Defining Connections
 The Connections Standard | The Interconnectedness of Mathematics | Applying Mathematics to Other Subjects | Asking Questions | Relating Connections to the Other Process Standards | Your Journal
"Mathematics is not a collection of separate strands or standards, even though it is often partitioned and presented in this manner. Rather, mathematics is an integrated field of study."

## (NCTM, 2000, p. 64)

For many years, mathematics was thought of and taught as a series of isolated topics. Students in the elementary and middle grades learned number concepts and skills, geometry concepts, and measurement skills. Even with the limited number of concepts, there was little discussion of their interrelatedness. 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 between these strands enables us to introduce concepts much earlier. Through building new knowledge of relationships and making connections between mathematical concepts, students develop a greater understanding.

In the middle-grades classroom, we should provide opportunities for students to experience mathematics as an integrated set of topics that relate to one another. The role of the teacher is to select problems and tasks that connect mathematical ideas within topics and across the curriculum. These tasks will help students build on previously studied mathematical ideas and to develop new ideas. However, this cannot be accomplished if we focus instruction on abstract manipulation of symbols before students understand the underlying concepts. In order to do this effectively, it is important for the teacher to recognize and understand the mathematics being developed so that the connections can be identified and become an integral part of instruction.

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

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