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An Overview of Lesson StudyLesson Study Research Group (LSRG) Teachers College, Columbia University Clea Fernandez Makoto Yoshida Sonal Chokshi Joanna Cannon Please do not use without permission.
© 2001, Lesson Study Research Group (firstname.lastname@example.org).What is Lesson Study? Lesson study is a professional development process that Japanese teachers engage in to systematically examine their practice. The goal of lesson study is to improve the effectiveness of the experiences that the teachers provide to their students. © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
A Focus on the Examination of LessonsThe core activity in lesson study is for teachers to collaboratively work on a small number of “study lessons”. These lessons are called “study” lessons because they are used to examine the teachers’ practice. © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
Working on a Study Lesson:Research and preparation: The teachers jointly draw up a detailed plan for the study lesson. Implementation: A teacher teaches the study lesson in a real classroom while other group members look on. Reflection and improvement: The group comes together to discuss their observations of the lesson. Second implementation and reflection: (optional but recommended) Another teacher teaches the study lesson in a second classroom while group members look on; this is followed by the group coming together again to discuss the observed instruction. © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
Working on a Study Lesson:(Research & Preparation) (Implementation) (Reflection & Improvement) (Reflection & Filing of Records) Group Meetings Study Lesson (1) Study Lesson (2) Average time= hours in about 3 weeks (Optional) © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
1. Planning a Study Lesson© 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
2a. Implementing the Study LessonFor the second step, one of the first grade teachers taught the lesson that was developed during the previous meetings, to her students. © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
© 2001, Lesson Study Research Group (email@example.com).2b. Observing the Study Lesson During the lesson, all the teachers from the school observed the lesson. In this slide, you can see three teachers taking notes during the lesson. Other teachers were standing in the back of the classroom. © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
3. Reflecting on the Study LessonFor step three, the teachers in the Lower Grade Level Group met again and talked about the lesson. Actually the teachers held two meetings to reflect on and improve the lesson. © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
Re-Implementing the Study LessonFor step four, another first grade teacher from the group taught the improved version of the lesson to her class. This time, not only all the teachers from the school observed the lesson, but an outside school advisor also observed the lesson. © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
Reflecting on the Study LessonFor the last step of the Lesson Study, an All Staff Meeting was held at the Staff Room to discuss the lesson. The Staff Room is the room where all teachers have their own desks. © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
Lesson Study is a Goal-Driven ActivityTeachers select an overarching goal to guide their work on all the study lessons. A school generally works on the same overarching goal and same content area for 3-4 years. Every year the overarching lesson study goal is refined as the group’s understanding of this goal evolves as a result of doing lesson study. For each study lesson, the teachers also select lesson-specific goals. © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
The Process for Setting an Overarching Lesson Study GoalThe teachers will identify and discuss the gaps they see between the kinds of children they want to nurture and the types of students that are actually growing up in the school. The teachers will then select a goal to work on that they feel will help them move closer to their aspirations for the students. © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
Examples of Overarching Lesson Study Goals“Fostering students' lively and autonomous behaviors by developing their physical strength and health.” Using a Japanese language class to “foster students' ability to wrestle with topics they discover on their own.” © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
The Process for Setting Levels of Goals in Lesson StudyStep 1: The teachers select an overarching lesson study goal (see previous slides). Step 2: The teachers identify content-specific goals to focus on in the study lesson. Step 3: The teachers think about the relationship between the study lesson’s content-specific goals and the overarching lesson study goal. Step 4: The teachers identify areas to focus on for the content-specific goals. © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
Examples of the Levels of Lesson Study GoalsStep 1 (overarching lesson study goal): “Students will become independent problem solvers.” Step 2 (content-specific goal): “How to find the area of a triangle” Step 3 (relating content-specific goal and overarching lesson study goal): “Students will independently discover how to find the area of a triangle.” Step 4 (identifying content-specific areas to focus on): “To explore how manipulatives can be used to help students independently figure out the formula for finding area of a triangle.” © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
© 2001, Lesson Study Research Group (firstname.lastname@example.org).The Lesson Plan Format You may download a sample study lesson plan format directly from the resources section of the LSRG website ( under “Tools for Conducting Lesson Study”. © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
The Lesson Plan is the Backbone of Lesson StudyThe lesson plan supports the lesson study process, by serving as a: Teaching tool--it provides a script for the activities of the lesson Communication tool--it conveys to others the thinking of the teachers who planned the lesson Observation tool--it provides guidelines for what to look for in the lesson, and a place for the observers to record and share these observations. © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
The Organization of Lesson StudyStudy lessons are planned by sub-groups of 4-6 teachers who generally teach the same/ similar grades. Each sub-group will generally carry out 2 or 3 lesson study cycles per year, which they schedule in advance around important school events (e.g., festivals, testing). Sub-groups working on a study lesson have a weekly meeting time, generally after school. Time is also scheduled for teachers to share their work across sub-groups. In addition to the teachers who worked on the study lesson, other teachers at the school make every effort to come view and discuss the study lessons. © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
Example Schedule for a Year of Lesson StudyApril May June July August September October November December January February March 1st Trimester 2nd Trimester 3rd Trimester (Summer Vacation) Groundwork Lower-Grade Sub-Group Middle-Grade Sub-Group Upper-Grade Sub-Group Group Meetings Study Lesson (1) Study Lesson (2) © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
