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Engaging Students in STEM

Engaging Students in STEM: STEM Starters

Have you ever asked your students what a chart or graph means and heard crickets? Providing STEM sentence starters help students learn how to analyze their data.

Sentence starters help kids learn how to write a STEM analysis. They support higher language proficiency and better academic language and they also help students learn how to support statements with facts and evidence.

By either posting a list of STEM Starters in the classroom or taping them in STEM Notebooks, students can refer to them to build their language skills while they learn how to convey their knowledge about science.  Aside from providing scaffolding to help students learn this very specific type of writing, there are other benefits.

Benefits of Using STEM Sentence Starters:

  • Improved Communication: Sentence starters scaffold clear and concise communication in scientific terms. They help students move beyond basic descriptions and into explanations that demonstrate understanding.
  • Enhanced Analysis: Sentence starters encourage a more analytical approach to problem-solving by prompting students to consider observations, results, challenges, and justifications as they write.
  • Boosted Confidence: Sentence starters provide a safety net for students who might struggle to express themselves in scientific language. This can boost their confidence and willingness to participate in class discussions.
  • Vocabulary Development: Using these structures introduces students to new scientific vocabulary and reinforces the correct way to use them in context.
  • Promotes Critical Thinking: Sentence starters encourage students to think critically about the scientific concepts they are learning and how they can be applied to solve problems.

How to Use STEM Sentence Starters Effectively:

  • Introduce Gradually: Start with simpler sentence starters for younger students and gradually introduce more complex ones as they progress.
  • Focus on Specific Skills: Tailor the sentence starters to address the specific learning objectives of each lesson.
  • Scaffolding and Differentiation: Provide additional support for students who need it, and offer more challenging sentence starters for advanced learners.
  • Interactive Activities: Integrate sentence starters into group discussions, presentations, and written assignments.

STEM sentence starters are a valuable tool to help students develop their STEM communication skills. By providing a framework to start with, these prompts empower students to think critically and creatively solve problems.

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