Tool for the Field: Using a Frayer Model for Learning Math Concepts


The purpose of this tool for the field is to support educators’ use of a Frayer Model to help students understand important math concepts.


  1. Read the material below in the section called, “Using a Frayer Model.”
  2. Look carefully over the Frayer Model example, which defines and explains the concept, “rectangle.”
  3. If you are currently working with students, identify one or two students whom you ask to make a Frayer Model for a math concept they recently learned. You may want to provide the students with some items to classify as either examples or non-examples. If you are not currently working with students, create your own Frayer Model for the concept “improper fraction.”
  4. Think about the following issues:
    1. How did the model help you (or the students) learn about the concept?
    2. Which of the four boxes was the most difficult to fill out? Why?
    3. Were there any difficulties with the use of the model? If so, what were they?
    4. In what situations would it make sense to suggest that a student create a Frayer Model?

Using a Frayer Model

The Frayer Model was created by Dorothy Frayer at the University of Wisconsin. It is useful for helping students understand concepts in any subject. With the Frayer Model, the student or educator writes the name of a new concept in the center oval of a printed template. The student then fills out the other four sections of the template. These sections ask for information about the concept (its definition, facts or properties, examples, and non-examples). A paraprofessional or teacher can review a student’s template and identify any areas of misunderstanding. Often, in math, the most helpful section of the Frayer Model is the non-example section.

An illustration of a completed Frayer-Model template for the concept “rectangle” is shown below in Figure 1. Notice that any shape that meets every part of the definition would be considered a rectangle. However, the facts or properties may be true for other shapes in addition to rectangles. To make the best use of a Frayer Model, try to classify several borderline items. Borderline items might meet the definition but in an unconventional way, such as the square being a type of rectangle. Borderline items might also be ones that meet part, but not all of the definition, such as a parallelogram not being a rectangle. A parallelogram is a polygon and it does have four sides, but it does not have four right angles.
Figure 1. Frayer Model for "rectangle."