It is important to realize that even young students are capable of identifying the structure of things around them; for example, students can recognize patterns in a story, sequences of events from their daily lives, and identify differences among basic geometric shapes. The vocabulary for these observations may not be very advanced but the skillset still exists; therefore it should be expected that all students with the proper instruction should be able to achieve success with Practice Standard 7 as they look for and make use of structure in mathematics. Two of the articles presented with this collection address how to make the connections between familiar stories and their patterns.

These video examples and articles depict classroom experiences of students engaged in Practice Standard 7. They provide suggestions for how to guide students towards the discovery of structure so that they may use that structure to expand a pattern, read or complete a graph, classify geometric shapes, or build a sense of number, operations, and place value through structural models.

In order to identify the structure of a mathematical problem, students often need to engage in some form of visual learning or visualization. In early algebra this may mean that students are making a pattern or displaying data in a table to determine where a pattern exists. Structures are used to build place value and number sense. Students use various models in order to understand numbers and how they can be composed and decomposed. With data analysis and statistics students use the structure of the graph or other data presentation to make sense of the problem and find a solution. It is therefore essential that students learn multiple ways to represent and analyze data, numbers, and shapes in order to determine and understand the structure of any problem.