National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1997). To be effective, intentional teaching requires that teachers use formative assessment to determine where children are in relation to the learning goal and to provide the right kind and amount of support for them to continue to make progress. Intentional teaching is useful to get beyond the dichotomies that arise when teaching is characterized as either teacher-directed or child-initiated.
Early childhood curriculum is often integrated across content domains or subject matter disciplines. Integration is the blending together of two or more content areas in one activity or learning experience (Schickedanz, 2008). The purpose of an integrated curriculum is to make content meaningful and accessible to young children. Integration also enables more content to be covered during the limited school day.
Integration typically occurs in two ways. One approach is to add a mathematics content goal to a storybook reading. In this situation, language and literacy goals related to storybook reading are primary, and mathematics learning is secondary. Another way of integrating curriculum is to use a broad topic of study, a theme (such as animals or plants), or a project of interest to children through which mathematics content goals are addressed. Projects are extended investigations into a topic that intellectually engages and interests children, such as how to create a garden or build a house (Katz and Chard, 1989). In both of these approaches to integration, mathematics learning is a secondary objective, rather than the primary focus of attention. In this report, we use both integrated learning experience and secondary focus on mathematics (which some studies have referred to as embedded mathematics) to reflect the teaching/exposure to mathematics content as an ancillary activity.
By contrast, focused curriculum or primary focus on mathematics refers to experiences in which mathematics is the major learning goal. A focused mathematics curriculum should also be meaningful and connect to children’s interests and prior knowledge. In this report, we use the terms, “primary focus on mathematics” and “focused mathematics time” to refer to dedicated time for a learning experience with mathematics as the primary goal.
State standards for students’ learning have had an increasingly important role in education over at least the past decade, particularly in K-12 education. More recently, standards have begun to play a role in early