Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) was developed by Thomas Carpenter and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin in the 1990s. It is based on a series of longitudinal research projects that looked at how children solve problems before receiving formal instruction in the subject matter. This work developed into a approach to teaching mathematics that focuses on building on children’s intuitions about problems and number. At the core of CGI is the practice of listening to children’s mathematical thinking and using it as a basis for instruction. Children are encouraged to choose their own strategies for solving individualized questions and with that experience, they will reflect and develop different strategies resulting in higher levels of algebraic thinking.
Although CGI is not a set curriculum, the approach deeply informs our teaching at CWC Mar Vista. In Math Workshop, teachers create and pose different types of story problems to students. Problems are differentiated to meet the needs of all learners in the classroom, and children are encouraged to use a variety of tools to explain their thinking to their peers. Children have opportunities to work in whole group, partnerships as well as independently to solve a variety of problem types, utilizing many different solution strategies.
CGI supports children’s mathematical thinking skills by allowing students time and opportunities to draw upon their own math knowledge, while learning new ways to approach problems by working collaboratively with their peers.