25 Sentence Stems To Promote Math Talk

Do you feel like you are pulling teeth trying to get students to answer a question during lessons? When teaching, I often felt like I was talking to an imaginary classroom with imaginary students. I would ask a question and wait for a response to what seemed like forever (more like 10-15 seconds). Finally, one brave student would attempt to answer the question but stumble with forming their response, and we are back to the awkward silence. There are several reasons why students may experience challenges with expressing their ideas verbally in math class. 

We are going to assume that students have something to say but don't know how to say it. Have you ever had a thought or feedback advice in a meeting but stumbled with formulating it into a clear, coherent statement? I sure have. Sometimes many ideas are running through our heads, that it becomes difficult to focus on the central concepts or to link the thoughts in a conversational manner. When most people experience frustration, confusion, or overwhelm, they shut down and say or do nothing. We can help students overcome this challenge by providing sentence starters.

As mentioned, students may struggle with expressing their ideas or linking related thoughts verbally. Sentence stems/starters is an instructional technique that helps students effectively communicate by offering students the opportunity to answer questions in the form of a complete sentence. Sentence stems help students get started sharing their ideas through speaking or writing while relieving the pressure of thinking about how to form a thought. 

Sentence stems can be used when students are:

  • engaging in a math discussion with a peer.
  • practicing the use of academic language.
  • sharing their thoughts on how to solve a particular problem.
  • reflecting on a math concept recently learned.

How to use sentence stems in math class?

Step 1:

Share a list of sentence stems with students in advance. I have seen teachers post a few stems in their classrooms in a visible place. Some teachers choose to have students put sentence stems on the front or back of their notebook for easy reference. Either way, students need to know how to access this support tool when needed.

Step 2:

Model how and when to use sentence stems. Just because most middle school students have seen a fill in the blank type sentence does not mean they understand the purpose of a sentence stem. Take time to review some sentence stems and share examples of when to use each stem.  Model asking a question and using a sentence stem to respond. 

Step 3:

After modeling how to use sentence stems in math class, allow students to practice having conversations with the starter phrases.  Start with simple non-academic phrases such as "I like to ____ on the weekends because ____" to provide a low barrier to entry for participation. Transition students to using sentence stems in an academic context by finding a math problem that has multiple ways to solve it. Ask students to use the following sentence stem "One strategy I could use to solve this problem is to ____" to draft a response. 

Step 4:

It is not enough to introduce sentence stems one time and expect students to use them without prompting. Teachers must consistently encourage students to refer to their resource when necessary. 

Start by introducing a few sentence stems to your students. Save the infographic below for immediate access to twenty-five sentence stems to use in your math class.


Each month, we will share tips for building academic risk-takers inside and outside the classroom. Join our email community for additional resources. 

Next steps: Reflect on your current classroom environment. What is one way that you are using sentence stems to cultivate a community of academic risk- takers? What is one new strategy that you plan to try to increase your efforts?

9 Ways To Use Google Tools To Manage Your Math Club



 We discussed how ready to use curriculum can save time when facilitating an after-school club. Having access to turnkey lessons reduces the pressure of planning engaging activities for club members. With minimum preparation, advisors are able to organize a new program at their school site and positively impact  students.

Our goal is to share resources that will help new club advisors get started by guiding them through the basic steps of planning and establishing an after-school club. With competing priorities, club operations can quickly become overwhelming for advisors. Club advisors need to track fundraising or service learning projects, communicate with parents, keep members active, etc. Therefore, it's imperative that club advisors not only have ready to use curriculum but support tools to oversee other duties.

Managing an after-school club with free tools is possible and it doesn't take bootstrapping together various resources from different companies to make it affordable. In fact, it's feasible to coordinate and organize operational projects with free Google tools.

Here are nine ways to use Google tools to manage your club's activities.


Let’s Recap:

1. Google Voice

Club advisors: Use a designated phone number to communicate with parents about club updates and reminders about upcoming meetings.

2. Gmail

Club advisors: Use a designated club email address to easily receive and send emails to parents, volunteers, sponsors, etc. or to share newsletters.

3. Google Calendar

Club advisors: Place all club meetings, service learning projects, and fundraising projects on the calendar so that parents and club members may plan accordingly.

4. Google Sites

Club advisors: Create a website to share the club's purpose, goals, and plans for the school year.

5. Google Forms

Club advisors: Create a club enrollment form or measure club effectiveness through student surveys.

6. Google Docs

Club members: Record meeting notes or collaborate on fundraising plans or service projects.

7. Google Drive

Club advisors: Easily organize club documents in folders, access them from any device, and share them instantly.

8. Google Hangouts

Club advisors: Invite guests to speak with club members virtually.

9. Google Classroom

Club advisors: Host all club documents, member discussions, planning checklists, math activities by using a blended learning format to manage your club.

Grab our free club planning guide. It's filled with action-packed instructions and tips to save you time with planning and launching a math club for girls at your school or community site.


20 Ways To Fund A Math Club



We shared nine essential steps to fundraising success. Hosting a fundraiser is no easy task, and it takes planning to organize a successful event. Another factor in fundraising success is the quality of the fundraiser. Often club advisors find it difficult to determine which type of fundraiser is the best depending on their school dynamics. After confirming a monetary goal, it’s time to decide on the fundraising event.

Some fundraisers are easier to manage than others. Be mindful of the human capital and resources available before deciding on a particular idea because some fundraisers may require the purchase of materials. There are fundraising companies that allow club members to sell merchandise such as magazines, candy, or candles in exchange for a percentage of sales. The amount club members can earn will depend on the amount of merchandise sales and the commission rate.

