Strategies for Developing Effective Sentence Frames

The basis for an effective math sentence frame is the answer to the following question:

"What do I want my students to be able to say about _ _ _ , and how do I want them to say it?"

Take for example the following grade seven standard from the Algebra and Function strand:

4.2 Solve multi step problems involving rate, average speed, distance, and time or a direct variation.

If I want my students to be able to say something about how a certain distance traveled in a given amount of time defines a rate of travel, I might want them to be able to say something like:

"If a car travels 200 miles in four hours, the rate of travel for the car is 50 miles per hour."

Which could then be written as the following sentence frame:

"If a car travels _ _ _ miles in _ _ _ hours, the rate of travel for the car is _ _ _ miles per hour.

Developing a Series of Sentence Frames

When developing a series of sentence frames around one topic, the first sentence frame should be simple in both language and mathematics. The following example is related to the absolute value of a number (Grade Seven NS 2.5 and Algebra I 3.0):

1. The absolute value of _ _ _ is _ _ _.

In this sentence frame, the language and the mathematics are both simple. The student is asked to recall a math fact and make a declarative statement. In the second sentence frame, the student is asked to use the number line interpretation of absolute value to justify the declarative statement.

2. The absolute value of _ _ _ is _ _ _ because the distance from _ _ _ to zero on the number line is _ _ _.

In the final sentence frame, a formal definition of absolute value is used to justify the declarative statement.

3. The absolute value of _ _ _ is _ _ _ because the square root of _ _ _ squared is _ _ _.