Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lesson Study and Observations

My wife always seems to complain that I think I know every thing and I think I’m perfect. I’m not sure where she gets that because I usually think of my self as a sort of humble guy.
It occurs to me that some of these resource emails might make it look like I think I know everything and want to explain it to everyone. That is not the case. Most of these resources do not come from my personal in class experience. I haven’t taught regularly in the classroom for a few years now. I get to teach a lesson here or there, but really I spend most of my time as the second teacher in the room.
Most of these resources though come from what is commonly called a PLN or a personal learning network. These are teachers and administrators who are using these activities in the classroom. So no I don’t use these things but some people whom I think are pretty good teachers have used them in the classroom.
With that in mind I want to go back to videos in the classroom. Students aren’t the only ones who learn from watching video we can too. I know as a student teacher most of us video tapes a lesson and turned it in to our supervisor. Did you ever watch it with your supervisor?
In Japan they have a professional development called Lesson Study. Many people assume right off that this is basically an observation. It isn’t. The first difference is the observation is done in a non-evaluative way. Second, the lesson plan is written and developed by the group of teachers who will be observing the lesson. Third, the purpose is not to evaluate the teacher, but to evaluate the lesson and the learning.
It is very similar to, though much more involved, than the newer take on observation called purposeful observations. That is the focus is on the effectiveness of the lesson in terms of are the students learning.
So here is my suggested resource for the week. Grab a feaw friends and design a lesson or two together. Have one person on the team teach the lesson, either while the others are observing or video tape the lesson. Then meet and determine if the lesson was working the way you designed it.  But be purposeful about it. Decide if you are going to look at student engagement, or group work, or concept knowledge, or transfer of concept, or what every you like as long as the focus is on anything but what the teacher did wrong.  For some help or further insight here is some advice from other teachers.
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