What are Math Sentence Frames?

Math Sentence Frames are fill-in-the-blank sentences that students complete and recite orally. The following is an example of a series of sentence frames written for the Grade Seven NS 2.4 and Algebra I 2.0 standards:

1. The square root of _ _ _ is _ _ _.
2. Since the square root of _ _ _ is _ _ _, then _ _ _squared must be _ _ _.
3. If the side of a square measures _ _ _, then the area of the square is _ _ _. Therefore, the square root of _ _ _ is _ _ _.

In a math sentence frame activity students are presented with a sentence frame, are asked to fill in the blanks with numbers or words that they believe will make the sentence true, share their sentence with a partner or table group to check for accuracy, and recite their sentence orally to their group or whole class. Variations of the activity include having table groups repeating each students sentence and engaging the whole class in call-and-response for a series of sentence frames.

In the example above, students complete the first sentence frame with math facts related to square roots. In the second frame, they complete a sentence that is more complex in both language (use of the logical connector "Since" in an if-then statement) and math concept (the inverse relationship between the square root and squaring function). In the third frame, the language becomes even more complex, and the mathematics relates to the geometric interpretation of square root. With each sentence frame, the student will speak and hear many examples of the sentence as they practice the oral language of mathematics.