A framework for analyzing the quality of mathematics lessons

There are only few studies on teachers’ professional development that involves providing teachers with a research-based lens through which they can analyze and think about their lessons. In this paper.

UP NISMED’s Lesson Study Program honored at the 2019 Gawad Tsanselor

UP NISMED’s Lesson Study Program honored at the 2019 Gawad Tsanselor The Lesson Study Program of the University of the Philippines National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development (UP NISMED) was honored as one of UP Diliman’s Natatanging Programang Pang-ekstensyon...

World Association of Lesson Studies (WALS) International Conference 2017

NISMED staff as well as teachers from partner schools presented papers at the World Association of Lesson Studies (WALS) International Conference 2017 held at Nagoya University, Japan on 24-17 November 2017.

PALS Inaugurated

The Philippine Association of Lesson and Learning Studies (PALS) Inc. was inaugurated on 10 December 2016 at the Pearl of the Orient Tower in Manila.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

UP NISMED’s Lesson Study Program honored at the 2019 Gawad Tsanselor

UP NISMED’s Lesson Study Program honored at the 2019 Gawad Tsanselor The Lesson Study Program of the University of the Philippines National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development (UP NISMED) was honored as one of UP Diliman’s Natatanging Programang Pang-ekstensyon at the 2019 Gawad Tsanselor held on 21 June 2019 in the Institute of Biology Auditorium. The award is given to extension programs that rendered “exemplary service to the public in the form of technical assistance, extramural program, advocacy, and community mobilization, among others” (UPD Information Office, June 2019).

UP NISMED introduced Lesson Study in the country in 2003 and officially launched it in 2006. Through the years, the teacher-led and school-based professional development program has involved over 500 teachers from more than 50 schools and universities all over the country. In lesson study, teachers are involved actively in designing instruction and in developing curriculum materials. A key consideration in lesson study is collaboration. Teachers work collaboratively in planning, developing, implementing, and revising a research lesson based on a long-term goal. Dr. Aida I. Yap, Director of

UP NISMED, along with Dr. Soledad A. Ulep, former Director, and Dr. Erlina R. Ronda, Deputy Director for Research and Extension, accepted the award on behalf of UP NISMED.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

A framework for analyzing the quality of mathematics lessons

There are only few studies on teachers’ professional development that involves providing teachers with a research-based lens through which they can analyze and think about their lessons. In this paper, I present a framework, adapted from research, for analyzing the quality of mathematics lessons and illustrate its use by teachers for assessing a lesson. The teachers’ version of the research-based framework I propose here aim to add to this repertoire of tools for this kind of work. The development of this framework is part of a larger research project that involves developing of a research-informed lesson study model for mathematics teachers in Philippines. The project is in its initial stages and its first focus is the research lesson. In lesson study, the research lesson is the shared space and the object under investigation of the teachers. It is considered the critical mediator of professional learning hence the importance of having a practical but theory-based framework to serve as lens to teachers in analyzing the research lesson particularly the quality of the mathematics lesson.

Dr. Ronda presenting the MDI framework at the WALS Conference 2018

In the study, quality of mathematics lesson is defined in the study in terms of two interrelated components: the quality of the mathematics and the quality of mathematics instruction. The word quality refers to an attribute of something (x) or a standard of x. A framework for analyzing quality mathematics lesson should therefore capture both sense. There are a number of frameworks in the field that have been used in analyzing mathematics lessons (Charalambous & Praetorius, 2018) but the framework that responds to our notion of quality mathematics lesson and at the same time aligns with the sociocultural perspective of the study is the mathematical discourse in instruction (MDI) framework (Adler & Ronda, 2015). The MDI framework consist of five interacting cultural tools of instruction namely task, examples, naming, legitimations and learner participation that together mediates the object of learning of the lesson.

