The West Cook Math Initiative has provided training in pedagogy and practical lessons to District 91 for the last few years. One of the main focuses of this training has been Cognitively Guided Instruction. The idea is that children learn best by problem solving, rather than memorizing facts or algorithms. Our teachers have learned to use “CGI” problems to help students solve problem types that traditionally wouldn’t be taught until they were much older. For example, division is not traditionally taught until third grade, but given the tools they need, without an algorithm to learn, kindergarteners can and do solve division problems.
Mrs. Sharon Bork was among the first Betsy Ross teachers trained in CGI. She has been a leader in the school, modeling lessons for teachers who are new to the process, and even assisting the WCMI trainers at summer workshops for teachers throughout the region. Her second graders love CGI days, when they are able to choose the tools that work for them, experiment with possible solutions, and share their problem solving process with their peers, becoming “teachers” themselves. Mrs. Bork uses her years of experience in second grade to get her students excited about problem solving, which can be a daunting task, and brings out the best in each of her students. As a result, they will leave second grade with a strong foundation in key mathematical concepts that they can build on for years to come.