English Learners in STEM: Realia Wall and Sentence Frames

English Learners in STEM: Realia Wall and Sentence Frames


In this video, 1st grade students are starting a weather unit. The teacher introduces the unit by having her students explore weather-related items. These items become part of the realia wall, where students can refer to them throughout the unit of study. After exploring the items, the teacher introduces sentence frames for students to use as a scaffold while discussing the items with partners.

Science is a vocabulary-intense subject that is dependent on students learning new and increasingly
complex vocabulary to deepen understanding and help them make connections between and among
concepts. The more opportunities students have to interact with the vocabulary, the better they comprehend the concepts.

In this video, the teacher uses two strategies to help her students.


  1. Realia Wall: combines real objects, models pictures, photos, labels and even student illustrations to serve as as a vocabulary- rich resource in a dedicated space in the science classroom where kids know to look for help with vocabulary concepts. It helps them build background knowledge and connect their learning to what they already know. It's much more engaging and interactive than a traditional word wall.
  2. Sentence Frames: provide a scaffold for students to use academic language by providing grammatically correct structure for sentences. Sentence starters are similar- they help begin the conversation, but frames are critical in providing the structure for a complete sentence.

A printable version of the sentence frames used in this video are available here.

Sentence frames