by Sally B. Gutierez
Researchers claim that personal reflection on one’s practice is one of the methods of capability building among teachers (Darling-Hammond & Richardson, 2009); Glickman, Gordon, & Ross-Gordon, 2009; Reeves, 2010). Moreover, by blending reflective practice into continuing professional development, teachers develop self-knowledge and self-challenge on their professional learning journey (Leitch & Day, 2000; Klein, 2008; Ng & Tan, 2009). Based on these claims, effective professional development for teachers goes beyond enhancing their knowledge and skills to providing them with opportunities of self-reflection within a support group that establishes sustainability and collaboration. In education, a growing interest to move away from one-shot workshops has attracted education specialists to instigate a life-long learning community among in-service teachers. Teacher inquiry groups (Crockett, 2002), peer coaching, collaborative teacher consultation, teacher mentoring (Brownwell, Adams, Sindelar, Waldron & Vanhover, 2006), lesson study (Lieberman, 2009), and collaborative professional learning (Gutierez, 2015) are just few of the promising teacher professional development models at the present. According to Shriki and Movshovitz-Hadar (2011), through these professional development activities, teachers are able to acquire new knowledge and skills by participating in a learning community that focuses on teaching practices as learning objects.
Reflective practice in education is said to scaffold critical thinking (Conway, 2001) and promote self-regulation (Singh, 2008; Boud, 2007) as the teaching process is believed to be a process that is open to examination and deliberation (Van Manen, 1995; Schön, 1983; Elliot, 2001) for significant improvement in the teachers’ instructional practices (Kemmis & McTaggart 1988). Engaging in a reflective practice provides rigor in the shared repertoire of knowledge development through constructive sharing of opinions and feedbacks. Constant interaction draws collegial and critical examination of their actual teaching practices (Daniel, Auhl, & Hastings, 2013). In this method, feedback forms the basis of critical analysis which provides sustainable evaluation of existing practices (Han, 1995; Hatton & Smith, 1995). On-going feedback thus becomes a crucial component in a community of reflective practitioners in response to the changing paradigms of professional engagement. Through feedback, Loughran (2002) stressed the importance of establishing meaning to actual experiences so that these may be valued ‘in ways that minimize the possibility establishing a routine on a faulty teaching practice’ (pp. 34). In light of the foregoing literature, reflective practice brings implicit knowledge based on actual practice so that it can be recognized, questioned, and perfected (Parra, Gutierrez, & Aldana, 2015). Classroom practices serve as the objects of learning and not from the theoretical knowledge from formal education settings (Schön, 1983).
Lesson study captures the idea of enhanced learning and intellectual functioning when a group collaboratively work together which eventually leads to the development of personal expertise as a product of the constant interaction and deep reflection (Hadar & Brody, 2010). This means that constant interaction is vital to the optimum development of instructional practices. Moreover, the sustainable collaborative reflection to evaluate teaching routines not only examines the alignment of teaching practices to new and existing paradigms but builds a community of practice where teachers become more critical and constructive with each other (Achinstein, 2002; Grossman, Wineburg, & Woolworth, 2001; Little, 1990, 1999; Witziers, Sleegers, & Imants, 1999).
In a qualitative study which documented and categorized the reflective practices of three (3) groups of public elementary school science teachers from their year-long professional development through lesson study, findings reveal that there exist three types of reflection exemplified by the teachers across the stages of the lesson study process but these were hardly noticed during normal conversations. In-depth analyses of the transcripts show that the team mostly used descriptive reflection and this occurred mostly during the planning and goal setting stage (47.37%) and in the post-lesson reflection and discussion ([PRD], 41.78%]) between the teachers and the “knowledgeable others.” The presence of the knowledgeable others prompted the teachers to engage in a critical dialogue and make attempts to evaluate their lessons. In this study, critical reflection is considered as the highest form of reflective practice thus, as beginning reflective practitioners, teachers showed less skill on this method of reflection. However, the 26.24% attempts to use this reflection is indicative of teachers’ potential to become reflective practitioners among themselves which increases in the presence of the knowledgeable others in the planning and goal setting and PRD stages given a sustainable and enough opportunities.
