QAR Strategies: Sentence Stems & “In Your Head” Questioning

Providing “sentence stems” is one of many strategies commonly utilized to assist ELL’s as they navigate language.  Like many ELL strategies, this is something that all students can benefit from.  The concept behind sentence stems is to develop open-ended prompts that support dialog & questioning, or (for our Level 1/Entering ELL’s) simply ensure that student responses are complete sentences.  This can be as simple as modeling the stem: “I think that ___” as a standard response; however, as we develop sentence stems we must ensure that students interact with all levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  Sentence stems can also be utilized to support In Your Head questioning as we conference with students and share “think alouds” to model that good readers ask questions while they read (see last week’s piece on metacognition).

This chart contains sample In Your Head questions that can be utilized during reading conferences and can be adapted into a student friendly form/checklist as we ask our young readers develop questions independently.  Consider the role this can play in written “reading response” routines…



Sentence stems can also be broken up into a series of “I Can’s” that promote student-to-student dialog (see my entry on “Conventions of Language”), or into lenses that facilitate comprehension and frame student thinking (such as “The Five E’s”).

Student-to-Student Dialog:

  • I agree with ____ because…
  • I disagree with ____ because…
  • I want to add to what _____ said…



As we promote metacognition, consider the role that anchor charts (both large and small) can play in supporting/modeling independent questioning and reflection.




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One response to “QAR Strategies: Sentence Stems & “In Your Head” Questioning

  1. Pingback: The Standards for Mathematical Practice, Part 1 | The Curriculum Corner

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