Today, in my Numbers and Operation course, we began to discuss in more detail, Cognitively Guided Instruction (also known as CGI). It was interesting the concerns teachers had about presenting these kinds of higher level tasks to their students. Some fears included that it does not prepare students for the end of the year assessment or Student Learning Objectives. Some felt how would you be able to expose children to think with this method of teaching and learning when the support is not coming from your administration. Furthermore, some struggled with the idea of having their students do this when students appear they have not even mastered basic recall information.
For my many of the teachers in the room, this was a very new concept to them. One other person in the room and myself, because we had experience with this concept as well exposing children to high math level tasks last semester due to the other math courses we took, we learned last year ALL KIDS CAN PROBLEM SOLVE...NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF CHILD'S MIND.
It is truly a change in mindset. If you teach elementary math or math in general, are the tasks you provide to students always an approach where the teacher models, the teacher and students try it together, and the students do it as a practice independently? If so, I will challenge you to stop. Not saying you toss the baby out with the bathwater; however, we need to examine our practices.
Over the past year, I think my thought process has developed more as well as my teaching practice especially when it comes to teaching math. When teaching math, I do still teach skill; however, we must provide students opportunities to apply those skills as well as opportunities to develop their own strategies if possible. They must have opportunity to struggle and persevere through the problems. I have noticed some teachers are only teaching skills and they wonder why the kids cannot solve the problems on many end of unit tests and other assessments. Students need to able to explain themselves and how they got their solution. They need to be able to explain the process they used to get their solution. They need to able to apply various math strategies to real life situations. If you are in a Common Core state, then you should already know that the math standards are not just about a skill, but its an application of the skills as well as evaluation and critically thinking using the skill.
I understand that this is a teaching pedagogy shift. Something I cannot help, but wonder is how many children are not benefiting because their teachers do not know about problem solving (which is not just a word problem)? I cannot help, but wonder how teachers are expecting students to think more when, only a skill has been taught. I will be the first to say, you have to provide students the opportunity to think. Allow them to think it multiple ways. Guide the conversations without giving answers. Pose different scenarios to see how the students will think about a solution. Gage them in conversation. This will take time; however, it is well worth it.