By the time students are in middle school, if they are writing an argument then they are expected to include words, phrases, and clauses that create cohesion in their writing. If they are writing to explain or to inform, they are expected to include appropriate facts, definitions, or concrete details.
Sentence stems are a great way to support students as their writing matures and develops. There are number of ways to utilize sentence stems in middle school classrooms. Sentence stems might be used in conversation or in student writing.
Often, students struggle with getting initial ideas on paper. If so, they might use the following sentence stems:
I noticed _______________________________.
_____________made me think about _______________ because _________________.
This reminds me of _____________________.
If you are planning to have students write initial thoughts and then build on each other’s thinking, you might have them swap papers with a partner. If students agree with each other they might say the following:
I agree with ___________________________ because _____________________________.
I found another example of _____________ on page ________________.
I like what you said about _____________, and I might add _____________________.
If they disagree, they might say this:
I disagree with _________________________ because ________________________________.
I noticed some of the same things, but I also thought ______________________.
You said _______________, and I think _____________________.
The sentence stems you choose should match your purpose for the student’s writing. Scaffold instruction, and review the sentence stems with the student before having them work independently. Use a think-aloud to model your own thinking when showing students how the sentence stems operate.
Want more sentence stem examples, including clarifying confusion and partner talk? Download my poster to hang in your classroom and help students organize their thinking. Support your middle school students with the use of these sentence stems for a variety of situations!