26 Sentence Stems For Higher-Level Conversation In The Classroom

26 Sentence Stems For Higher-Level Conversation In The Classroom

by Terry Heick

Note: You can purchase a similar, classroom-ready version of these stems on printable cards, if you find that useful.

Meaningful conversation can make learning more personal, immediate, and emotional.

During meaningful conversations, students are forced to be accountable for their positions, to listen, to analyze opposing perspectives, and to adapt their thinking on the fly.

There are many popular strategies for these kinds of conversations, each with slightly unique rules and applications. Among them are Socrative Discussions, Accountable Talks, Debate, and Literature Circles. Whichever strategy you employ, students need support.

It is sometimes argued that these kinds of conversations favor students that are confident expressing themselves verbally, and that’s hard to argue. But consider that academic writing favors gifted writers, traditional tests favor those comfortable with proving what they know, learning through technology favors students with a more diverse history of using technology, and so on.

And all can benefit from scaffolding so that students are given different levels of support–maybe unique tiers of index cards with easier to use or more natural stems–so that they can be successful on some level.

If you have any useful conversation stems, let us know in the comments so we can update the list!

26 Sentence Stems For Meaningful Conversation In The Classroom

Clarifying

Could you give me your thesis in one sentence?

Is it your position that…

To be clear, you’re saying that…

I’m confused when you say Z, Can you elaborate?

Paraphrasing

Put another way, you’re saying…

So you’re saying that…

Is it fair to say that you believe…

I hear you saying that…

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Agreeing

I agree with Y because…

Z’s point about X was important because…

The evidence for Z is overwhelming when you consider that…

X and I are coming from the same position.

Despite disagreeing about Y, I agree with Z that…

Disagreeing

I see it differently because…

The evidence I’ve seen suggests something different.

Some of that is fact, but some of it is opinion as well.

I agree that Y, but we also have to consider that…

We see Z differently.

Building On

Y mentioned that…

Yes–and furthermore…

The author’s claim that Z is interesting because…

Adding to what X said,…

If we change Xs position just a little, we can see that…

Summarizing

Overall, what I’m trying to say is…

My whole point in one sentence is…

More than anything else, I believe that…

sentence-stems-for-higher-level-discussion26 Sentence Stems For Higher-Level Discussion In The Classroom

9 Comments
  1. Sally johnson says

    This was so excellent! I tend to just answer question in class rather than turning it back to the students for discussion. I need to stop and reiterate what they are asking and open up the discussion to the other students. I could use this as a means of clarifying the actual questions! Great ideas!

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  3. Dlwhitemich says

    Good job! Don’t forget the types of stems that generate collaborative problem solving! For example: “If we want to find out X, how could we go about discovering the answer?” “What would (idea) look like?” “Can we come up with the steps to do…?” “What qualities do you need in a partner(s) to do X?” “Let’s anticipate the process to do….”

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