Monday, November 14, 2011

What is a Sentence Frame?

A sentence frame is a method of scaffolding students as they build and develop their writing skills.  In our classroom, we have been using sentence frames to assist students in forming judgment statements which then become the main ideas for their responses to literature.  The sentence frames prompt students to think more deeply about text.'Scaffolding Erected at Cardinal Newman High School' photo (c) 2011, Anthony Shemmans - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

There are four basic areas in which students may make judgments about a literary work.  We have created sentence frames for each.

  • Compare and contrast books by the same author or with a similar theme:
_________________________________ and ____________________________, both by Chris Van Allsburg, have similar themes.

_________________________________ and ______________________________, both by Chris Van Allsburg, are two books with similar (settings, problems, solutions, characters).

EXAMPLE:  The Garden of Abdul Gasazi and The Polar Express, both by Chris Van Allsburg, have similar themes.  You're never too old to believe in magic.

  • Comment on the author's use of language and/or author's craft:
In _______________________________, Chris Van Allsburg does a great job including (sensory details, figurative language, description, pacing, creating a sense of mystery, etc.) in his writing.

EXAMPLE:  In The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, Chris Van Allsburg does a great job of creating a sense of mystery about whether or not Fritz was turned into a duck.

  • Comment on the literary elements of the work (conflict, objects, unusual events, character development, setting, plot, etc.).
In ___________________________________, Chris Van Allsburg uses ____________________ to deliver his message.

'broom' photo (c) 2009, Andrey - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/EXAMPLE:  In The Widow's Broom Chris Van Allsburg uses a broom to deliver his message of judging others by their actions.

  • Relate the work to a personal experience.
In ______________________________________ by Chris Van Allsburg, the character ___________________________ (describe what happens to the character).  I had a similar experience.  (Describe what happened to you.)  This helped me to understand the message because _________________________.

Once the sentence frame is written, students build their response around it, providing specific evidence from the text to support their thinking.  Writing a response to literature has many benefits.  Students develop analytical and evaluative skills, they increase their awareness of literary elements, and they begin to understand how writers deliver a message.

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