The English Classroom

A GUIDE TO IMPROVING STUDENT LITERACY

The Situation

Your students find it difficult to begin their writing.

The Solution

Some students may find it difficult to generate the ideas that have in their mind into a response on the page. While some students can articulate themselves verbally, this does not always translate well to their work.

To respond to this struggle, students should be provided with a sentence starter to get the proverbial ball rolling.

A sentence starter, or stem, is merely the first half of a sentence that students need to finish themselves. It gives students the appropriate vocabulary to be independent with their writing.

At the start of my teaching career, I thought this was akin to giving students the answer; however, I now understand that it is about providing students with a starting point that they need to finish.

Consider the following question:

Based on your understanding of the first 2 stanzas of The Raven, what is this poem about?

Here are a number of sentence starters that you may choose to use and record on the whiteboard for students.

  • Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven is about…
  • In the first stanza…
  • In the second stanza…

You might like to generate some generic sentence starters for different types of thinking, such as we explored in Bloom’s Taxonomy. Check out this one that I found on Pinterest, which might be great to have on the wall in the classroom:

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/31/1b/40/311b402dbee5bfef14e98e40dc34046f.jpg

Sentence starters are a necessary part of the writing process and getting students to be success with showcasing their ideas.

3 thoughts on “Formulating Ideas: Sentence Starters

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