View Full Version : Local News A Japanese strategy for helping teachers improve their craft is catching on in Chicago

01-10-2012, 10:40 AM
From WBEZ (http://www.wbez.org/story/class-dissection-lesson-study-aims-improve-teaching-95370) by Linda Lutton:

In the sunlit library at Jorge Prieto Elementary on Chicago’s’ northwest side, an experiment is underway.

A provisional classroom has been set up. A white board sits at the front of the room, and 20 eighth graders are seated at library tables. Math teacher Michael Hock is giving a lesson about the distributive property.

Scattered throughout the room are some 30 other teachers. They aren’t wearing lab coats—but they might as well be. They clutch clipboards and carefully monitor kids’ reactions to the teacher’s explanations, peering over students’ shoulders as they write answers.

“What is the area of the garden?” Hock asks students as he points to an illustration on the white board. “Nestor, I haven’t heard from you today.”

Nestor answers the question, and the 30 adults, including visiting teachers from Japan, scribble notes.

The exercise is called “lesson study.” It’s a professional development strategy used extensively in Japan that essentially dissects a teacher’s lesson and the way it’s delivered.

Here’s how it works: teachers come up with a detailed lesson plan and explain ahead of time to colleagues the goals of the lesson. Then, one teacher tries the lesson out on a group of students, while dozens of other teachers watch what happens. Finally, the observers offer feedback and ideas for improvement.

“[We’ve been] doing lesson study more than 100 years in Japan,” says Toshiakira Fujii, a premier professor of math education in Japan who was among those teachers observing at Prieto. “But lesson study in the United States is quite new.”

Fujii says Japanese teachers see lesson study as a proving ground, a way to shine in front of their colleagues.

“You can see [it] everywhere in Japan,” says Fujii. “In Tokyo in the case it’s Wednesday. Wednesday [we] usually finish at lunch time. Then one class stays, and the other classes dismiss. And then every teacher comes to that one class and observes. Even the school nurse and school counselor also join to watch the lesson—that’s our traditional way.”

There’s been lots of talk about how Chicago should evaluate teachers. Lesson study is being billed as a way to help teachers improve.

The strategy is one both teachers unions and school districts say they like. The head of instruction in Chicago Public Schools says she’s a fan of lesson study. The Chicago Teachers Union helped organize the lesson study at Prieto—and convenes other sessions on holidays like Pulaski Day, when students and teachers volunteer to participate.

read more>> (http://www.wbez.org/story/class-dissection-lesson-study-aims-improve-teaching-95370)