Framed paragraphs are pre-writing tools that help students write well-developed paragraphs. They are skeleton formats containing information about the main ideas and transition words that guide the organization and the development of supportive details. Framed paragraphs offer a structure for students to use as they begin to write paragraphs and essays.
|When to use:||Before reading||During reading||After reading|
|How to use:||Individually||With small groups||Whole class setting|
More writing strategies
Why use framed paragraphs?
- It provides a framework for writing strong paragraphs
- The frame guides students by providing the transitional phrases for sentences
- It can incorporate various sentence types: long and short, simple and complex.
How to use framed paragraphs
- Discuss how to write a framed paragraph by using:
- A topic sentence — a general statement or opinion
- Three to five examples that develop the topic or opinion
- Transitions when needed
- A summary sentence at the end
- Provide students with a blank frame.
- Ask students fill in the missing portions of the frame to write a complete paragraph.
- Encourage students to incorporate a variety of sentences: long and short, simple and complex.
Download blank template
There are many ways to create a frame for a paragraph. This simple template helps children summarize what they learned from their reading.
Watch: Four Square Writing Method
Help students develop skills for beginning paragraph writing by providing a graphic organizer that encourages them to use facts to support their main point. See the lesson plan.
You can also watch sentence frames in action in this video from the Teaching Channel.
This example of a framed paragraph centers on Holidays and provides additional space for students to re-write the completed paragraph.
See example > (99K PDF)*
This site includes an example of using a framed paragraph for writing a description about decimals.
See example > (110K PDF)*
This example shows how teachers can use a writing frame to develop a "compare" and "contrast" essay.
See example > (28K PDF)*
English Language Learners
Support academic conversation with sentence frames.
Watch classroom video and get supporting materials > (Teaching Channel)
For Second Language Learners, students of varying reading skill, and for younger learners
- Vary the amount of information you provide in the frame. Some students may require lots of transition words for sentences, others will need very few.
- Model the frame paragraph strategy with a text that is familiar to students before asking them to complete it on their own.
- Some students may enjoy making their own frame for something they've read. Students could pair up, write their own frames, and then trade texts and frames and complete the new frame.
See the research that supports this strategy
Ellis, E. S. (1998). Framing Main Ideas and Essential Details to Promote Comprehension.
Sejnost, R., & Thiese, S. (2007). Reading and Writing Across Content Areas 2nd Ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Children's books to use with this strategy
Part of the MathStart series, this story centers around a boy's desire to ride in a 15 kilometer bicycle race. Lucid text and clear illustrations are used to explain perimeters and more. The series varies in difficulty.
A boy has five pennies and spends them one at a time as he meets people during a walk. Told in rhyme, this cumulative story is appealing and well supported by illustration.
Gold Fever!: Tales from the California Gold Rush
In the mid-19th century, the carpenter who found a nugget of gold in a river near Sutter's mill had no idea that this would begin a rush to the West. Authentic voices from journals and other original sources are seamlessly incorporated in the generously illustrated, engaging, and informative book.
Me on the Map
The United States is a big place which holds many children and their families. Maps and what they show are introduced by a girl who begins with a drawing of her room in her home. The house is then placed on a street, in a town, etc. until we see the U.S. as part of the world. This accessible book may help children understand their place on the map — and in the census.
Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman
This beautifully written book, illustrated by four-time Caldecott Honor recipient Jerry Pinkney, makes the story of Harriet Tubman's childhood accessible to very young readers. As a young slave nicknamed Minty, Harriet Tubman was a feisty and stubborn girl with a dream of escape, and a rebellious spirit that often got her into trouble. Pinkney's expressive illustrations bring every emotion to brilliant life – from troubled sorrow to spirited hope for freedom.