Friday, November 9, 2012

Systematic ELD Sentence Frames for Kindergarten

I have been working extra hard this year figuring out how to teach all of my ELL students now that our district has eliminated ESL teachers. We do a walk-to-ELD model now and sort students by their English proficiency levels. I keep the Beginners and Early Intermediate students (or level 1s and 2s). This ends up being 20 of my students. I have 7 more students who leave the room for a more advanced group.

We practice oral language through the I do, We do, You do gradual release model. Here are some of my charts that we've worked on so far.

During the first few weeks of Kindergarten we worked on asking for school supplies. This gave students language to make requests and start using adjectives (color words). I love how this also helped students learn to take turns and share materials.

Our next unit had a focus on using a variety of verbs to describe events. Pairs of students learned to ask and answer questions using the sentence frames listed.

Using action verbs was tricky for my students. However after lots of acting things out (pantomime) and using picture cards for support - my students could make requests using these language structures. 

Eventually I started tying oral language practice to the stories that I read for the week. Using the story of How the Birds Got Their Colors, my students learned to use the time words: First, next, and last to talk about when actions happened. I paired this activity with an oversized 3-square sequence graphic organizer. I put clipart pictures in each box labeled first, next, and last. Then students used the graphic organizer to retell the story in the correct sequence. I modeled the sentence structure with me acting things out before we brought the story to life. 

 I read the story In the Big Blue Sea to my class. It has great pictures of realistic fish. Then I introduced how to compare two things (in this case fish) using the comparative language "both." 

For example, I'd ask, Do both fish swim? Students would answer either, Yes, or Yes, They both swim. We brought this to life using students - I'd have 2 students stand up and ask questions like, Do both boys have green shirts, Do both boys have brown eyes, etc.

My next unit was about family members. I introduced families using pictures of family member posters that I printed from Sparklebox. I labeled them with family member's names. Using free clipart images of individual family members engaged in different actions, I displayed pictures and asked questions like, What is the mother doing? Students answered, The mother is sweeping, or the mother is washing, etc. 

I am really excited about how these ELD units are coming along. My students are feeling very successful and the language is carrying over into retelling stories. When do guided reading stories, I ask similar questions about characters and students are using complete sentences to answer. 

How do your ELL students get their required services? My ELD time lasts for 30 minutes every day.


  1. I like your sentence frames but I know my Kindergarten ELLs would not be able to do this. I could see doing this with my first grade ELLs but even they would have trouble. My only question is how do the kindergartens 'read' the sentences? How do they know what is a noun? verb? Thanks for your response! Nina

  2. Nina, that's a great question - I emailed you, but for others who might be curious - the students aren't reading the sentences so much as memorizing the grammar structures. They are written and posted more for me to remember what to say and remind me of the ELD standards that my ELL students are working toward. Sometimes I put clipart/picture cards in the blanks. I'm used to having large classes of beginning (new to the country) students and they definately are not reading the sentences, but they can produce the sentences after they hear them modeled.

    I use a lot of oral language practice activities that help students practice using the sentence frames - we do echo/repeat, turn and talk with your neighbor, fish bowl, lines of communication, and more so that they are speaking for at least 50% of the ELD time.

    With regard to the students knowing what is a noun/verb - they probably don't know them using those terms but I use scaffolding to bridge that gap - for example with the school supply lesson I get a basket filled with supplies so students can practice naming them. Then we will move on to having them say I need a ___ (and they get to grab a real object). Then they practice this at table groups and such. I don't emphasize the part of speech as much as give them examples of words that would be appropriate to fit in that blank space. A lot of times I'll generate lists with the students like say - what are some "things" you use at school.

    Sometimes I use pre-made picture cards that have particular actions, or I find clipart from that show specific actions. The students aren't expected to know the parts of speech, rather they are supposed to be able to be able to orally produce the syntactic structure of a modeled sentence such as in the sentence frames.

  3. Thanks for your quick reply! I think it's terrific that you are blogging about being an ESL teacher. It will help me become a better ESL kindergarten and first grade educator. I will be putting your site on to my 'favorites'. Thanks again!

  4. Thank you for sharing your eld ideas and strategies! It was very helpful. �� what eld program do you use in your classroom? I have 15 ell"a and 5 English only children.

  5. I don't use any "program," rather I use the Systematic ELD framework. and language routines. This document: from Salem, OR has a written description of many of the routines that I use. Right now I am using a thematic approach to teaching ELD. I get the language and "content" of my speaking from my theme of the week or 2 weeks. For example...I might read lots of weather books for reading block. Then when it's speaking time we will work on using describing the weather. This week I've been reading lots of Dr. Seuss books and our language goal is to use conjunctions. For example: "Cat rhymes with hat, but not dog." ___ rhymes with ___, but not ___. The vocabulary to fill in the blanks comes from the reading content. The language piece of the sentence structure come from specific language goals.


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