Analyses show that the participatory, collegial, and collaborative nature of lesson study were the enabling factors in the open sharing of information and establishment of consensual and mutual understanding (Cooper, 2014) between and among the teachers and the knowledgeable others. This supports the claims of Healy (2009) who said that collective and reflective approaches to evaluate professional practice supports the development of understanding leading to a shared professional identity. This adapts the claim of Marcos, Sanchez, and Tillema (2011) that reflective practice among teachers helps them to deliberate and solve instructional problems critically. Findings also indicate that a professional development activity tailored to the direct experiences of teachers result to significant outcomes.
Teaching science is often equated to preparing students to cope with the changes and challenges of their lives (Shamsudin, Abdullah, & Yaamat, 2013). In fact, the Next Generation Science Standards (NRC, 2000) stress that “science is the pursuit of explanations of the natural world, and technology and engineering are means of accommodating human needs, intellectual curiosity, and aspirations” (p. 2). Lesson study captures the essence of social constructivism which emphasizes the importance of social interaction through negotiation, discourse, reflection, and explanation in the construction of knowledge. This supports its effectiveness as an inquiry professional development model in increasing teacher subject-matter knowledge and pedagogical skills (Rock & Wilson, 2005). Aside from transforming conventional classrooms into inquiry-based classrooms, teachers are empowered to build a constructivist and self-regulated professional learning community where they undergo the processes of collaborative goal setting, lesson planning, observing and monitoring outcomes, reflecting, and revising lessons to achieve meaningful results in terms of student achievement.
Researchers attributed the importance of learning of historical experiences of social groups from visualizing the object of their learning. In lesson study, teachers examine their teaching practices to identify the critical lenses for students’ learning (Cheung & Wong, 2014). In the processes of lesson study, it is the understanding of the connection between teaching and learning that builds the relationship between how the intended content is “made possible to learn in a lesson and what the students are supposed to learn” (Cheung, 2011; Lo, Chik, & Pang, 2006; Marton & Pang, 2006; Pang & Marton, 2005) which makes it an effective professional development activity.
According to Supovitz and Turner (2000), the ultimate aim of professional development is to produce quality instructions in classrooms that bring about significant improvement in student learning. Lesson study takes into account the gathering of exemplary teaching practices directly from teachers in the field that provide sustained application of inquiry for both students and teachers. As the team reflects together with the knowledgeable others, they were able to identify the barriers of inquiry-based lesson implementation. Each of the members served as a support in the adaptation of new and effective teaching practices. Because of the constant interaction of the teachers, they were able to build connections between their classroom dynamics to specific curriculum standards. This supports the call of early education reformers to establish a professional development effort that is intensive, sustained, and where teachers are engaged in concrete teaching tasks so that changes are directly obtained from pieces of evidence from teachers’ experiences and student responses.
In this study, the lesson study framework was used to identify and bridge the three challenges in implementing inquiry-based teaching in elementary school science education in the Philippines, namely, a lack of support, training, and availability of inquiry-based materials; an overemphasis on assessing content learning rather than learning through inquiry; and the difficulty and time consuming nature of inquiry approaches. Because of the robust number of collaborative discussions in the process of lesson study, the data of this paper were obtained from audio recordings, field notes, and video recordings gathered from each cycle of lesson study conducted by the author and the team. These were supplemented by a formal interview from the six (6) in-service teachers. Analysis of data took place in two phases. First, all transcripts related to challenges in implementing inquiry-based teaching were selected. Patterns were noted, coded, and categorized using the constant comparison method (Strauss & Corbin, 1990).
Recognizing the challenges of inquiry-based teaching, the teachers valued the importance of their professional development through lesson study in bridging the current challenges of their instructional practices. Teachers’ insights revealed that lesson study became an opportunity for them to discuss about the common issues they face during instruction, clarify their misconceptions on inquiry-based teaching, and address their lack of learning resources to develop an effective lesson. Their constant collaboration helped them clarify their doubts and built their confidence, thus enabling them to be more comfortable in teaching. Moreover, the participative nature of lesson study helped them in analyzing, reflecting, and revising their research lessons which reduced their individual time to do lesson planning and preparation.
