Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sentence frames make for richer discussions....

We can use as many structures and routines laid out by the experts to facilitate group discussions, but if your students don't have the language background...the discussions may be futile.

I know from which I speak.  My school is a wonderful school, but over the years we have increased in our low socio-economic population. With this population, comes deficits - most notably in language acquisition.  Now, don't get me wrong...I absolutely adore this population of students in my classroom! I learn as much from them as they do (hopefully) from me.  One of the things that I have learned from them is that best practices do work - but they need scaffolding. 

From my work with FOSS and SEEDS of Science I have learned just how important language scaffolding can be to truly understanding science vocabulary.  We know this is true and so we model when we write in our notebooks using sentence frames such as "I noticed...."  BUT have you ever thought about using sentence frames for discussions???

Last night I was reading from the folio on "Science-Centered Language Development" available on the new FOSS website and sat up in my bed and said .... DUH!  (really loud too)  On page 9 they suggest when leading a discussion, give the students the sentence frame as a model for discussion.  Did I just hear you say duh too!Why did I never think of that???? time you have a discussion and you want the students to talk with a partner or in a triad write a sentence frame on the board to facilitate even richer discussions.  I would start with only one or two (depending on the class make up) and then gradually add to them on a chart or poster. 
  • I think______________ because_______________
  • I predict ______________because________________
  • I claim________________ my evidence is ______________
  • I agree with _______________that ________________
  • My idea is similar/related to __________________'s idea
  • I learned/discovered/heard that__________________
  • (Name) explained ____________ to me
  • (Name) shared _______________ with me
  • We decided/agreed that _______________
  • Our group sees it differently, because ________________
  • We have different observations/results.  Some of us found ____________ while others think__________________
  • We had a different approach/idea/solution/answer _________
I think you will agree that this would benefit ALL of your students...not just a few. 


  1. I teach 6th/7th science and use "sentence framers" to help students write quality conclusions and hypotheses within their labs.
    I love this idea of using sentence frames for discussion! I will definitely be trying it out for discussions when I get a change. Thanks for the idea!

  2. Thanks for posting about how you use language frames in the upper grades! I just included a link to your post in my post advocating using language frames here: