Cognitively Guided Instruction


Building on a solid tradition of student-centered problem solving strategies, Gardner Street School began incorporating the Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) approach to teaching math in the 2018-19 school year. Participating teachers received professional development through the LAUSD/UCLA Mathematics Project partnership and continue to receive in cass support throughout the school year.


With the CGI approach, students are at the heart of instruction. Teachers pose rich math tasks that are relevant to their students. Teachers pose questions to tap into their students’ thinking to understand how students are solving problems. Students solve problems independently, with partners, and in small groups. They are tasked with sharing their ideas with each other and their teacher.


In CGI classrooms, children engage in number sense routines and problem solving. They develop strategies for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division in a developmentally appropriate lesson sequence, aligned to the California Common Core Standards for Math. Children also participate in warmups that facilitate number sense, flexibility in thinking, mathematical reasoning, and algebraic thinking.


For more information on this teaching approach, please visit the LAUSD Mathematics branch website:



How you can support your child at home


  • Listen to your child and ask questions

    • Why do you think that?

    • Can you explain how you got that?

    • How do you know?

    • Does your answer make sense?

    • Can you solve it a different way?

  • Support school learning

    • Do your best to not tell your child a strategy for how to solve a problem.

    • When your child gets stuck, help them understand the problem by focusing on the story and asking questions.

      • What does this number mean?

      • What is the question?

      • Can you tell me the story in your own words

      • Why?

  • Count! - Encourage your child to count objects, groups of objects. Younger children can count smaller quantities of 20 LEGO blocks, while older children can count the number of dried beans in a bag. On car rides, children can count the number of street sign or lights on a street light. After counting, ask your child if there is another way to count their collection, or ask them how many they would have if they had twice, half, or 10 times as many.

  • Play games - Card games such as Making 10, Uno, and Multiply Compare help to build students confidence with number sense and fact fluency, while classic games such as Mastermind, Guess Who?, and Battleship help children develop reasoning skills.

  • Have your child create their own problems or help them create their own - Did you notice the intricate blue tiles on the wall at Blackwood? How many tiles would they need to purchase if they were going to replace the turquoise tiles with yellow tiles that were the same size? What if the tiles were half as large?

  • Talk about mistakes - Mistakes are a great way to grow. If your child makes a mistake, have them explain their reasoning and try to go back and see where they made their error. 


U.S. Department of Education website with resources for parents with children in PK-5, Helping Your Child Learn Mathematics: