When students learn concepts and relationships in isolation, they often forget these ideas or are slow in making the connections among them.28 A thinking process called "clustering," used to group, unify, integrate, and/or make connections among concepts, is something that students and adults use routinely, often without even realizing it.29
A teacher can use this approach to cluster mathematical ideas, concepts, relationships, and objects in order to reveal common characteristics. This presentation in turn helps students to categorize and classify those ideas or objects and to remember properties and attributes, which makes the learning more meaningful.
Some students can best understand quadrilaterals when the teacher presents them as a unifying concept. In the process of clustering, a teacher guides students in studying, comparing, and classifying all quadrilaterals according to their attributes-not only the square and the rectangle, but the plain quadrilateral, the rhombus, the parallelogram, the trapezoid, and the isosceles trapezoid. This enables students to have a better sense of four-sided figures, their properties, and characteristics, so they can eventually internalize the idea and even develop a hierarchy of quadrilaterals based on properties.
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