Expanded Kernel Sentence Framework

Where Phrases

For the Elementary/Middle School Teacher

To start the lesson, the teacher writes an expanded kernel sentence framework across the blackboard: article plus noun plus action verb plus –ed plus where phrase. Note that the verb is in the past tense to teach inflection.

The teacher hands out the expanded kernel sentence framework. A sample of the framework and a sample script follow.


Teacher:  We have been working with prepositions, or position words, that tell the exact location of a picture tht depicts cowboys watching a herd of cattle on the plains. Let’s brainstorm a list of nouns before we compose the sentences. We’ll go around the room until we have six nouns. As soon as I write each noun on the board, you copy it onto your paper.  Be sure you write the word under the correct heading. I’ll come around and check your work. Bill, let’s begin with you, and then each of you will follow in turn.

Bill: Let’s see. Cattle. (The teacher writes “cattle” under “noun.” The class copies it.)

Sam: Sky. (The teacher writes “sky” under “noun.” The class copies it.)

Theresa: Cowboys. (The teacher writes “cowboys” under “noun.” The class copies it.)

Teacher: Nice work. Let’s go around one more time.

The class brainstorms three more nouns and the teacher records them as above.

Teacher: It is important to listen as each of you orally rehearses your sentence. Be sure you wait until each sentence is complete before you fill “the,” “a,” or “an”?

Bill: I want to begin with “the cattle.”

Teacher: Why did you select “the”?

Bill:  There are many cattle in this picture. I have to say “the” to refer to them.

Teacher: (Writes “the” under “article.”) Good thinking, Bill. What did the cattle do in this picture?

Bill: The cattle ate grass.

Teacher: Yes, that’s true, but what is a more specific word than “ate”? Watch my jaw. (Makes chewing gesture)

Bill: Chewed grass.

Teacher: (Writes “chewed grass” under “verb.”) Where did the cattle chew the grass?

Bill: On the prairie.

Teacher:  (Writes the phrase in the framework.) That’s right. Bill, read the sentence back. Then you may all copy it.

The class uses the same procedure to produce the rest of the expanded kernel sentences. Students use the nouns they select from the picture. The teacher guides sentence production with cueing strategies and guiding questions.

Excerpt from:
From Talking to Writing: Strategies for Scaffolding Expository Expression
by Terrill M. Jennings and Charles W. Haynes © 2002

Strategies to Download

Kernel Sentence Framework:

Expanded kernel sentence framework with article, noun, action verb-ed, and where phrase.


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