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Mathematization: Constructing and Connecting Mathematical Knowledge in a Prekindergarten Classroom

Thunder, Kateri
Thesis/Dissertation; Online
Thunder, Kateri
Pitt, Loren
Berry, Robert
Hansen, Jane
Ferree, Ruth
The purpose of this study was to investigate the complex context of one prekindergarten classroom, the teacher's ongoing decision-making processes to create this context, and the interactions that took place amongst students, their teacher, and objects to mathematize knowledge. Using a qualitative emergent design with purposeful sampling, the study occurred during the first five months of the 2010-2011 school year. Participants included the classroom teacher and her fifteen students identified as at risk by the prekindergarten program. During the seventeen-week study, data collection consisted of observations, document analysis of student work, and interviews of the teacher and students. To create a cohesive description of the classroom context, three weekly observations took place during math small group instruction, Writer's Workshop, and Work Time as well as morning routines, Circle Time, and transitions. Analysis of the data was ongoing using interpretative phenomenological analysis informed by analytic induction. The findings are presented in two sections. A case study of the classroom teacher describes her knowledge and beliefs and the actualization of her knowledge and beliefs to create this specific classroom context. Four main findings describe the ways mathematical knowledge was demonstrated and mathematized within this prekindergarten classroom: (1) The teacher facilitated the mathematization of knowledge by creating contexts for learning that held meaning for her students across the curriculum; (2) The teacher facilitated mathematization of knowledge by modeling and engaging her students in processes that held meaning for them across the curriculum; (3) These four-year-old children demonstrated and mathematizated their own knowledge by initiating engagement in mathematics and identifying their own mathematical goals for learning within the meaningful contexts created by their teacher; and (4) These four-year old children demonstrated and mathematizated their own knowledge through peer interaction within the meaningful contexts created by their teacher. The findings address the roles of teacher knowledge and beliefs, instructional strategies, peers, and materials for mathematizing knowledge as well as the ongoing debate about the effectiveness of integrated or focused mathematics instruction. Implications for policy, practice, and research are discussed, including the significant potential for early childhood mathematics instruction to thwart the emergence of an achievement gap.  DEDICATION To my former second-grade students Thank you for teaching me the true meaning of being a teacher by helping me find my voice. Note: Abstract extracted from PDF text
University of Virginia, Curry School of Education, PHD (Doctor of Philosophy), 2011
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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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