Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Part C

Defining Connections
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"The most important connection for early mathematics development is between the intuitive, informal mathematics that students have learned through their own experiences and the mathematics they are learning in school. All other connections -- between one mathematical concept and another, between different mathematics topics, between mathematics and other fields of knowledge, and between mathematics and everyday life -- are supported by the link between the students' informal experiences and more-formal mathematics."

(NCTM, 2000, page 132)


For many years, mathematics was thought of and taught as a series of isolated topics. Students in elementary and middle grades learned number concepts and skills, geometry concepts, and measurement skills. There was little discussion of the relationship among these topics, and little, if any, discussion of connections to the world outside the classroom, other than the contrived word problems usually found at the bottom of the textbook page! In high school, formal algebra, geometry, and statistics courses made up the mathematics curriculum -- usually as separate courses. In today's mathematics classroom, helping students see the connections among the content standards and how mathematics connects to their informal experiences enables us to introduce some mathematical ideas much earlier, and helps students develop a greater understanding of those ideas.

In this section, we will take a look at some aspects of connections that we can use in the early grades to help students gain a better understanding of mathematics.

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