Engaging Young Learners in Integration through Mathematical Modeling: Asking Big Questions, Finding Answers, and Doing Big Thinking

Learning Across the Early Childhood Curriculum

ISBN: 978-1-78190-700-9

ISSN: 0270-4021

Publication date: 28 June 2013


The conceptual framework of mathematical modeling (e.g., Lesh & Doerr, 2003) is a vital area in mathematics education research, and its implementation has potential for deeply involving children in integrated and meaningful learning. In mathematical modeling learners are active agents in content-integrated, real-world problem solving. This emphasis on integrating multiple content areas to answer big questions, the pursuit of mathematical modeling, descends from Dewey’s work. We present the definition, principles, and design of modeling practices for readers who may be familiar with early childhood curriculum but less so with using modeling for learning. We explore the application of mathematical modeling to early childhood classrooms and its compatibility with early childhood pedagogies and philosophies. Young children may often be underestimated, assumed to be unable to pose big questions that can be answered through activity, experience, and data; but we discuss how young children can be engaged in problems through mathematical modeling. Finally, as preservice teacher educators, we discuss preparing preservice and in-service teachers for modeling in their classrooms. We offer examples and guidance for early childhood teachers to engage in authentic practice – meeting children where their interests are and creating integrated problem-solving experiences.



Flevares, L. and Schiff, J. (2013), "Engaging Young Learners in Integration through Mathematical Modeling: Asking Big Questions, Finding Answers, and Doing Big Thinking", Learning Across the Early Childhood Curriculum (Advances in Early Education and Day Care, Vol. 17), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 33-56. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0270-4021(2013)0000017006

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