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Get Out of the Way Teachers, Let the Kids Do the Talking

author: Carol Fisher, Lois Bloom, Marilyn McAlister, Herminia Leon-Herrera
submitter: Royce Page, Valle Imperial Mathematics K-8 Local Systemic Change Project
description: On April 23, 2004 at the 82nd Annual Meeting of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Conference in Philadelphia, Valle Imperial Mathematics (VIM)* Resource Teachers: Carol Fisher, Lois Bloom and two VIM participating classroom teachers: Marilyn McAlister and Herminia Leon-Herrera presented a workshop based on VIM research entitled: "Get Out of the Way Teachers, Let the Kids Do the Talking." Marilyn and Herminia participated in VIM training in Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) the previous year and were both beginning to use CGI pedagogical techniques with their first grade students. Dr. Leslie Garrison, Co-Principal Investigator and head of VIM research conducted a study that found that students in the CGI classrooms performed much better on a math problem solving protocol then did their peers from non-CGI classrooms.

Using data, based on the classroom experiences and the research findings, Marilyn and Herminia presented ideas to help teachers learn how to get their students to share their problem solving strategies and mathematical thinking. Marilyn talked specifically about how she set up her classroom community to promote students solving problems in various ways and then discussing their strategies in both small and large group settings. She also talked about the importance of choosing good problems to foster discussion. Herminia elaborated on this important issue and shared a process she used to choose problems from her text to modify to not only challenge her students, but make the problems more relevant to them as well.

Carol Fisher and Lois Bloom discussed their roles in interviewing students for the research and subsequent research findings. The study found that students in both CGI classrooms were able to solve more problems than students in the control classrooms. It was also significantly noted that first graders were not intimidated by problems they could not solve. Many of the children tried more than one way to solve problems and did not give up easily in their attempts to find the answer. The study outline and results can be obtained by contacting Leslie Garrison via e-mail at If you wish to communicate with any of workshop presenters they can be reached at the following e-mail addresses:

Carol Fisher,
Lois Bloom,
Marilyn McAlister,
Heminia Leon-Herrera

*VIM is completing the third year of a five-year LSC grant funded by the National Science Foundation. VIM does mathematics staff development for K-8 teachers in 14 school districts in the Imperial Valley of California. To date, VIM has trained over 200 teachers in CGI and last year did over 1700 hours of classroom follow up work helping teachers better implement CGI in their classrooms. VIM personnel will be making a workshop presentation at the 10th International Congress on Mathematics Education meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark in July of this year. The presentation entitled: “Grasp the Language/Grasp the Mathematics” is based on another aspect of VIM research concerning how to help English Language Learners be better mathematics problem solvers.

To learn more about VIM activities and research contact: or VIM Coordinator, Royce Page at

URL link:
published in: NCTM Workshop
presented at: NCTM 2004
published: April 23, 2004
posted to site: 06/15/2004