Our description of quality of mathematics in the study is a function of a view of mathematics as a form of scientific knowledge (Vygotsky, 1978) which is characterized by its generality, structure, consistency and symbolic systems. The study focuses particularly to its generality attribute. This is to foreground to teachers that generality or generalizing is an important goal and means to understand mathematics. Opportunities to generalize are visible in the selection and sequencing of examples, in the problematic in the tasks, in the choice of words to refer to the mathematical aspects in the instructional talk, and the extent to which claims are substantiated mathematically. On the other hand, attributes of quality of mathematics instruction include learners’ participation, coherence of the lesson and explicit connections. Indicators of standard for each of these attributes were developed building from those in the MDI framework. In the presentation, I will discuss the framework with more detail and exemplify its use. Preliminary analysis showed aspects of mathematics and aspects of its instruction that were foregrounded including those not captured by the framework.

References Adler, J., & Ronda, E. (2015). A framework for describing mathematics discourse in instruction and interpreting differences in teaching. African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 19(3), 237-254. doi:10.1080/10288457.2015.1089677

Charalambous, C. Y., & Praetorius, A.-K. (2018). Studying mathematics instruction through different lenses: setting the ground for understanding instructional quality more comprehensively. ZDM, 1-12.

Keywords: Professional Development, Mathematics Instruction, Analytic Framework, Lesson Study Model, Research lesson

This paper was presented at the World Association of Lesson Studies International Conference 2018 at Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China on 23-26 November 2018.


Friday, January 25, 2019

Use and misuse of technology in teaching science: Issues on teachers’ epistemology and ICT integration in the teaching-learning process

by Rolando Tan

While the ubiquity of the World Wide Web continues to pervade society, digital content also increases paving the way for the information superhighway as a platform for educational experiences for everyone having online access (Myers, 2011). Even if the student-centered learning environment offered by ICT runs counter to the position of traditional teachers who demand a high degree of interaction with their learners, the role of digital technology will continue to develop and grow in this century (Oliver, 2003; Mura and Diamantini, 2014). It cannot be denied that such growth can be due to the fact that these “technologies extend into everyday life of people” (Kubiatko and Halakova, 2009 p. 743). Therefore, “the integration of technology in the classroom is viewed as an important strategy to increase the effectiveness of the teaching-learning process.” (Mirzajani, Mahmud, Ayub and Wong, 2014, p. 26)

Recent studies have shown that the use of ICT has produced positive results in the educational process. There have been reports that use of interactive CD-ROM, graphing software, and Power Point presentations was able to foster conceptual understanding among students (Kubiatko and Halakova, 2009). Peat and Taylor (2005) state that “ICT provides greater educational flexibility by creating learning environments that are accessible to individuals with a variety of learning styles at anytime and anyplace.” (p. 21). Based on the studies done by Pernaa and Aksela (2009), the use of ICT does not only arouse student interest but also improves research skills.

While positive reviews from the use of ICT are valid reasons for its integration in the educational landscape a lot of challenges have to be addressed in order to fully appreciate the benefits of its use in the teaching-learning process. A study on teachers’ perception on the use of ICT has shown that teachers felt a need to be trained on the didactic use of ICT (Mura and Diamantini, 2014; Mirzajani, Mahmud, Ayub and Wong, 2014). Among the impediments cited are “educator stress, limited teachers experience with ICT and opportunities for continuing teacher education and professional development, lack of technological tools in schools, lack of knowledge about the actual benefits of ICT in educational situations, limited opportunity for a regular use of technology and teachers’ limited skills and lack of confidence regarding the use of ICT” (Mirzajani, Mahmud, Ayub and Wong, 2014, p. 27)

On the other hand, Mishra and Koehler (2005), stated that “introducing technology to the educational process is not enough to ensure technology integration since technology alone does not lead to change.” (p. 132) and that “good teaching is not simply adding technology to the existing teaching and content domain.” (p. 134). Historical accounts of technology integration were about development of “product technologies” like computers and educational television or films that support the transmissive models of teaching---students as receptacles of knowledge to be filled up. Furthermore, studies showed that teachers’ use of technology in teaching is aligned to their own personal theories about their pedagogy (Salleh, 2015). When a science teacher thinks that scientific knowledge is just a body of information that needs to be transmitted to her pupils without any regard to their preconceived ideas about the natural world, she could possibly use technology that will support her pedagogical approach and therefore runs counter to the inquiry-based, constructivist strategy that fosters deeper understanding of science concepts.

