Lesson Study: From Japan to Lawrence

Superintendent’s Open Forum @ Lawrence
Monday, March 16, 2015
8:00-9:00 am – Library
Please join us for an open discussion with Superintendent Bill Lupini.

SET-J Parent Presentation
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
8:00-9:00 am – Library
Literacy Coach Dianne Muendel will speak about her trip to Japan last June.

Lesson Study:  From Japan to Lawrence
During the 1990’s, the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) examined and compared teaching practices in Germany, Japan and the United States.   The results of this study were described in a book called The Teaching Gap by James Stigler and James Hiebert, first published in 1999 and reissued in 2009.  One practice from Japan that was highlighted in the book was a process called lesson study.

Lesson study involves selecting a research lesson for in-depth study.  A team of teachers works together to plan the lesson in detail.   A teacher teaches the lesson while the rest of the team observes and takes notes on the focus areas identified by the group.  The team then meets and debriefs the lesson.  The lesson is then revised and retaught in another classroom.

Last June, Literacy Coach Dianne Muendel traveled to Japan and had an opportunity to observe lesson study in action first hand.   I first used lesson study while working in my previous school in Lowell to improve the teaching of mathematics.

We have begun experimenting with the use of lesson study at Lawrence this year.  Facilitated by Dianne, grades 3-5 teachers have participated in one round of lesson study with their team.   Each team identified a long-term goal and a focus question.  For example, a recent third grade cycle focused on:

  • Long Term Goal:  Students will be able to develop their metacognitive skills and apply their past knowledge in order to read unfamiliar texts more accurately.
  • Focus Question:  How can we teach students to recognize the level of background knowledge that they bring to a text in order to choose an effective reading strategy?

Among the many benefits of lesson study are that it…

  • Is based on long-term continuous improvement
  • Maintains a constant focus on student learning
  • Focuses on direct improvement of teaching in context
  • Is collaborative
  • Involves teachers in contributing to the knowledge base of teaching as well as to their own professional development

We plan to continue and expand our work with lesson study next year.

MCAS Begins Next Week

As was previously communicated in an email to Gr. 3-8 families the MCAS testing schedule has been revised slightly due to the number of snow days.  The revised schedule is:

  • Monday 3/23 & Tuesday 3/24:  Gr. 3 & 5 ELA
  • Wednesday 3/25 & Thursday 3/26:  Gr. 4 & 7 ELA
  • Monday, March 30 & Tuesday, March 31: Gr. 6 & 8 ELA
  • Thursday, April 2:  Gr. 4 & 7:  Long Composition

Rick Rogers


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