It’s possible to raise funds without using an official fundraising organization. Over the years, club advisors and parent teacher associations have created innovative ways to raise money. We provided a list of fundraising ideas that other clubs have used to raise funds. Share the ideas with your club members and allow them to vote on their favorite fundraiser to execute.

1. Use Your Own Technology Day: Students pay $1 to use their phone in class to engage in lessons. Teachers provide lessons that involve using an educational app aligned to the content area which could encourage students to use education apps outside of school.

2. No Uniform Day: If your school requires students to wear uniforms, charge $1 and allow students to ditch the uniform for a day.

3. Theme Day: Students pay $1 to participate in the theme of the day (ex: college t-shirt day, hat day, pajama day, twin day, etc.) To build student interest, allow students to vote on the theme of the day and have club members promote the fundraiser.

4. Sports Tournament: Organize a sports tournament that aligns with most students’ interest at your school (ex: basketball, soccer, baseball, etc.). Students can pay $1 to watch the tournament. Club members can volunteer to set up a small concession stand and sell snacks and refreshments. Get a group of volunteers to join club members in cleaning up the gym or outdoor facility after the event.

5. Theme School Dance: Organize a school dance based on a particular theme (ex: Valentine’s Day). Charge $5 per ticket for entry. Hire a DJ or create a playlist of students’ favorite songs to save money. Make sure the music language and content is appropriate for school. You will need a lot of adult volunteers to monitor students during the dance. Provide punch, chips or any other quick snacks to attendees. Club members can help with selling tickets, setting up the dance, and working at the snack tables.

6. Candy Jar Challenge: Place candy in a jar and allow students to pay $0.50 to estimate the amount of candy in the jar. The student closest to the actual number wins the jar full of candy. Use candy associated with the upcoming holiday to make it fun. For example, in February,  fill the jar with heart shaped candy or in December, fill the jar with small candy canes. To keep students’ interest, place a two-week time limit on the fundraiser. Have club members promote the challenge and announce the winner.

7. Grade Level Penny War : Set up a 5-gallon water jug for each grade level. Each grade level competes to see who can fill up their jug first by placing coins in their jug. Offer an incentive to the winner (ex: free game time, outside time, or whatever will motivate your students that don't cost money). Have club members promote the penny war and announce the winner.

8. Holiday Grams: Allow students to send a candy gram to another student. Candy grams are great near holidays such as Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Halloween. Create pre-made candy gram notes to ensure that students send an appropriate communication. Charge $1 for each candy gram. Have club members promote the fundraiser and deliver the candy grams to students.

9. Birthday Shout Outs: Choose the first week of the month to set up an area in the cafeteria where students can purchase birthday shout outs for friends with birthdays that month. Create pre-made birthday “cards”  to ensure that students send appropriate communication and add a lollipop. Choose one day each month to have club members deliver all birthday shout outs. 

10. Movie Party: Choose a school and age-appropriate movie and allow students to pay a $2 entry fee to attend the party. To generate interest, ask students to vote on the movie and the popcorn flavor. Have club members sell the tickets and help prepare the popcorn.

11. Car Wash: Club members can pre-sale tickets to ensure that the fundraiser is a success. Club members can volunteer to wash cars after school or during the weekend with adult supervision. Hosting a car wash is a good way to publicize your math club, earn money for your club activities and contribute to your community.

12.  Breakfast Drive Thru: Sell glazed donuts and coffee to parents in the drop-off line in the morning. Charge $2 for a cup of coffee and one glazed donut. Have club members operate the stand before school, promote the fundraiser to parents in the drop-off line, and deliver the food to parents as they sit in the car.

13. Field Day Competition: Celebrate the last few weeks of school with a field day event. Charge a $1 entry fee that covers participation in all events. Club members can also set up a concession stand to sell drinks, ice cream, and snacks.

14. Bake Sale: Have parents or a local bakery donate pastries. Sell the pastries at back to school night, curriculum night, school sporting events, etc. Charge based on the pastry. Club members can set up and operate the bake stand. Be sure to check your school district food regulations to ensure compliance.

15. Water Balloon War-Students form teams and battle in a water balloon fight. Charge $1 entry fee for students to participate. Be sure to have volunteers to help clean up after the balloon war. Water Balloon War is a good fundraiser to host when the weather is hot. Club members can fill the balloons and clean up after the event.

16. (insert school name) Student Idol - Host a singing contest. Students pay $1 to support their favorite candidate or candidates can collect a donation from family and friends. Each dollar counts as a vote. The candidate with the most votes (money raised) is named the (insert school name) Student Idol. Club members can help with promoting the contest, tallying the votes, and crowning the winner.

17.  Pass The Jar:  Pass around a jar at a sporting event and ask people to donate to your club. This type of fundraising works best at sporting events where adults are mostly seated (ex: basketball or football games). At half time, have club members make a short (3 minutes) speech sharing the purpose of their math club and why they need funding. Club members can also decorate the jars with fun math quotes.

18. Get Sponsored: Write sponsorship letters to local businesses asking them to sponsor your club. Be sure to state how the funds or resources will be used. Provide the sponsor with a group picture and a certificate of appreciation.

19. Host a yard sale. Choose a Saturday to invite parents, teachers, and community members to sell their used clothes and household goods in the school parking lot. Rent each parking space for $20. Club members can help sell spaces to family members, create the signage to advertise the sale and volunteer at the event.

20. Host a school spirit night. Partner with a local fast food restaurant or youth friendly entertainment location (ex: skating rink) to host a fundraiser. Invite students from your school, advertise the fundraiser, and collect a   percentage of the revenue from the business.

Grab our free club planning guide. It's filled with action-packed instructions and tips to save you time with planning and launching a math club for girls at your school or community site.