Hence technology, when used in science education, can only be effective if it is aligned to the appropriate pedagogical underpinnings of inquiry and constructivism. Mishra and Koehler therefore extended Shulman’s Pedagogical Content Knowledge to acknowledge the relevance of technological knowledge with pedagogy and content and came up with a new framework called Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge or TPACK. Incorporating knowledge of content, pedagogy with technological knowledge, TPACK is “the basis of effective teaching with technology, requiring an understanding of the representation of concepts using technologies; pedagogical techniques that use technologies in constructive ways to teach content; knowledge of what makes concepts difficult or easy to learn and how technology can help redress some of the problems that students face; knowledge of students’ prior knowledge and theories of epistemology; and knowledge of how technologies can be used to build on existing knowledge to develop new epistemologies or strengthen old ones.” (Koehler and Mishra, 2009, p. 66). In other words, what matters is not just the use of technology, but rather the effective use of technology in teaching the content.

The importance on the effective use of technology became an important issue in this lesson study that involved the use of ICT facilities in teaching an elementary school science concept for Grade 3. A group of Grade 3 teachers intended to plan a research lesson on how the human ear works. Prior to the planning stage, they first attended a seminar-workshop on inquiry-based teaching where features of inquiry were modeled instead of lecturing its conceptual framework. Seminar workshop concluded with a research lesson as the final output of the workshop. The lesson implementation of the program formed part of the second phase as the research lesson they planned during the workshop will be tested through an actual lesson implementation in their respective schools. Staff from NISMED observed the lesson implementation of the drafted research lesson plan.

The research lesson focused on the sense of hearing as part of the first quarter lessons on the senses. The aim of their research lesson was to make the pupils describe the function of the different parts of the ear. An animated video showing how the different parts of the ear work when a person is listening to an object producing a sound was shown as the first part of the activity.

Figure 1
Pupils watched the animated video about how the ear works. The questions pupils answered were listed below as part of the activity sheet:

What can loud sound do to our ear? _______________________ 
How is the pinna shaped? ______________________________ 
How do we call the hole in the outer ear? ___________________ 
How does the eardrum look like? _________________________ 
What happened as soon as sound waves hit the eardrum? __________ 
How do the three tiny bones react when eardrum vibrates? __________
On which part does the mechanical movement of the ear occur? ________
Name the three main parts of the ear __________________________ 

Post training report showed teacher’s reflection as well as the inputs of NISMED staff (DOST-SEI & UPNISMED, 2013) regarding the first implementation of the research lesson:
  • One of the teachers who observed the class felt that the video should have been in the latter part of the discussion and that the second activity using the ear model should be tackled first. She reasoned that the ear model provides a more concrete way of understanding of how the ear works as she believes that teaching should begin first from concrete to abstract. NISMED staff as well as school officials also agreed on the suggestion of this teacher.
  • One of the NISMED staff observed that the use of the model generated a response different from what the model intended to generate. It was explained to the teachers that when the box was hit the air was expelled from the hole and exerted a force on the plastic sheet making the table tennis ball move. Hence, when asked about what made the table tennis ball move, the students, in being honest to what they observed, answered “air”. It was made clear to the teachers that the hole should not have been there to avoid creating movement by air pressure.
  • NISMED staff also pointed out that the use of video defeats the purpose of discovery because the video already presented everything and the children would just have to listen to everything the video shows. It was pointed out that the activity should be personally experienced by the students to make it more inquiry-based. Regarding the unruly behavior of students in an activity, it was suggested that the ear model activity can be videotaped instead and the students could be asked to observe it carefully or the teacher herself can conduct a demonstration to make all the students get a more or less uniform observation. It was also suggested that the video can only be used in the latter part where sound travels already through the three tiny bones to the cochlea and transmit the message to the brain via the auditory nerve. 
The changes agreed upon for the second implementation of the research lesson plan were incorporated in the revised research lesson plan. The sequence of the activity was changed: it started with an examination of the classmates’ ear to describe the anatomy of the external ear. The hands-on activity on how the eardrum receives the sound waves using a manipulative model was carried out so that the pupils will be able to see how the eardrum functions when it receives the sound. The video was then finally shown so that the inner ear and their function can be understood by the pupils after the sound reached the eardrum and the ossicles represented in the model.

