Japanese Lesson Study Summary

Monday, June 30, 2003

We started off our first session by introducing ourselves and by mentioning what we know about Japanese lesson study. Most of us are very new to this topic but expressed a desire to use this process to improve the collaboration process within our departments. Many of us share common finals, assessments, and lessons and see Japanese lesson study as a wonderful vehicle for focusing on student learning and the lesson creation process.

We were very privileged to have Jim Hiebert from the University of Delaware join us for the afternoon and share some insights about the history of Japanese lesson study. Apparently, the origins for Japanese lesson study began with a fascination and respect for the ideas of American John Dewey. Previous to WWII, followers of John Dewey were pretty much underground, but after WWII the Japanese revised their entire educational system along these ideas. Japanese lesson study was a grass roots, teacher organized movement which for some reason never really migrated to the high school level. However, it is very much a part of Elementary and Middle school classrooms with a fifty year track record.

Gail told us that she had made arrangements for us to work with about 10 students who are in a summer get ahead Geometry class. These students will be going into 9th, 10th, or 11th grade in the fall and their teacher is Lars Nordfelt. We plan to teach our lesson to these students on Thursday of the 3rd week (July 17, 2003).

Gail shared a short Power Point Presentation on Japanese lesson study which explained that the main focus is two fold: mathematics and what students are doing. The lesson study is made up of three components: pre-lesson, lesson, post lesson. The pre-lesson is the phase where teachers organize and transform content knowledge using the purpose of the lesson. During the lesson phase, the plan is executed taking continual notice of what students are doing and making adjustments accordingly. The post-lesson phase is an opportunity to reflect on the lesson using the lesson goals.

We then watched a demonstration lesson entitled "Function Thinking at Grade 6." This gave us a chance to see how the lesson was taught and then the following post-lesson critique. Some of us noted how difficult it would be to have your lesson taken apart during the critique and that we would need to remind ourselves that the focus is on student learning, the lesson itself, and not the personality of the teacher!

For homework, we were to choose a topic in Geometry that either has great significance, is an important transition, introduces something big, or is a place to make connections.

Then we adjourned to the computer lab to get everyone logged on to the PCMI web site and to check out the important resources and communication tools available to us.

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0314808.
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