Tuesday, March 29, 2016

What is CGI?

Well, funny you should ask!  This is the first of many posts that will introduce you to how I do CGI in my first grade classroom. My understanding of CGI is still evolving mind you, as I learn something new each time I teach a lesson, visit with a fellow teacher, or attend a workshop.  And you will never believe, this understanding has grown from a great deal of skepticism that lodged itself in my math teaching philosophy not too many years ago.  
 I started CGI style math instruction about 5 years ago with my coteacher in our first grade inclusion classroom.  Since that time, I have had 3 years of professional development here in Arkansas on CGI.  A great deal of our training came from the book, Children's Mathematics, Cognitively Guided Instruction  by Thomas P. Carpenter, Elizabeth Fennema, Megan Loef Franke, Linda Levi, and Susan B. Empson. 

click to find this book on amazon

This is a great resource, I refer to it often when planning for instruction as well as evaluating student problem solving.  
Over the past 5 years, I have learned so much about CGI and about the way our students naturally think about math and numbers.  CGI is a way of teaching math that attempts to use a student's natural mathematics understanding to develop different math skills such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  CGI helps students develop a strong number sense through exploration and problem solving before teaching standard algorithms.   
Here's an example of how CGI might be used in older grades to teach a student to add two 2-digit numbers, you wouldn't teach them to write the problem vertically, add the ones and then the tens, and carry accordingly.  Instead, you would present a word problem, such as Katie had 56 goldfish and Sarah had 28 goldfish.  How many goldfish do they have all together.  The teacher would then help students understand the problem, but not solve.  Students would use any strategy that made sense to them to put the two number together, such as drawing a picture, using manipulatives, a number line, incrementing or any other strategy.  As students work through these strategies, their understanding of place value and addition will grow.  Later, they will grow into using more complex strategies such as the standard algorithm and more.  
CGI style problem solving can be used to facilitate mastery of many objectives and is ideal for kindergarten through third grades.   Can you imagine a kindergartner multiplying or dividing?  Stick with me!  I can't wait to tell you more.  
This style of teaching is very student lead.  There is very little teacher instruction, at least at the first part of class.  As I mentioned before, I was very skeptical when I first began teaching CGI style math lessons.  I thought that the problem solving approach was great for just that- problem solving, but more direct instruction was the only way for students to learn things like doubles and ten partners, fractions, place value, equal sign concepts and much more.  I have been amazed time and time again at students of all levels who were able to reach a greater understanding of numbers and math concepts in all domains over the past few years.  I probably don't have to tell you, I have been converted from a skeptic to a beliver!  
CGI is not really new math, it has been out much longer than common core state standards, but it is new to many teachers.  I know I had never heard of it before 5 years ago.  CGI also lends itself so incredibly to CCSS objectives.  I have taught almost every first grade math objective by incorporating CGI style lessons into my math units.   
Are you wondering if CGI is for you and your students?  I bet it might be!  There is so much I can't wait to tell you about.  We will talk about problem types, planning, student strategies, and many more things in the posts to come.  The next post I do will be about setting up your classroom for CGI instruction.  We will cover what I have found the most efficient way to store materials, work problems, display problems and more!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

NOOO!  It’s come to an end!  This is the last blog post for a while of the Featured Teacher Tuesdays!
Heidi Neels from Flipping for First is a spunky and organized first grade teacher!  
Years of tumbling, cheerleading and a passion for teaching made her blog name come to life!  She has been teaching for 9 years, 6 of those being in first grade!  She has truly found her teaching niche!
Heidi has been married for 15 years (yep, he’s tied up in the basement) and has two beautiful girls ages 15 (don’t do the math) and 10!  Faith brings joy in her life each and every day!  God has blessed her family and teaching career!  She is a middle child (typical middle child syndrome) and requires lots of attention from those around her!
Organization fuels Heidi through first grade!  (It may be a disease!)  Check out her blog for some amazing tips on how to organize Words Their Way, Listening Stations, Behavior Management, Erin Condren Planner, Common Core Assessments, Classroom tips and so much more!

Laughing is important to Heidi!  Mo Willems, first grade quotes, and National Lampoon movies can put a smile on her face.  Just like Wimberly, Heidi can worry a lot!  Therefore Heidi clings to
Psalm 46:10  “Be still, and know I am God!

Heidi’s best seller is her Editable Daily Behavior Chart!  This is an amazing product that every teacher who has a student with challenging behavior needs!!  Heidi loves to hear success stories about teachers using this in their classrooms!!
Fry’s First 100 Sight Words came about when she had 30% of her students struggling with sight words!  Yikes!  To overcome this obstacle, Heidi created a product that focuses on teaching the words in context using pictures, repetition, and motor skills!  She ended that year with 100% of her students knowing all first grade sight words!  Love it!
Heidi’s First Grade Common Core Math Assessments are a full year’s worth of assessments!  She even has a blog post with a yearly calendar to help you plan!
Assessment Bundle Cover IMAGE.gif
Check out one of Heidi’s freebies!
Don’t forget to join me in following Heidi!