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Learning Targets

Students will:

  • Create sentences using vocabulary words.
  • Share new sentences with peers via an online environment.
  • Write sentences in notebook.



  • In addition to communicating with students directly, reach out to parents via email or a parent-teacher communication app.
  • Invite multilingual families to create sentences in their home language.
  • Encourage students to brainstorm or find words from around the house and create new sentences that are creative or humorous. Students can also find a book, magazine, newspaper, etc., and pull brick words from there to create sentences.

How To

Before Activity:

  • Select 3-5 related vocabulary words or key terms.
  • Differentiate word lists for groups of students based on language and reading proficiency.
  • Decide options for students to share their learning and completed sentences.
  • Write a few sample sentences to use as models, highlight the “bricks” or focus words.


During Activity:

Share the learning target with the students via an online classroom, as a pre-recorded message, or as an email or text message.

Synchronous setting: 

  • Define the word “bricks” which are the focus words, and “mortar” which are the connecting words.
  • Model an example in the online classroom or in a prepared presentation with words that the students already know, highlighting the “brick” words.
  • Show students the word list of “brick” words and tell them to choose a few words and fill in the rest of the sentence with their own "mortar" words.
  • Students can write their sentences in a common document online and/or verbally share their sentences in an online setting. If time and technology permits, allow them to discuss different ways they can make sentences.

Asynchronous Setting:

  • Share a list of familiar academic words as “bricks” with students via online classroom, email, or in printed form. Include an example sentence with one or more “brick” words.
  • Set expectations for the number of “brick” words to use and the number of sentences to create.
  • Ask students to choose one or two  “brick” words, and add additional words as the “mortar” to make meaningful sentences.
  • Students can share their sentences with someone at home, and/or submit to the teacher and peers via an online learning environment.

Quick Tips

  • If word lists are differentiated, synchronous online discussion times may be different for each group.
  • Be purposeful in choosing your terms. Select vocabulary that students understand the meaning of and have seen previously in lessons.
  • When working independently, many students may opt to select “brick” words that are familiar to them, as opposed to selecting new and unfamiliar words. Remember that the focus of this activity is to use words and connectors to create a sentence that is meaningful and adheres to grammar rules. Celebrate small successes!
  • Students can refer to the online resource provided for a review of sentence structure.

Evidence of Success

  • Students are adding the “mortar” terms and phrases independently.
  • Students create grammatically correct sentences that show understanding of the “brick” words.
  • Students demonstrate flexibility with their thinking and shift the words as necessary.

Watch Out!

  • Correcting students on subject-verb agreement and verb tenses could raise anxiety. If reviewing sentences synchronously, model correct grammar, especially if it changes meaning.
  • If students are very frustrated they probably don’t have enough knowledge of the vocabulary words. Connect with the student independently and provide additional resources.
  • Sentence structure in other languages may vary from English. Accept all variations of sentence structure and connect with students to explicitly teach.

Support Suggestions


  • Initially provide familiar words to create sentences and then gradually encourage them to begin using content area words.
  • Ensure the use of online dictionaries and glossaries in order for students to understand the meaning of the words they are being asked to use.
  • Encourage students to keep a notebook of new vocabulary and write a corresponding sentence. Notes in their native language will enhance metacognition, increasing the chances of internalizing the definitions.


  • Allow for the continued use of online dictionaries and glossaries in order for students to understand the meaning of the words they are being asked to use.


  • Encourage students to use their brick words to write multiple sentences or a paragraph.