In this study, results indicated a strong need for today’s elementary school science teachers to engage in sustainable professional development as they struggle towards the proper implementation of inquiry-based teaching. After characterizing the teachers’ insights, it was understood that the teachers’ analyses of their instructional practices deepen as they continuously engage in collaborative and constructive self-assessment and discussions through lesson study. While committed to adapt inquiry as a teaching strategy, it became clear that in-service teachers need collegial and collaborative support in implementing inquiry inside their classrooms. They became very vocal concerning whom to approach when they have questions in both content and pedagogy and wanted opportunities to learn more on how to align inquiry to the diverse nature of pupils. Thus, based on the results, this study hopes to provide a benchmark of information on how teachers learn as they become engaged in collaborative inquiry wherein their own classrooms become an object of their learning.
Complete and en-depth analysis of this article can be obtained from the following:
Gutierez, S. B. (2015). Collaborative professional learning: Discovering the challenges of implementing inquiry-based teaching through lesson study. Issues in Educational Research, 25(2), xx-xx. (In press, to appear at http://www.iier.org.au/iier25/gutierez.html)
Gutierez, S. B. (2014). Identifying and addressing the challenges of inquiry-based elementary science teaching and learning through lesson study. In Ulep, S. A., Ferido, M. B., Reyes, R. L., & Punzalan, A. E. (Eds.), Lesson Study: Learning Together, Growing More in Practice Together. (pp. 115- 146). Quezon City: University of the Philippines, National Institute for Science and Mathematics Development.
In mid-May 2013, a seminar-workshop on “Development of Inquiry-Based Science Activities” was conducted by the NISMED Elementary School Science Group for 15 Grade III science teachers from three schools in the Division of Taguig-Pateros (5 teachers per school). This was in response to results of a survey conducted the previous year in an elementary school in another division indicating that (1) teachers need more inquiry-based science activities they can use in class, and (2) they do not work with fellow teachers in preparing such activities/lessons; the common practice is to just use available ones in textbooks and other ready-made resources.
The seminar-workshop facilitators first allowed the participants to relate how they conducted science classes, then led them in reviewing different kinds of science activities, eliciting from the teachers what they thought were the inquiry features of each, before summarizing observed characteristic features of an inquiry-based activity. The participants also experienced for themselves a series of inquiry-based activities on a science topic where they took the role of pupils performing hands-on, minds-on, and hearts-on science activities. Just before the workshop proper, they compared the features they drew up with inputs on inquiry as culled from the literature on the inquiry approach to science teaching.
During the workshop, the teams of teachers worked collaboratively on a first quarter topic, The Sense Organs, with each school choosing one sense organ to focus on. The three choices were: The Sense of Sight (Eyes), The Sense of Smell (Nose), and The Sense of Touch (Skin). Each team presented its output consisting of at least two sequential activities to develop the skills and ideas/concepts involved. Their peers critiqued the activities each team developed followed by suggestions from their Education Program Supervisor, SEI staff, and finally NISMED staff. Revisions based on the feedback from the latter were made prior to submission.
The workshop ended with instructions for the teams to incorporate the activities they made into lessons they would implement twice by different teachers in different sections. Each implementation was observed by other members of the team, the principal, the Education Program Supervisor who attended the training, SEI staff, and NISMED staff. After each implementation, a post-lesson discussion was conducted during which the implementing teacher first reflected on the effectiveness of the lesson based on student responses and suggested changes that could be made. Then the feedback from the observers were elicited and revisions subsequently made on the lesson. The second lesson implementation and post-lesson discussion proceeded the same way, producing a lesson that has undergone tryouts with actual students.
The procedure followed is an adaptation of lesson study as practiced by the Japanese schoolteachers. The adaptation enables teachers to develop inquiry-based science activities collaboratively and improve on these for use in the future. It enables them to reflect on their own teaching and empowers them to direct student learning, honing the latter’s inquiry skills in the process.
The seminar-workshop and school implementation were sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology - Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) through Project HOTS (Hands-On Teaching and Learning of Science Through Inquiry).