Post lesson discussion taken from the post training reports revealed interesting feedback from the lesson study group (DOST-SEI & UPNISMED, 2013).
  • NISMED staff saw an improvement in the second implementation of the lesson as there was a change in the sequence of the activity agreed upon during the first post lesson conference two weeks before. The questions possess inquiry features. Responses from the students became more authentic especially when the student candidly remarked “nanginginig” to describe the movement of the table tennis ball in the ear model. Furthermore the students were now able to infer that it is the sound that causes the movement of the plastic sheet and the table tennis ball because of the modifications the teachers did in the box in order to prevent air from gushing out that could make the plastic sheet and table tennis ball move instead of by sound waves.  
  • During the PLD, the teacher who first implemented the lesson said she preferred the version she implemented because the revised research lesson is too difficult; teachers would not be able to elicit the students’ responses that will lead to the science idea intended for the students to learn. When she was asked why she thought the showing of the video should come first, she stated that children do not have the needed information in their minds. In her own words she said in the vernacular, “Mas mabuti kung may video kasi kahit papaano may alam na agad sila” (It would be better that there is a video so that somehow they will have some knowledge right away). 
  • The guest principal from Maharlika Elementary School expressed her disagreement with the opinion of the first implementing teacher since these children have actively thinking minds and the activity elicits what goes in the minds of the students. According to her, this is important because thinking skills or science process skills are supposed to be assessed on the inquiry-based approach to teaching science. 
  • NISMED staff also affirmed the guest principal’s epistemological point of view when it comes to inquiry-based instruction. The teacher who implemented the research lesson first was told that there can be two views on how a teacher sees her students: either as empty vessels that need to be filled with information or as actively thinking minds capable of constructing their own ideas and schema. She was told that a teacher who thinks that children are just empty vessels to be filled with information will resort to that kind of approach where information is directly given to them with no need of processing while a teacher who believes that children actively construct their ideas would resort to an inquiry type of approach. 
Despite the positive reviews, the teacher in the first implementation still preferred the first version of the research lesson, citing the difficulty of making the pupils elicit the correct response during the second implementation. When she was asked why she still preferred the use of the video first instead of the eardrum model, she stressed that pupils would already have a ready answer when the teacher asks them the questions. This is commonly observed on teachers who perceive children’s minds as “tabula rasa”(empty slate) instead of considering children’s minds as having non-traditional ideas regarding the natural world (Wenning, 2008). In relation to this, Yero (2012) explained teachers’ view pervading pedagogical practice and beliefs:

“One of the most pervasive beliefs in mainstream education is that knowledge is objective (it exists in some pure form outside the mind) and that the task of education is to transmit the "essential" portions of that knowledge to students. These bits of meat picked from the rich stew of human thought are found in curriculum and standards documents. They have become separated from the thought processes that generated them and from the contexts in which they were shaped. In essence, they are now perceived as "collectibles", rare antiques that must not be altered in any way lest they become less valuable. “Until educators confront that belief, the wealth of scientific evidence that knowledge is internally-generated and that "transmission" of knowledge objects is ineffective will receive no more than lip-service. Teachers may cognitively accept the research, but it will not significantly affect their practice. Piaget's theory of internally-generated knowledge was received with great enthusiasm by many educators. What they failed to recognize was that the belief underlying the theory was diametrically opposed to the belief that knowledge exists "out there." Attempting to apply Piaget's ideas without also adopting his belief system, teachers would first "give" students the "facts" and then assign a prespecified activity in which the students were supposed to "mess about" with those facts. Where was the student given the opportunity to "internally generate" anything?” (para. 7-8)

Mishra and Koehler (2005) point out that mere addition of technology in the instructional practice cannot induce change and pedagogical reforms. The post lesson discussions in this particular lesson study affirm their stand. This lesson study, further reveals how important teachers’ pervasive beliefs about children’s minds are when technology is integrated in science education. While studies have shown that the use of ICT in education helps promote student interest (Passey, Rogers, Machell & McHugh, 2004), student interest is not a guarantee that inquiry-based instruction is promoted inside the classroom (BSCS, 2005). It is therefore a challenging role for the Knowledgeable Other (KO) to explain to the lesson study group that features of inquiry must be promoted when using technology instead of technology becoming a tool for transmissive approaches to learning.