How Do Lesson Study Groups Share Their Work and Exchange Ideas?Reports/ Publications Outside Advisors Lesson Study Open House Rotations of Teachers Structural Supports for Teachers © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
Reports and PublicationsTeachers write reports about their lesson study work, which they often share with other teachers/ schools. These reports are often published and are available at bookstores. In Japan, teachers publish more than researchers. The report is more than just a collection of lesson plans and lesson materials. It is a reflective piece that includes a discussion of the motivations, goals, achievements, and challenges behind each lesson study process. © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
Excerpt from a Report:on the overarching goalExample of an overarching goal statement: “Promoting students' ability to think autonomously, invent, and learn from each other while focusing on problem solving in mathematics.” Summary written by the teachers about how they identified the above overarching goal: The students at this school are cheerful, obedient and are very enthusiastic about learning. However, it seems as if they have not acquired the skills to think deeply about one problem, listen and pay attention to the comments of other students, and respect the opinions of other students. Moreover, as the students reach the upper grade levels (fifth and sixth grade), they become more and more afraid of making mistakes in front of other students. As a result of this fear, they become less willing to be active participants in the learning process. In order to address these problems, our school decided on the topic “Promoting students’ ability to think on their own, invent, and learn from each other." We felt that by choosing this topic we could build on each students' strong desire to learn (when they face a new subject) and teach (them how to enhance their learning from) other students' ideas and from their mistakes (and the mistakes of others), while at same time fostering a feeling of success among all the students. © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
Research Report BookletMany schools produce a booklet, often called “Summary of Lesson Study” at the end of school year. It usually includes all the lesson plans developed through the year and comments and reflections. This picture shows the booklets that were produced by Tsuta Elementary School which were provided to all the participants of the Open House Study Lesson. © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
Publications by Teachers Education Section at Japanese Bookstore:© 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
© 2001, Lesson Study Research Group (email@example.com).Outside Advisor Also known as the “outside examiner”, “invited advisor”, or “reactor” This person is usually an outside expert or researcher, who has been invited to occasionally advise the group. The invited advisor serves three purposes: (1) to provide a different perspective when reacting to the lesson study work of the group; (2) to provide information about math content, new ideas, or reforms, and (3) to share the work of other lesson study groups. © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
Lesson Study Open HouseThe open house allows a school to share its lesson study work with other schools, although not all schools in Japan conduct open houses. The main activities of the open house are teaching study lessons for the invited guests (usually teachers and principals), and discussing these study lessons with them. Lesson plans are distributed to guests, along with a booklet that describes the school and the lesson study work being conducted there. The outside advisor also attends these events. © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
© 2001, Lesson Study Research Group (firstname.lastname@example.org).Open House Study Lesson (6th Grade) On the day of the Open House Study Lesson. About 60 teachers from 35 schools in the Western Region of Hiroshima showed up. Tsuta Elementary School prepared three Study Lessons for this event and this was one of them. © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
© 2001, Lesson Study Research Group (email@example.com).Participants stood around both sides and the back of the classroom to observe the lesson. © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
© 2001, Lesson Study Research Group (firstname.lastname@example.org).In case of the 4th grade Study Lesson the participants could not fit in the classroom so they observed the lesson from the hallway. © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
© 2001, Lesson Study Research Group (email@example.com).Open House (Post-Lesson Conference): There was a “Post Lesson Conference” where observers asked questions on the Study Lesson that they observed. © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
© 2001, Lesson Study Research Group (firstname.lastname@example.org).Party Time!! Having parties after any big school event is a very common thing to do in Japan and many teachers believe that they help making a strong tie of the teachers. © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
© 2001, Lesson Study Research Group (email@example.com).Rotating Teachers In Japan, the movement of teachers both across and within schools allows teachers to exchange their ideas. Teachers are regularly rotated across schools. Typically, a teacher can only stay at the same school for a maximum of 10 years. Teachers are also regularly rotated through grade levels within their schools. © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
Structural Supports for TeachersWithin schools, the structure of the teachers’ staff room also facilitates the sharing process, since the teachers’ desks are arranged together in a single room. While the students’ school day ends at 3 PM, the teachers’ workday ends at 5 PM; this schedule provides more time for teacher activities (including lesson study). A common national curriculum (Ministry of Education’s Course of Study Guidelines) also supports the sharing of lesson study conversations across schools. © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
Lesson Study is Conducted in Many Forms and VenuesIn-school Whole group Content area study groups Across schools Regionally organized Voluntarily organized clubs and circles Organized by educational associations and institutions Part of mandated beginning teacher education* *Note: pre-service teachers in Japan have less student teaching experiences than U.S. teachers, but more mandated in-service training, which includes lesson study activities © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
How Widespread is Lesson Study?The vast majority of elementary schools and many middle schools (but very few high schools) in Japan conduct formal lesson study. However, the lesson study “mentality” is very widespread, and often leads to informal lesson study activities (planning, teaching, observing, and reflecting) about practice. As one Japanese teacher put it, “Whenever I have a free period, I go to another classroom and sit down at the back of the classroom and pretend that I am a student.” © 2001, Lesson Study Research Group
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