Thinking stems are a powerful tool for elementary teachers. They completely transform the way students respond to prompts and class discussions. Learn about what they are, why they are important, and how to implement them in your classroom below!
What is a thinking stem?
A thinking stem is a visual tool or model that supports students organizing their thoughts and framing their ideas so they can communicate their ideas clearly.
Why are they important?
Thinking stems are important because they help students organize their thoughts and start their idea. They are especially helpful for students with ADHD, speech and language learning disabilities, and other learning differences.
10 Thinking Stem Examples
Below are some examples of how you can use them in your elementary classroom:
Thinking Stems for Reading
Here are some examples of for reading:
- If I was the main character of the story, I would…
- After reading this page in the story, I am wondering…
- I think the author included this information in the story because…
Stems for Math
Here are some examples of for math:
- One strategy I used to solve this problem was…
- I predict the answer is going to be larger than… because…
- One math tool I could use to solve this problem is…
General Thinking Stems
Here are some examples of general stems:
- I am having trouble understanding…
- One thing I want to learn more about is…
- I agree with… because…
- I am curious about…
How to Use Thinking Stems in your Classroom
Below are 3 ways for how to use them in your elementary classroom.
1. Write or project them on a white board.
Simply write a stem on the board or project it from your computer using your projector to help students articulate their thoughts during a class discussion. This is a great option for when you are finding that students need extra support while you are in the middle of a lesson. It’s also great for if you are using a stem that is specific to the lesson for today.
2. Write them on an anchor chart.
If you are working on making on a unit on making predictions for reading, then you may find that you want to save a stem for the unit so posting it on an anchor chart that you can pull up each day would be helpful. An example of a stem for the predicting unit is, “I predict…”
3. Provide students with a thinking stem bookmark.
A thinking stem bookmark is a great option for when students are reading with a partner or group at home or in school. It doubles as a bookmark and a model for how to frame their thinking. Learn more about it below!
What is this bookmark resource?
These thinking stem bookmarks were created for children to use while reading to improve student comprehension by encouraging them to generate questions. The answers to these questions are inferred. They require the reader to make predictions or to formulate new beliefs and ideas. I specifically created them to be used when my students are reading books for their book clubs and reading partnerships.
What is included in this resource?
The Thinking Stems Bookmarks Packet includes 4 printable pages of bookmarks. Two are in color and 2 are in ink-saving black and white.
How to use these bookmarks in your classroom
These thinking stem bookmarks are a great tool for elementary teachers. I specifically created them to be used when my students are reading books for their book clubs and reading partnerships.
In closing, I hope you found this information about thinking stems helpful! If you are interested, check out the thinking stem bookmarks as well as the Book Buddies: Book Clubs and Reading Partnerships Packet that I created to go with it. It includes Common Core aligned printables for grades 2-5. They make book partnerships in the classroom easy and effective.