When I was training to become a teacher, we learned the phrase, "Building bridges from the known to the new". I didn't realize the value of this statement until much later. It is much easier for students to make the leap to something new from something he already knows.
One day I was teaching shapes and I introduced the figure: semicircle. The next day I drew a semicircle on the board and asked if anyone could remember the name of this figure. One boy immediately raised his hand and said it was called diesel.
It took me awhile, several days, before I realized why he identified it with such a seemingly unrelated, unexpected term. His dad was a truckdriver and a semi truck and a diesel truck were very much related.
WHAT I LEARNED; Just because someone appears way off the track doesn't mean he is not thinking in an orderly fashion. Unlocking the thought process should be the goal of every teacher.