The teachers shared their experiences in doing this adaptation of lesson study at the NISMED National Conference held on 22-24 October 2013. Their registration was also funded by SEI.
The participants pose for a group photo with DOST-SEI and NISMED staff
after the distribution of certificates at the close of the seminar-workshop.
In a related development, science and mathematics teachers in Commonwealth Elementary School in Quezon City attended a similar seminar-workshop on “Assessment and Collaborative Lesson Planning” at the end of May 2013. The adapted lesson study procedure was also followed with the participants from this school with the additional workshop on assessment inasmuch as assessment is considered part and parcel of instruction and learning. The mathematics teachers from this school have actually begun lesson study in previous years but this seminar-workshop revived their enthusiasm for resuming the collaborative lesson planning activity.
Lesson implementations and post-lesson discussions have been done in Grades 3 and 4 to date. Two mathematics teams and one science team from this school presented papers during the same NISMED National Conference in October 2013 based on their experiences in collaborative lesson planning and improvement of the research lesson they made. Teams for other grade levels are still due for lesson implementations until the end of SY 2013-2014. The seminar-workshop was sponsored by Marikina Shoe Exchange (MSE) including the registration of selected teachers at the conference. MSE is also committed to support lesson implementation until the end of the current school year.
The science participants brainstorm during the workshop
on inquiry-based science activities.
The Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) invited three UP NISMED staff, Dr. Amelia Punzalan, Dr. Erlina Ronda, and Ms. Arlene de la Cruz, as resource speakers on its 2nd year of training workshop on research enhancement. The training workshop was held on 4-6 September 2012 at Punta de Fabian, Baras, Rizal.
The participants were 27 faculty members of Teacher Training Institutes (TEIs) representing different regions of the country. These TEIs were identified by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) as Centers of Development.
From CHED Memorandum Order No. 33 Series of 2012, a Center of Development (COD) refers to a teacher education program in an HEI (Higher Education Institution), which demonstrates the potential to become a COE (Center of Excellence) in the future. A COE is defined as a teacher education program in an HEI, which continuously demonstrates excellent performance in the areas of instruction, research and publication, extension and linkages, institutional qualifications and one that provides excellent quality pre-service teacher education program to meet the needs of progressive teachers for elementary, secondary, and special education programs. The identified COEs and CODs are expected to serve as instruments in attaining and fulfilling the program’s mission of producing professionally competent and morally upright teacher education graduates.
Ms. de la Cruz started the session with De Bono’s six (6) thinking hats to set the tone of the workshop. Activities in the thinking hats were used as springboard for the participants’ research topics as well as in setting of goals for lesson study and other research projects.
Dr. Punzalan talked about teaching science through inquiry. She presented different ways to show how inquiry can be part of the participants’ researches in their classrooms and how it can be used as a teaching strategy.
Dr. Ronda talked about problem solving as strategy for teaching mathematics. She also used lesson study to further explain problem solving and showed a video on a mathematics lesson study implementation.
On the third day, the participants presented their research topics as well as their planned methodologies. Critiquing of the research topics was done after each presentation. The Central Bicol State University of Agriculture - College of Development Education from Region V, and Xavier University - Faculty of Education from Region XII planned to do research related to lesson study.
Guro Foundation Forum (GFF) organized a National Summer Training Workshop on Lesson Study in view of the K to 12 implementation across disciplines on 7-12 May 2012. It was held at the Bulwagang Tandang Sora, College of Social Work and Community Development, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City. There were 40 teacher-participants from Metro Manila and Luzon and four Filipino teachers from Lebanon. All grade levels were represented in the said workshop.
The objective of the training workshop was to engage educators in instructional planning, management, and implementation of K to 12 curriculum using lesson study.
Five NISMED staff were invited as resource speakers and facilitator. Dr. Soledad A. Ulep, UP NISMED Director, spoke on Lesson Study in View of the K to 12 Implementation. Dr. Amelia E. Punzalan and Ms. Arlene P. de la Cruz talked on Teaching Chemistry and Teaching-Learning Science Through Inquiry. Dr. Erlina R. Ronda talked about Teaching Mathematics Through Problem Solving, with Mr. Allan Canonigo as facilitator.