Biological Sciences Curriculum Study. (2005). Doing Science: The Process of Scientific Inquiry. Colorado: BSCS.

Department of Science and Technology – Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) & University of the Philippines National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development (UP NISMED) (2013), “Report of follow-through phase 2 of the DOST-SEI project hands on teaching and learning of science through inquiry (HOTS)”, unpublished manuscript, Department of Science and Technology – Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) & University of the Philippines National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development (UP NISMED), Quezon City. 

Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge? Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1), 60-70. Retrieved from http://www.citejournal.org/vol9/iss1/general/ article1.cfm.

Kubiatko, M. & Halakova, Z. ( 2009). Slovak high school students’ attitudes to ICT using in biology lesson. Computers in Human Behavior, 25, 743-748. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2009.02.002

Mirzajani, H., Mahmud, R., Ayub, A.F.M., & Wong S.L. (2014). Teacher’s acceptance of ICT and its integration in the classroom. Quality Assurance in Education, 24 (1), 26-40, doi: 10.1108/QAE-06-2014-0025

Mishra P. & Koehler M.J. (2005). What happens when teachers design Educational technology? The development of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 32(2), 131-152.

Mura, G. & Diamantini D. (2014). The use and perception of ICT among educators: The Italian case. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 141, 1228-1233. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.05.211

Myers, C.B. (2011, May 14). How the internet has revolutionized education. TNW News. Retrieved from http://thenextweb.com/insider/2011/05/14/ how-the-internet-is- revolutionizing-education/ 

Oliver, R. (2003). The role of ICT in higher education in the 21st century: ICT as a change agent for education. Paper presented at the Higher education for the 21st century conference, Curtin. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228920282_The_role_of_ICT_in_higher_education_for_the_21st_century_ICT_as_a_change_agent_for_education

Passey, D., Rogers, C., Machell, J., & McHugh, G.(2004). The Motivational Effect of ICT on Students. DfES Publications: Nottingham.

Peat, M. & Taylor, C. (2005, June). Virtual biology: how well can it replace Authentic activities? International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education, 13 (1), 21-24. Retrieved from: http://openjournals.library.usyd.edu.au/index.php/CAL/article/view/ 6044/6695

Pernaa, J. & Aksela, M. (2009). Chemistry teachers’ and students’ perceptions of practical work through different ICT learning envirionments. Problems of Education in the 21ist century, 16, 80-88. Retrieved from http://www.scientiasocialis.lt/pec/files/pdf/vol16/80-88.Pernaa_ Vol.16.pdf

Salleh, S. (2015). Examining the influence of teachers’ beliefs towards technology integration in classroom. The international journal of information and learning technology, 33 (1), 17-35. doi: 10.1108/IJILT-10-2015-0032.

Wenning, C. J. (2008). Dealing more effectively with alternative conceptions in science. Journal of Physics Teacher Education Online, 5(1), 11-19. Retrieved from: http://www2.phy.ilstu.edu/pte/publications/dealing_alt _con.pdf

Yero, J. L. (2012). How teacher thinking shapes education. Retrieved from http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/Transforming%20Education/Articles/How%20Teacher%20Thinking%20Shapes%20Education/index.html

Monday, January 21, 2019


by Aida I. Yap 

This paper reports the results of the implementation of a research lesson developed by a group of Grade 1 teachers. The teachers participated in a professional development program on lesson study that aims to enable teachers to collaboratively engage in innovative teaching practices and document this in terms of teaching and learning materials. The program was divided into two phases. Phase I was a four-day seminar-workshop on lesson study. Participants from the same school collaboratively developed a research lesson. Phase II was the school-based implementation of two research lessons.

The first research lesson, which was developed by the teachers in Phase I, was implemented three months after the seminar-workshop while the second one was implemented three months after the first visit. Only the results of the implementation of the first research lesson are presented here. The first research lesson was on basic shapes. The objectives of the lesson were: (1) to identify, name, and describe the four basic shapes in 2- and 3-dimensional objects, and (2) to compare and identify 2-dimensional shapes according to common attributes. The lesson was implemented thrice. After each implementation, a post-lesson reflection and discussion was conducted to reflect and share observations on what happened during the implementation. Suggestions for improvement were incorporated into a revised research lesson, which was implemented the very next day.

