Using precise language, explaining and answering in full sentences and using stem sentences all provide a framework to express key conceptual ideas or generalise and help all learners to embed conceptual knowledge and build understanding.
Using precise mathematical language
If children can use the correct terminology, as they do in Literacy, then it supports understanding and reasoning as they can explain what they are referring to in one word rather than having to talk around it. For example, referring to the "divisor" is actually easier than the "number you are dividing by".
Using complete sentences
It’s important for pupils in maths lessons to give answers to questions using full sentences--not just one-word answers. This helps them to think more deeply and for others to be able to understand more easily so all children will benefit. It also supports reasoning and their ability to generalise (or find a rule that always works).
Using sentence stems
"I say, you say, you say, you say, we say."
Sentence stems provided by the teacher can support children to communicate key conceptual ideas or generalisations clearly. After modelling the sentence, the teacher then asks individual children to repeat this, before asking the whole class to chorus chant the sentence. This can support children to embed key concepts when linked to experiences.
This can involve children filling in the missing parts of a sentence; varying the parts but keeping the stem the same.
Alternatively it can be used where a generalisation (rule) is found. For example: When adding ten to a number, the ones digit stays the same. The stem can be given to complete or the full sentence or when experienced, the children might generate their own.
Planning for Langauge
When creating an "S-plan" of small steps for each topic, considering precise mathematical vocabulary and potential stem sentences will really help. On the NCETM website, the new PD materials (sometimes called the spine) include key concepts and example stem sentences.