This week I was teaching my target students to write on a topic and as usual, because these children are not great at forming correct sentences, I decided to give them sentence starters. Once we had our ideas in our mind, we tried to put them into sentences. I asked them to say them out loud using the sentence starters.
Each time they said the sentence aloud, they changed the beginning of the sentence. However they were very close to conveying the idea.
Can sentence starters sometimes act like crutches for children?
I feel they do. Sentence starters are perfect for children who have very limited English. By this I mean the ones who have not know simple structures to express themselves. Once the students begin to understand the semantic, syntactic and graphophonic systems, it is time to remove the crutches and let students give a go.
This is exactly what I noticed when teaching this group of students. Three of them in the group were wanting to get off the leash and discover, explore and experiment for themselves. They could not follow the beginnings of the sentence starters as they were now equipped with language that provided them more options to change the beginnings of the sentences. If they were asked to used the specific framework, they focussed more on remembering the words that they needed to say rather than creating a sensible sentence to convey their ideas.
I am excited about it and can see the visible difference that has happened in the learning of my students.