What was the most useful/valuable aspect of our lesson study work together: Some Shared Reflections
Aspect of Lesson Study: Lesson Writing and Revision
- I was less confident and competent in lesson planning. I was more fluid. Now I’m thinking about how to set a goal, how to plan towards a goal, to account for what needs to happen, to anticipate and plan for the unexpected and to know how and if the lesson goal has been achieved.
- The work we did as a group has given me much more insight into putting together a thoughtful and meaningful lesson.
- I need to be more organized – with the TASC, students need more structure. I need to think 4-5 classes down the line, to work more sequentially towards something.
- I need to be focused in planning over the course of a whole semester.
- Being able to do the lesson twice really helped us refine it.
Aspect of Lesson Study: Observation
- Amazing to watch skilled, experienced teachers teach a lesson that I knew so well. I knew the lesson, I knew our goals and I could imagine myself in both teachers’ shoes. Small differences come out and lead to greater awareness of teaching choices (not to mention all the little things that are not related to our study that I will steal).
- Teaching one of the research lessons was pivotal for me. I had the benefit of seeing the lesson taught by someone else first.
Aspect of Lesson Study: Community
- Getting together and thinking through each step – other teachers opened my perspective
- This is diametrically opposite of being isolated in my teaching
- I taught the first lesson, but I didn’t feel pressure to perform or second guess myself. The goal was the lesson and I really felt that.
- The process was incredibly enriching even for me as a seasoned teacher.
Aspect of Lesson Study: Being a Scientist of Student Thinking
- I give students a lot of work, but now I’m thinking about the collection of materials as a way to see if a lesson’s goal has been achieved.
- This was a shift in my role, in the teachers role, in the class. The bulk of my work has to be done outside of class. In class I need to put students in the process so they get to experience the math. If I talk a lot, I am not prepared.
- One question that occurred to me a few times during both observations was “What is every student taking away from this step right now?” – and there were times when the activity drew out their thinking so I could answer that question and there were a few moments when it didn’t. I feel like I should always plan my lessons to be able to answer.
- By working on the lesson together, we may have initially started out with different ideas, but came closer to consensus the more work we did.
- Further Explorations in Geometry
There was interest in thinking about our research lesson as a framework spread out over an entire semester.
Research Question: How could we build a gradual step by step sequence, incorporate manipulatives, and go through all of these shapes with a lower level class?
Research Question: How could we teach these things so students can discover things as opposed to just giving them the formula? How could we incorporate lessons exploring where the formulas come from? Is there a way to evaluate the T/F statements without the formulas?
- Teacher Community
There was also interest in continuing (and expanding) the work of our math teacher community. One idea was having a group of math teachers all focus on a particular content (perhaps geometry), at least for part of the semester. This would allow for collaboration across different levels and potentially end with materials and a sequence for a framework of lessons and activities. Another idea was to partner teachers up over the course of a semester with time to collaborate and offer feedback to each other.
An important component to lesson study is sharing our findings and process with other teachers. We talked about three potential things to share:
- The lesson study cycle and process
- Our research lesson
- What we learned about student thinking/lesson planning/etc.
The group will approach the Lehman PD committee to ask about presenting to the program director, other math teachers, other content area teachers including ESL.
As our lesson study cycle comes to a close, I wanted to share an article which I thought connected with some of the takeaways about lesson planning and teacher talk that teachers shared. The article describes 5 planning steps for orchestrating effective math discussions:
- Anticipating student responses to mathematical tasks;
- Monitoring students’ work on and engagement with the task;
- Selecting particular students to present their mathematical work;
- Sequencing the student responses that will be displayed in a specific order; and
- Connecting different students’ responses and connecting the responses to key mathematical ideas.