For most English Language Learners, content literacy (using reading, writing, speaking, and listening to gain new knowledge) depends on the proficiency in the language of the text, the majority of which is English (Carrier, 2006).
Sentence Walls/ Frames
Sentence walls/ frames are similar to word walls that are prominently displayed in the classroom. They provide a visual display of well-formed phrases and sentences, allowing students to communicate in classroom discussions about content. Sentence walls/ frames provide the language necessary for talking and writing about a given topic. It allows English Language Learners to become familiar with vocabulary and sentence structures. (Carrier, 2006)
- available for immediate use
- expands use of language (labeling and simple sentences to complex and grammatically correct statements)
- demonstrate knowledge of new concepts (assessment)
- helpful for struggling native English speakers in constructing well-formed sentences in their writing
- may create a challenge to develop questions and statements for sentence wall/ frame in advance
Developing Sentence Frames/ Walls
- Write sentences that express the target language function.
- Replace target vocabulary with blanks.
- Create a word bank of the words.
|Expected Outcomes||Simple Sentences||Comparative Sentences||Complex Comparative Sentences|
|Sentence frame with vocabulary underlined||Oranges are sweet.Lemons are sour.||Oranges and lemons are both fruit, but oranges are sweet, and lemons are sour.||The main difference between oranges and lemons is oranges are sweet, while lemons are sour.|
|Sentence frame with vocabulary removed||___ are ___.||___ and ___ are both ___, but ___ are ___, and ___ are ___.||___ and ___ is ___ are ___, while ___ are ___.|
|Example taken from: Donnelly, W.B. & Roe, C.J. (2010). Using sentence frames to develop academic vocabulary for English learners. The Reading Teacher, 64(2), pp. 134|
The best way for students to learn about sentence walls is through modeling and plenty of examples for when and how to use sentence frames/ walls. Modeling helps the student learn proper pronunciation and intonation. (Carrier, 2006)
- Listen to teacher say sentence.
- Student says sentence with teacher.
- Student says sentence to teacher.
- Student says sentence to a peer.
The main purpose is oral practice, but should equally be used for written practice. (Donnelly, 2010)
This a great opportunity for classroom teachers to share sentence walls with their English Language Education teachers. This can further enhance the child’s language development.
Connections to Multiple Intelligence
By using sentence frames/ walls students are learning to use language. They are able to express their ideas about the concepts being taught. As an end result, it is hoped that the child can remember and in turn show what they have learned.
This may be a stretch, but hear me out.
Language has certain structures and patterns. As Donnelly’s article shows, you need to think about and target the language function (compare/contrast, problem/solution, etc.). Each of these has a certain pattern and structure to follow. Once a child knows the pattern of a compare/contrast statement, they will be able to independently develop their own statement down the road.
Connections to Universal Design for Learning
Provide Multiple Means of Representation
1. Provide options for perception
• Options that customize the display of information
• Options that provide alternatives for visual information
2. Provide options for language and symbols
• Options that clarify syntax and structure
3. Provide options for comprehension
• Options that highlight critical features, big ideas, and relationships
Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression
4. Provide options for expressive skills and fluency
• Options in the scaffolds for practice and performance
5. Provide options for executive functions
• Options that support planning and strategy development
• Options that facilitate managing information and resources
• Options that enhance capacity for monitoring progress
Provide Multiple Means of Engagement
8. Provide options for sustaining effort and persistence
• Options that foster collaboration and communication
Let’s Put It All Together
This clearly shows how sentence frames/ walls are linked to the UDL principles. Sentence frames display information in a visual format, showing students the proper language structure, which can show relationships in language, such as a problem and solution statement. Teachers will scaffold instruction to the point where students will become less dependent on this tool. Sentence frames help students plan and manage their ideas and how to express those ideas. It is also a handy assessment tool for teachers to monitor student progress in written and oral language. It also allows opportunities for the student, classroom teacher and the English Language Educator to work together.
Carrier, K.A. & Tatum, A.W. (2006). Creating sentence walls to help English-language learners develop content literacy. The Reading Teacher, 60(3), pp. 285-288.
Donnelly, W.B. & Roe, C.J. (2010). Using sentence frames to develop academic vocabulary for English learners. The Reading Teacher, 64(2), pp. 131-136.
Here is a great story frame to use with your students to learn about story elements.
Here is a Cinderella story frame.
Look sentence frames can be used in math!