Questions and Answers
How large must a Lesson Study group be?
There is no specified size. Groups can be as small as three or as large as 16.
How do you get started?
It is helpful for those in the group to attend an awareness session on lesson study (LS) or to attend a study. Several videos are now available for use in such presentations. A group that is willing to work through the LS cycle should then set a schedule of meetings over a four to six week period and a date for the lesson to be taught.
What support is necessary?
Groups benefit from the guidance of a person knowledgeable about lesson study. They also may want to involve a content specialist as they work through questions about content and/or as an observer and commentator. It is essential that arrangements be made for members of the study group to observe the lesson when it is taught. A place also should be reserved for the debriefing.
What are key points for a Lesson Study Group to keep in mind?
- The purpose of the study is to learn something about students’ thinking. It is not a demonstration lesson.
- Comments and reflection should focus on the goals set by the group, not on an individual teacher or someone else’s agenda.
- Everyone has something to contribute and all ideas should be respected and weighed. If there were already a recipe for teaching something perfectly all students would be high achievers and there would be nothing to explore. But teaching is a complex act and there are many reasons lessons may work in one situation and not in another.
- Do not try to rush the process. Teachers too often try to begin with a lesson in mind instead of with goals in mind. Even with goals, they want to jump to the lesson before investigating how the content develops and what prior knowledge students must have.
What do teachers get out of Lesson Study?
- Lesson Study at its inner core makes teachers more aware of how students think and learn.
- It reveals the importance of knowing both the big developmental picture of what you are teaching and the value of paying attention to and working out minute details that affect student learning.
- It emphasizes the need for clear goals and focused lessons.
- It draws attention to the importance of getting language right.
- It brings home the need to think ahead to how you will close a lesson so students can make sense of it.
- The learning it produces in teachers is used throughout their teaching.
- Even students have said that they feel good that adults are interested in how they think.
- It does produce a group of lessons that are available for sharing along with reports of what works well and what not so well.