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Building Meaningful Student Connections


The purpose of Building Meaningful Student Connections is to assist students to make meaningful connections between what they already know and what they are to learn in the present instructional lesson or instructional activity.

What is it?

  • implemented at the beginning of an instructional lesson or activity.
  • includes three instructional elements ("LIP") that activate student prior knowledge.
  • teacher links ("L") the math concept/skill to be learned to prior knowledge students already have.
  • teacher explicitly identifies ("I") the learning objective (i.e. what students will be learning).
  • teacher provides ("P") meaning to, or a rationale for learning the concept/skill.
  • implementing "LIP" helps "set the stage" for/prepares students for learning the target math concept skill.

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What are the critical elements of this strategy?

  • Occurs at the beginning of the instructional lesson.
  • L ink the concept to be taught to prior knowledge and experiences of your students.
  • I dentify what it is your students will learn.
  • P rovide meaning/rationale for learning the skill - why is it important to your students?

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How do I implement the strategy?

  1. Choose appropriate math concept/skill for instruction.
  2. Explicitly identify the math concept/skill the students will learn. Provide a visual cue for this (e.g. write the math concept/skill on the chalkboard or on a poster).
  3. Ask your students to repeat the learning objective.
  4. Decide what prior knowledge and experiences your students have that relate to the target math concept/skill.
  5. Prepare an engaging way to explicitly relate your students' prior knowledge to the specific math concept/skill you are going to teach.
  6. Think beforehand how the particular math skill you teach has meaning for your students given their age, interests, cultural backgrounds, etc. Provide them a rationale for why the math concept/skill has meaning for them.
  7. Explicitly relate this meaning/rationale to your students in an engaging way.

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How Does This Instructional Strategy Positively Impact Students Who Have Learning Problems?

  • Provides explicit support to students for building meaningful math concept connections. Passive learning characteristics make this difficult for students to do independently.
  • Cues students to understand both the purpose of the instructional lesson and the math concept/skill they will learn.
  • Learning characteristics such as attention problems, memory deficits, and metacognitive difficulties make this a difficult task for students.

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Additional Information

Research Support For The Instructional Features Of This Instructional Strategy: Baroody (1987); Gagnon & Maccini (2001); Hall (2002); Kennedy and Tipps (1994); Lenz, Alley, & Schumaker (1987); Mercer, Jordan, & Miller (1996); Mercer, Lane, Jordan, Allsopp, & Eisele (1996); Mercer & Mercer (2005); Van De Walle (1994); Van De Walle (2005).

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Video: each clip shows a teacher implementing an important instructional component of this instructional strategy.

Slideshow/Audio: Provides text and audio explanation of the videos including tips about what is being done that effectively addresses the needs of struggling learners.

Slideshow Script: Provides text of the audio portion of the slideshow (Word format).

Viewing Tips: Provides assistance with viewing online video.

Running times: total video 8:06; total elab 12:30; total clip 20:36

If you are having trouble viewing the videos, see Viewing Tips

Slideshow w/Audio Slideshow Script



   Clip 1

   Teacher LINKS to student prior knowledge


   Clip 2

   Teacher IDENTIFIES what students will do


   Clip 3

   Teacher PROVIDES meaning/rationale for learning


   Clip 4

   Teacher restates what students will learn


Thanks to Ms. Lynn Williams at all of the Kindergarten students at Ft. Lewis Elementary, Roanoake Co. Schools!



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