Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) is a professional development program based on an integrated program of research focused on (a) the development of students’ mathematical thinking; (b) instruction that influences that development; (c) teachers’ knowledge and beliefs that influence their instructional practices; and (d) the way that teachers’ knowledge, beliefs, and practices are influenced by their understanding of students’ mathematical thinking. Using CGI strategies is an effective way of implementing the Iowa Core Curriculum for Mathematics at the elementary level.

Studies have consistently demonstrated that Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) students show significant gains in problem solving. These gains reflect the emphasis on problem solving in CGI classes. Learning to understand the development of children’s mathematical thinking can lead to fundamental changes in teachers’ beliefs and practices. These changes were reflected in students’ learning.

The goals of CGI are:

  1. Analyze story problems and number sentences to determine their mathematical demands and recognize student responses in terms of cognitive development.
  2. Assess students’ thinking and design problems that will develop students’ understanding of concepts and skills.
  3. Facilitate discussions that provide a window into children’s thinking, strengthen children’s ability to reason about arithmetic, and build their capacity for algebraic reasoning.
  4. Use open and true/false number sentences to develop students’ understanding of mathematical concepts and skills.

In CGI professional development, elementary school teachers learn a framework for how children learn the concepts of number and operations and algebra. Teachers work to integrate this framework with their mathematical instruction. CGI is not a curriculum. The knowledge teacher gain in a CGI workshop enhances how they implement any curriculum. CGI teachers understand how their students think about mathematics and how children in general understand mathematics. CGI teachers know how to use what their children currently understand to plan instructional activities for these students. CGI teachers also understand what children need to learn about mathematics in elementary school so they will have a firm foundation upon which they can learn more advanced mathematics.

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