Getting students to cite text evidence can be a difficult skill to teach. Strategic use of sentence stems, sentence starters or sentence frames can make all the difference. I’m going to use the example of the book Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love to illustrate my point.
This is an accompanying post to another post about questioning techniques to get students citing text evidence. Just as the questions you ask are really important for getting students to cite text evidence, the sentence frames you provide are also wildly important!
What are sentence frames?
A sentence frame is a sort of skeleton of a sentence that you can provide to students as a way to respond to a question. It can be the beginning of a sentence and the student needs to complete it. It could also be a sentence with multiple blanks for students to fill in. A blank could even be at the beginning of the sentence for students to fill in.
It’s not enough to just teach students how to restate a question!
Why not? If you want students to explicitly use certain vocabulary, you need to intentionally write your questions and sentence frames. You can’t include all of the vocabulary you’d love to see students use in a single question. If all you do is teach how to restate a question, then all you’ll likely see is vocabulary that’s in the question.
If you want your students’ writing to be more complex, you need to use sentence frames. Teaching students how to restate a question will likely mean that you only get a single sentence response. By incorporating sentence frames, you can teach students how to write complex sentences with an extended response. Your sentence frames could help a student write a one paragraph response.
Aren’t sentence frames only for ELLs?
For a long time, sentence frames were seen as an ESL strategy because it provided a framework for students to learn how to begin a written or oral response. They definitely still are. All students, though, are learning academic language. Some people say that all students are Academic Language Learners (ALLs).
If you want your students to use academic language and use complex sentences, you need to show them how to write that way. You show them how to write that way by using sentence stems.
Sentence Frames aren’t just for written responses
You may be used to using sentence frames when you want students to write. That’s an excellent time to use sentence frames. You should also use sentence frames when having class discussions.
I read in a book once that if your students can’t say it, they can’t write it. I wish I could remember which book it was, but it changed my teaching forever. I very rarely ever have discussions anymore without sentence stems.
How can you use sentence frames to help students cite text evidence?
Let’s take a look at my example of my lesson plan for Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love. You can get part of the lesson plan by signing up below!
If you are unfamiliar with this book, Julián is a child who daydreams about mermaids and life in the ocean. When he gets home with his Abuela, he sees the opportunity to dress up just like the mermaids he sees with his Abuela. What will Julián’s Abuela think about dressing up like a mermaid and the mess that Julián makes? She sees Julián and rather than get upset, she takes Julián to see more mermaids!
What gave Julián the idea to become a mermaid?
_____ gave Julián the idea to become a mermaid.
Julián decided to become a mermaid when/because____
What was Julián’s good idea and how did Abuela react?
Julián’s good idea was to_____ Abuela reacted by____
Was Julián a mermaid?
I believe that Julián was (not) a mermaid because in the text____
As I discussed in another blog post about questioning techniques, the question is very important when getting students to cite text evidence. Half of the time, planning out the sentence stems will show you if your question will elicit a response that requires the student to cite text evidence. If you can’t think of a sentence frame that will require text evidence, you probably need to rethink your question.
Sentence Frames that Require Students to Cite Text Evidence
In the text,____
___ because in the text,______
When the author said, “_____”
When (character) said/did_____
Try out these sentence frames using Julián is a Mermaid FREE
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Each one of my lesson plans uses sentence stems just like the ones in this lesson plan to get your students citing text evidence through both discussion and oracy techniques as well as in their written reading comprehension responses.