What do you think of when you hear the term Making Connections?  For me, it always makes me think of reading and the process of making text connections to self, other texts, and the world.  After reading this chapter from Building Mathematical Comprehension, I am falling deeper in love with the concept of bringing reading strategies in to mathematics instruction.

In my classroom, I feel that I incorporate these principles but I could be putting more emphasis and modeling the skills that I current make small mentions of currently.  The first connection mentioned by Sammons is the “Math-to-Self Connection.”  She says, “When students identify mathematics in contexts that are meaningful for them, they more easily develop an understanding of these concepts.”  (Sammons, 92)  And, DUH!!!  We already know that.  We probably do our best to demonstrate this and remind students of examples when possible.  What I personally feel that I lack is the most critical piece of this process.  I don’t often do think-alouds with my students.  I’ll be honest, I think I brush it off because it should be “easy” for the students to do.  It could also be because I teach fifth and I just assume that they are with me and making these connections without being explicitly taught to do so.

The next connection is a Math-to-Math Connection.  These connections are a little more difficult for students to make independently.  However, with support, these connections can be achieved.  Sammons says that mathematicians should be exploring “similarities and differences between existing mathematical knowledge and new concepts, thereby enhancing their ability to solve problems and to construct new mathematical understanding.”  (Sammon, 93)  Remember above, I said that I feel that I do many of these things but could really stand to improve and expand upon them.  Here is exhibit A:

Each day, my students write in a Math Journal about our daily skill.  Often times, their prompts ask them to give similarities or differences between various skills.  What I should do better, is taking the time to discuss these connections that they are making.  By having a discussion about these types of connections, I believe that it will help other students improve their ability and connections while also strengthening the connections of the students who share.

And last but not least, we have Math-to-World Connections.  Once again, I feel that I really do this.  But as with anything, there is always room for improvement.  Currently, we do Math Warm Ups each morning.  My kids really seem to enjoy them, as do I.  Our Warm Ups consist of many different tasks but one of our reoccurring questions, is “How did your family use math over ______ break?”  This is typically something we do after fall, winter, or spring break.  Sometimes, I throw these out on Monday mornings and ask about the weekend.

One aspect that I don’t currently do but will most definitely be adding is the addition of Current Events! As adults, we know that math is all around us.  We hear statistics, news reports, and read articles about topics of interest.  How often do you share these types of things with your kids?  How often do you invite them to share these things with their classmates?  This is the perfect way to bring in the student-led aspect that I am striving for while incorporating authentic, real life, math-to-world connections in my instruction!

This chapter inspired me in so many ways.  I’m looking for a way to encourage my kids to make these connections and be constantly on the lookout for math in real life and current events.  To do this, I created a few Brag Tags to share with you!  By clicking the image below, you’ll be able to grab four brag tags in both color and black and white versions.  If you like the idea of Brag Tags, be sure to check out Angie from Lucky Little Learners.  She has a HUGE line of products with Brag Tags for things you’ve never even thought to recognize!