Lesson Study was done in four subjects, namely, English, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. Teachers had lesson planning, brainstorming, and critiquing of lessons. The lessons were based on the K to12 Curriculum.
[This article presents the challenges faced by practicing teachers in the course of developing lessons in Physics from the point of view of a member of the study group.]
“Ma’am, baka pwedeng bigyan n’yo na lang kami ng lesson plan at iexecute na lang namin?” (Ma’am, can you just give us a prepared lesson plan and then we will just execute it?) One teacher of our lesson study group in Physics asked during the initial planning of the lesson. What made the teacher to ask this question?
Lesson study is about planning together to develop, implement, and improve a research lesson. “Planning together” is not something new to teachers. They plan on activities in school such as Science Fairs and school foundation day celebration but “planning together to come up with a lesson” is something unusual to them. Teachers are used to prepare their own lesson plans and implement them as they see fit. In a school, where there may be five or more physics teachers, it is possible that these teachers differ in the way they teach the same topic. Hence, asking teachers to plan a lesson together faces a lot of challenges.
Finding time for planning the lesson was a challenge. In our lesson study group, the teachers had to meet around lunchtime to plan the lesson because they have classes in the afternoon. Requesting them to come at this time was sometimes inconvenient for them because they had personal matters to attend to. That was the reason why a teacher asked for a prepared lesson plan to execute instead of planning together to prepare a new one.
Finding the right activity for the lesson was a challenge. Teachers acknowledge that letting the students do an activity is a good practice. During the planning of the lesson, the teachers brought activities they used in the previous school year. As they presented the activities, they were asked some questions: 1) Will the activities help your students to discover the concept/s you want them to know? 2) Will the students be able to discover the concept on their own? 3) What skills will be developed through the activity? 4) Do you have the materials (or enough materials) needed for the activity? These questions were asked for teachers to realize that it was not enough that students perform an activity for the sake of doing an activity. Teachers had to evaluate the activity they were using. If the activity does not meet the objectives of the lesson, they have to select a more appropriate one or make some revisions. Moreover, the teachers were asked to tryout the activity. There were situations during the planning that they had to replace the activity or some materials because the activity or material itself was not working. As a result, it took several meetings just to come up with an activity. Thus, teachers would say, “Hindi pala ganito kadali gumawa ng activity (It is not so easy to come up with an activity).”
Finding the appropriate strategy for a lesson was a challenge. The usual sequence followed by the teacher in teaching a science lesson is as follows: motivation, presentation of the concept (including equation), performing the activity (if there is an activity), guided solving of a sample problem, individual or group problem solving, assessment, and homework. However, the formulated goal for the lesson study was “To develop and nurture self-directed learners who have enduring understanding of science concepts that can be applied in real-life situations.” Their usual way of teaching would not work to attain this goal because if the teachers would simply give the concepts and equations, then the students would become passive learners. Thus, there is a need for the teacher to shift from being the source of information to a facilitator of learning. They should guide their students to discover the concepts on their own. To do this, the teachers have to think of the questions they would ask to elicit thinking among the students as well as the possible answers the students might give. Writing these in their lesson plan would allow the teachers to anticipate different scenarios that might happen during the class discussion. Planning the lesson this way involves detailed and focused discussion and by itself a challenge to a teacher who is used to deciding by herself or himself on how to go about the lesson.
Indeed, planning together is not that easy. Yes, it takes time to plan, choose an activity, and find an appropriate teaching strategy. But to see the students enjoying the activity, asking questions, and participating in class discussions are enough rewards for the challenges faced. Going back to the teacher who asked for a prepared lesson plan to execute, she no longer asked this question in the succeeding cycles of planning. She became more participative in the discussions and even implemented two lessons made by the study group. Clearly, by embracing the challenges of doing a lesson study paved the way for her professional development. The experience with lesson study embodies this quote by Henry Ford: “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
The High School Department of St. Scholastica’s College invited Ms. Arlene de la Cruz of UP NISMED to give an overview of lesson study on July 20, 2012. This was attended by nine (9) subject coordinators, the principal and the assistant principal. The subjects covered were Communication Arts (English), Science and Technology, Mathematics, Communication Arts (Filipino), Christian Living, Social Studies, Physical Education, Health and Music, and Technology and Livelihood Education. Apart from the presentation on lesson study, a video of the process was also shown. The coordinators commented that they were delighted to know lesson study as a way of improving the achievement of their students and a strategy for teacher’s professional development.
