Thursday, March 7, 2013

Learning from Lesson Study

I am facilitating cycle three of lesson study for eleventh and twelfth grade English teachers this week. Lesson study is a professional development priority in my district. It's a two day process for each cycle: planning the research lesson and delivering the research lesson (while others gather data). We kick off the two days with a pre-meeting which lasts about an hour. We've spent that time choose our academic goal, our 21st century goal and passing out the lesson and article reading for the cycle.

I wish teachers had more time. I wish teachers felt they had more time--heck, I wish I felt that way every day. Many days I find myself mentally reciting, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity..." Time is the most valuable resource teachers have and like any high-demand resource, supply is limited. I love lesson study. I love how it gives me time to watch students during a lesson in order to catch and capture their learning. I don't feel most lesson study teams have that same love for data collection. I keep wanting to attach it to the time shortage, but it could be something else.

This team met on Tuesday  to plan the research lesson and today one of the team will teach the lesson to another's class while the rest of us eagle-eye students, listen in and gather data. We are investigating student learning. Our goal is to find out if students learn what the team intends for them to learn in the lesson. The team selected "integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media" as their academic and learning goal. I wonder how that goal will go over with students. Will students see and understand it's meaning--there's a lot in there. How can I lead teachers to dig out the details?

I've written about lesson study before here. Today, I'm not thinking (yet) about the takeaways this team of teachers will come to; instead, I'm wondering how I can support them as we gather and analyze student data. There are gems we could unearth. We'll see what happens. It's time to begin!

Enjoy Thursday!


  1. I am so excited to bump into someone else doing lesson study! I am a pd service provider from NY, and many of the districts that I serve have moved with me in this direction over the last dseveral years. I've done everything from workshops to online courses to instructional coaching at this point, and while each experience has its place and purpose, I tend to learn the most from lesson study, and teachers do too. Putting that close eye on instruction--and kids--illuminates so many surprising and critical things. I'm wondering: is your data capture guided by prompts or focal points?

    1. Hi, Angela,
      Lessson study is fantastic professional development. This is my fourth year facilitating it and though teams start at different places (as a team and as teachers), I am always amazed at how much they and I learn along the way. My district uses materials developed by the Developmental Studies Center to guide lesson study and DSC recommends using prompts--behavior and learning markers generated by the team--to guide data collection. That being said each site adapts the materials to fit their needs or the needs of different teams. We approach data capture more organically, so we are not going into a lesson with too many preconceived ideas to "tally" instead we look for what students are saying, doing or showing and then take that raw data and look for patterns that tell us if and what students learned. How do you help teachers gather data during a research lesson?