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CGI Math

Buena Park School District employs a student-centered approach to teaching math called Cognitively Guided Instruction, or CGI, that is turning traditional teaching methods upside down.

CGI is rooted in three decades of research showing that children bring to the classroom their own mathematical knowledge and their own way of processing the world around them. CGI lessons build on this prior knowledge. With CGI, students solve math problems in a way that makes sense to them, and then they talk about their methods and ideas with one another. This process builds meaningful connections among mathematical concepts and a stronger foundation that is based on a variety of approaches rather than one “correct” way to solve a problem. In the end, students have a clear sense of the “why” and “how” of math rather than just the “what.” Research shows that this approach works. In a three-year study, the problem-solving performance of CGI students rose substantially over that of non-CGI students, and the longer students participated in the program, the greater their gains. In addition, despite CGI’s decreased emphasis on rote learning, CGI students actually performed better on their number facts than did non-CGI students.