking Writing
- Sentence Starters and Picture Cards
- Label and Write Bundle
- Beaver Information Book
- Dinosaur Fact Sheets