Lesson Study Revisited

You might find this article about lesson study from The Hechinger Report interesting. Carnegie is using lesson study, not exactly in the way outlined in this article, but to improve our mathematics pathways. Statway and Quantway faculty teams at each community college site will be organized into lesson study groups. They will work together to plan instruction, observe each other teaching, and identify the most difficult and high-priority obstacles that stand in the way of success of the pathways. The pathways curriculum materials are built upon three “learning opportunities” in the instructional design of the pathways — productive struggle, explicit connections to concepts, and deliberate practice. These learning opportunities are interconnected and not necessarily exclusive of each other and are designed to support a deep and more meaningful understanding of mathematical and statistical concepts. Lessons study provides a framework for rigorously and carefully improving the pathway in its entirety from curriculum development to implementation in the classroom.

Lesson study is a professional development strategy used extensively in Japan that essentially dissects a teacher’s lesson and the way it’s delivered. Here’s how it works: teachers come up with a detailed lesson plan and explain ahead of time to colleagues the goals of the lesson. Then, one teacher tries the lesson out on a group of students, while dozens of other teachers watch what happens. Finally, the observers offer feedback and ideas for improvement. “[We’ve been] doing lesson study more than 100 years in Japan,” says Toshiakira Fujii, a premier professor of math education in Japan who was among those teachers observing at Jorge Prieto Elementary on Chicago’s’ northwest side. “But lesson study in the United States is quite new.” “Traditional American professional development is somebody outside comes and then does for teachers,” says Takahashi. But he argues there is a lot that teachers can do on their own. “My goal is in every school teachers gather and then find a new way to improve lessons by themselves.”
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