Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) is a teacher professional learning program that supports teachers to understand research knowledge of children’s mathematical thinking and how to use students’ mathematical thinking to guide instruction. CGI is a student-centered approach to teaching math with understanding. Teachers start with what their students already know and building on their understanding of mathematical ideas and their intuitive approaches to problem solving. CGI is not a curriculum or a teaching program but rather a way of listening to students, asking smart questions, and engaging with their thinking. CGI teachers are constantly working to uncover and expand every students’ mathematical understanding.
A Brief History of Cognitively Guided Instruction
By Tom Carpenter
Having found all to know about gender worth knowing,
Eliz might have sat by the lake and watched the grass growing.
But instead she thought that for a while
she’d help her colleague do something worthwhile.
He’d spent his life studying kids one on one.
And while she was sure that was oodles of fun,
in education what is important is classes,
where teachers teach children not alone but in masses.
Well we knew how children did add and subtract.
Could something of value be made of that fact?
What could we tell teachers to do with this stuff
that they would not just perceive as more fluff.
We racked our poor brains to come up with a plan
that teachers could implement to the last woman and man.
If we could just tell them just how to do it,
If we had tried that, we just would have blew it.
Having no success in planning instruction,
we thought why not make it the teachers’ construction.
Rather than attempting to preach
to them about how they should teach,
We decided to talk about kids’ math cognition,
and see how it fit with teachers’ intuition
about how to teach, after all they are pros.
And we know nothing of teaching, as everyone knows.
That’s what we did, and low and behold,
teachers knew what to do without being told.
Thinking back on it, why did we make such a fuss?
We should have known all along they were smarter than us.
They taught with intelligence, creativity, and grace.
And in so doing helped us to save face.
Now it was possible that we could pretend
that this was always what we did intend.
That my friends is the inside story
of CGI in all its glory.