Lesson Study is a school-based, professional learning approach in which teachers collaborate to study content, instruction, and how students learn and in order to improve the their instruction (Stigler & Hiebert, 1999). Teachers carefully explore how student learning, thinking and behavior changes as a result of the lesson and subsequent lesson revisions. Lesson Study involves a cyclical and systematic process of planning, observation, reflection, and revision of a researched lesson (Sims & Walsh, 2009).
This iterative lesson study process is recognized by the National Staff Development Council as one of the most powerful designs for building professional learning communities (PLCs). Because of the potential for improved instructional practice, Texas has initiated a lesson study initiative in which refined lessons are shared on the Texas Gateway website. Putting the time into lesson study generates the following benefits:
- It builds a collaborative culture among teachers.
- It promotes teacher reflection.
- It Improves teacher understanding of student learning.
Builds a Collaborative Culture
Teaching is typically described as isolating because the majority of teachers spend their days in their own classroom, with minimal opportunities for collaboration (Stigler & Hiebert, 1999). Researchers have identified that a lack of a collegial work environment along with time for collaboration and planning, are among the top reasons teacher give for leaving the profession. Lesson study can cultivate communities of practice in which teachers can validate, share and extend their expertise. Collaboration that occurs as a result of a shared experience has been found to be a key component to teacher morale and improved school culture.
Lesson Study Promotes Teacher Reflection
A great deal of research has established the importance of reflection in teacher professional development. Findings also indicate that the context of professional development for teachers must be tailored to their direct experiences for them to significantly use the outcomes.
Lesson study, incorporates most of the promising features of a professional development model where teachers work with colleagues and experts to improve their instructional practices and deepen their subject matter knowledge. It is grounded on the idea that professional learning happens during social interaction among peers with similar goals. The process enhances teachers’ capacity to look into their enacted practices in order to refine the lesson.
The lesson study process, creates an opportunity for the teachers to provide colleagues with insightful reflections on their instructional practices as well as personal reflections as they deliver and revise a lesson. Teachers often report that the sharing and reflection stages in the lesson study process gives them greater insights into the needs of their students, improved their pedagogical practices and provided a deeper understanding of the curriculum.
Lesson Study Improves Teacher Understanding of Student Thinking
Another outcome of lesson study is its ability to focus teachers’ attention on student thinking (Lewis, Perry, & Murata, 2006). It encourages the team to attend more deliberately to how the features and instructional format of a lesson affects students’ thinking. Chombski refers to this as “adopting a student lens” in which teachers anticipate student responses, observe actual responses and consider improvements in order to build student understanding.
Maximizing Benefits of Lesson Study with TeacherPlanBook
Not surprisingly, concern regarding a shortage of time for meaningful collaboration has been identified by teachers considering lesson study. However, cloud-based applications such as TeacherPlanBook can facilitate collaboration, reflection and revision of the lesson without the need for extensive face-to-face meetings.
TeacherPlanBook allows lesson study teams to easily collaborate and share lessons, save lessons for future use as well as note reflections and revisions. Using this application for ongoing collaboration and lesson revision can save time and maximize face-to-face meetings to focus on deeper discussions around student misconceptions and pedagogical strategies. The embedded evidence-based strategies, formative assessment and IEP/504 modifications also support teachers is considering the needs of all students as well as considering a variety of instructional practices in their lesson.
Chokshi, S. & Fernandez, C. (2004). Challenges to importing Japanese lesson study: Concerns, misconceptions, and nuances. Phi Delta Kappan, 85(7), 520–525
Fernandez, C. (2005). Lesson study: A means for elementary teachers to develop the knowledge of mathematics needed for reform-minded teaching? Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 7(4), 265–289. Gorman, J., Mark, J., &
Lewis, C., Perry, R., & Murata, A. (2006). How should research contribute to instructional improvement? The case of lesson study. Educational Researcher, 35(3), 3–14.
Stigler, J., & Hiebert, J., (1999). The teaching gap. New York: The Free Press.
Sims, L. & Walsh, D. (2009). Lesson Study with preservice teachers: Lessons from lessons. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25(5), 724–733