Spotlight on Mathematics

Our math program is based on Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI), which uses students’ own mathematical thinking as the basis for instruction. We’ve developed this program in collaboration with UCLA Education Professor Megan Franke, who worked with the team that originally developed CGI at the University of Wisconsin.

The premise of the CGI approach is that students bring intuitive knowledge and mathematical insight to school every day. The teacher’s role is to build from this prior knowledge so that students can eventually make connections between situational experiences and the abstract symbols that represent them in equations (symbols such as +, -, x and so forth). This approach is very different from the traditional method of teaching the symbolic computation first, and then expecting students to apply the concepts to problem solving situations. And that’s where parents sometimes have difficulty. They expect to see children using traditional methods of doing math early on. CGI focuses on what students know, not what they do not know.

Research shows that students often solve problems differently than adults, and also that the pattern of development in student strategies is robust. Students’ strategies naturally build on one another.

Using CGI methods, teachers consider how to:

  • choose and pose problems that support student learning
  • allow students to solve problems in ways that make sense to them
  • structure classrooms to allow students to share their thinking
  • probe student thinking

CGI research consistently demonstrates that teachers who know the details of their students’ mathematical thinking have higher achieving students.

Learn more

Mathematics Curriculum Map (PDF)