Getting low English proficient students to show what they know can be challenging because of the language barrier. One of the most effective ways to build their confidence and let them show what they have learned and understand is by using sentence frames.
What are sentence frames?
Sentence frames are simple sentence starters that allow ELs to focus on the information they are trying to communicate without having to worry as much about the sentence structure and grammar, which is already provided for them.
How can I use sentence frames?
I use sentence frames across all levels of English proficiency, but they look very different. For my newcomers, I use simple sentence frames for them to write about a picture using vocabulary we have learned. For example, after learning spring vocabulary, we wrote about pictures using the sentence frame, “I see a_____.”
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For my fifth grade students who are at a higher level of English proficiency, we recently used sentence frames to help them with a research project they were working on. They needed to write four sentences about a piece of art from the country they were researching. They wrote to complete the sentence frames: “This piece of art is named _____. It was made by __________ in the year ___________. It is _________. It shows _____________.”
These sentences helped my students not only to figure out what was relevant to say about the art they were looking at, but also to create grammatically correct sentences without several rounds of revisions.
Once students have been taught how to use sentence frames, they become confident and competent writers. I provide my lowest English students with a work bank as well to help them produce words to use in the sentence frame. Once students are ready to write without a sentence frame, they’ll ask to write something different, and my answer to that is always, “Yes!”
More Writing Options by HoJo
Are you looking for even more writing activities for your ELL students? Check out the writing downloads in HoJo’s shop. Most are editable so you can edit them to best fit your needs! And there’s even a FREEBIE!
How do you use sentence frames in your writing class? Do you see improvements in student engagement and participation in writing when you give them a sentence frame?
Rachel Haltiwanger is an elementary ESL teacher in middle Tennessee. She is passionate about making learning accessible for all students and giving English learners the tools they need to succeed. Check out her blog at thecozylearningcottage.blogspot.com for more tips and ideas! You can also find her on twitter, facebook, pinterest, and teachers pay teachers.