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Spotlight on Strategies:Stem completion

Students create a T chart graphic organiser with the headings Image 1 and Image 2. Display a variety of sentence starters e.g. 'This animal's natural environment is a...' 'I believe this because...'. Display two images. Students complete their sentence stems using the images and background knowledge. Share.

Big idea

Students gain a greater understanding of content when they make authentic, personal connections to it. This strategy uses images and sentence-stem completion for students to make predictions, provide support, and make a personal connection.

Overview of strategy



two images, sentence stems, paper, pen/pencil

  1. Provide each student with a sheet of blank paper. Have students fold their papers in half and create a T-chart graphic organiser by writing Image 1 in the upper left portion and Image 2 in the upper right portion of the page, and a line separating the two columns.
  2. Display a variety of sentence stems (appropriate to the content) on the board and have students select three to which they will respond. Students should write their sentence stems on their graphic organisers. Examples:
    • This animal’s natural environment is a…
    • I believe this because…
    • I have seen this animal in my life…
  3. Display two images. Students should complete their sentence stems using the images and their background knowledge.
  4. Allow students to share completed sentence stems with a partner.
Sum it up

This strategy activates prior knowledge and uses information from an image to provide evidence for sentence stems.

More ideas
  • Students can use the provided images to start a multimedia project, using an online platform.
  • Allow students to complete a gallery walk of all of their responses. Have them analyse information for similarities, differences, and common vocabulary.
  • Have students create 6-word-stories about the images, by allowing each student to select his or her favorite image and writing a six-word (and only six-words) descriptive sentence that captures the essence of the image.

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