Seated: Ms Arlene P. de la Cruz and Sr. M. Rosalina Rosas Fajardo, OSB, Principal Standing fourth from the left: Mrs. Ma. Lourdes N. Cura, Assistant Principal
On 11 January 2013, Ms. de la Cruz was again invited to give a seminar-workshop on lesson study to the teachers of the high school department of St. Scholastica’s College. There were about 25 teachers from different subject areas. They had lesson planning, brainstorming, and critiquing of lessons focused on Grade 7 which included the subjects English, Science, Mathematics, Geography, Filipino, and Christian Living. A teacher for each subject taught the lesson that they planned collaboratively. Critiquing of the lesson presented by each teacher was done. Revisions on the lesson plan were done at the end after each teacher demonstration.
According to the teacher participants, it was their first time to experience how to critique lesson plans. They said that they learned a lot during the planning and critiquing of lessons. They were able to come up with lesson plans which they can use later. At the end of the seminar-workshop they decided that they will implement lesson study in the coming school year 2013-2014 for at least one quarter.
The first attempt was at Bagong Kinabukasan Elementary School (BKES, not its real name) as an initial activity under NISMED’s School Partnership Project (SPP) which was formally launched in November 2006 (UP NISMED unpublished report, 2008).
This bogged down after two planning sessions per grade level (Grades 3 to 6); no revised lesson plans were produced and no lesson implementations were observed. No observations of implementation were likewise carried out.
Another attempt was made in the same school in August 2008. This second phase targeted improvement of existing lesson plans by collaborative teams consisting of NISMED staff and BKES teachers. The BKES teachers readily submitted existing lesson plans for “editing” but the teams were unable to sit together to critique the plans and suggest improvements. NISMED staff were also invited to observe a “demo teaching” by a teacher and participate in the post-conference after the demo teaching. However, no revised lesson plan incorporating the comments during the post-conference was produced. (NISMED unpublished report, 2011).
These two attempts are recounted and analyzed in this chapter. The challenges and constraints to collaborative lesson research and development among elementary science teachers are pointed out and recommendations for future attempts are given.
by Risa L. Reyes (firstname.lastname@example.org )
Three Years of Lesson Study in Full Swing: Ligao National High School Science and Mathematics Departments
Two NISMED staff were invited for a 2-day visit cum mentoring for the science teachers of Ligao National High School (LNHS) in connection with the school’s implementation of lesson study on 15 – 16 January 2013. This is part of the 4-day seminar workshop on lesson study requested earlier by the Principal of Ligao National High School, Ms. Carmelita Sinson which was held at NISMED on 18 – 21 August 2012 for 16 science teachers. NISMED Director, Dr. Soledad Ulep and other science staff conducted this seminar-workshop. Ms. Sinson has also attended a similar 4-day seminar workshop together with 21 LNHS mathematics teachers in 2011. The NISMED mathematics staff has conducted follow-up visits cum mentoring for the mathematics teachers in 2012-2013 during lesson study implementation. According to the teachers, lesson study has helped them to collaboratively prepare lessons and increase learning gains for both themselves and students. The principal also commented that the lesson study that they are doing every quarter has fostered collaboration among the science and mathematics teachers. Lesson study has helped build such a culture among the teachers—one of her dreams for the school, Mrs. Sinson added.
|The teacher-observers and knowledgeable others discussing a research |
lesson prepared by the science teacher for implementation.
LNHS Science teachers and the DepEd Ligao City Division Science Supervisor Ms. Tita V. Agir (1st from left) during the post-lesson discussion and reflection session on 15 January 2013.