Sentence Stems to Replace ‘I Don’t Know’, or ‘I Can’t’ (With Bonus Cards)
The implication of a question is that the student should have some kind of answer.
Although there is value in ‘knowing,’ there is lasting power in inquiry because it’s a student-centered and self-sustaining process.
‘I don’t know,’ then, isn’t just a starting point for finding an answer or a ready-made template for some academic essential question. Rather, it returns the learning to the student by disarming ‘not knowing,’ and underscoring ‘coming to know.’ Learning is a process.
Sentence stems can be powerful ways to give students the confidence to answer if they are uncertain. Print out the following sheets and encourage students to start with one of the suggested phrases instead of answering with ‘I don’t know,’ then brainstorm what their next steps might be.
Each stem contains a positive presupposition, which allows students to establish a more curious and empowered state of mind. Even if they don’t ‘find the answer,’ learning can be seen as an ongoing and highly personal process.
- 1 printable PDF of sentence stems in 4 colors
- 15 printable sentence stems in 2 sizes
- 1 binder card of sentence stems