Educational Services: Instructional Coaches

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Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI)- Math

CGI is a way to teach math that leverages the thought process behind problems solving instead of focusing on the answer. Rather than being a curriculum, it is a technique that teachers can embed into the curriculum. This researched-based professional development program asks teachers to reflect on how their own knowledge and beliefs impact their instructional practices.


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When presented with problems such as these, some students will jump at the answer, yet can have difficulty with their thought process. In CGI, teachers will ask questions such as, “How did you come to that conclusion?” and “What did you use to help you get the answer?”

The first problem has one right answer. The second has multiple. The days of one right answer are over. Students (and teachers) need to have strategies to deal with more than one right answer, and have the verbal and written ability to justify their answers.

Class management techniques that a teacher can use include:

  • Wait time
  • Anchor charts recording strategies
  • Talk to your elbow partner
  • Table discussion
  • Diagrams

A powerful takeaway from CGI professional development is that there is no one right way of math instruction- teachers’ professional judgement is central to making decisions about how to use information about children’s thinking. (Wikipedia.)

CGI Math Problem Types

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These books are highly recommended by the UCLA Mathematics Project for teachers to expand pedagogical skills in mathematics instruction.

UCLA Mathematics Project

UCLA Math Project Resources


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