Results reveal significant changes in the behaviors and teaching practices of the teachers and in the ability of the students to describe the basic shapes in their own words. In the first two implementations, the teachers wrote the description of each shape in words on the board and asked the pupils to read. This did not result to more participative students and the learning of the concept. The teachers decided to implement the research lesson for the third time. They want to know what will happen if they change the presentation of the description of each shape by using a table. This revision worked well with the students, as they were able to describe each shape in their own words and see the similarities and differences of the shapes by just looking at the data presented in the table. As a consequence, the students enjoyed doing the group activity and were eager to present their output. The teachers realized that they have to be flexible to affect student learning and to foster communication of students’ ideas.


Inprasitha, M., et al. (Eds.). (2015). Lesson Study: Challenges in mathematics education. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd.

Isoda, M., & Katagiri, S. (2012). Mathematical Thinking: How to develop it in the classroom. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd.

The paper was presented at the 8th ICMI-East Asia Regional Conference on Mathematics Education held at Taiwan International Convention Center, Taipei, Taiwan on 7-11 May 2018.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Using models as part of the instructional process: What teachers need to know

 Rolando M. Tan

Using three-dimensional models in teaching has become part of the instructional practices of science teachers. Using models in teaching has shown marked improvements in students’ understanding especially of complex subject matters in science (Mclaurin, Halverson and Boyce, 2014). Models, which serve as a representation of the abstract concepts, help students construct ideas (Krontiris-Litowitz, 2003; Orgill and Thomas, 2006). Glynn (1991) states that using models that facilitate analogical reasoning is an effective way to foster understanding by relating their existing knowledge with text knowledge. This is an important consideration because effective analogies do not only motivate students but also help them clarify their thinking and avoid misconceptions (Orgill and Thomas, 2006). Moreover, analogies also “enhance student learning through a constructivist pathway” (Harrison and Treagust, 1993, p. 1292). If the research lesson would use such physical manipulatives or any other instructional models as part of the instructional process, lesson study practitioners and the so-called knowledgeable other must bear in mind the theoretical foundations of using teaching materials that foster analogical reasoning.
So what makes a model an effective teaching material to foster analogical reasoning? Gentner (1998) enumerates the processes in analogical reasoning: (1)retrieval – an individual tries to recover a previous analogous example from long term memory (2) mapping – examining the commonalities from two working memories and making inferences from one working memory to another (3) evaluation - where the inferences and their analogies are assessed and (4) abstraction – examining the common structure between two analogies. Gentner, focuses more on mapping as he proposes the Structure mapping theory for analogy. In structure-mapping theory, analogy is “a  mapping of knowledge from one domain (base) to another (target) which conveys that a system of relations known to hold in the base also holds in the target.”(Falkenhainer, Forbus, Gentner, 1989, p. 2).

Gentner (1983) stressed that mapping commonalities between the target domain (the object to be compared) and the base domain (the object which the target is compared to) would involve two aspects: object attributes and relational predicates. For example when the atom is compared to a solar system, the atom is the target domain while the solar system is the base domain.

Object attributes are the physical features that can be visibly seen on the base and on the target while relational predicates pertain to the interaction of the objects in a domain.  Structure-mapping theory  states that when several overlaps are found in the object attributes and in relational predicates between the target and the base, literal similarity is attained and if overlaps are strongly seen on relational predicates, analogy therefore has been achieved (Gentner, 1983). One example of an analogy is the lung chest model which was constructed using simple household materials such as  plastic bottle, plastic sheet, small plastic bags and flexed straws. Looking closely, overlaps between the object attributes of the model and the human respiratory system are very weak but in terms of relational predicates a strong overlap can be observed. When the plastic sheet goes down the small plastic bags inside the plastic bottle inflate. This  indicates that air rushes inside these plastic bags. In the human respiratory system the diaphragm situated below the lungs also demonstrates a downward movement when it contracts causing the lungs to inflate.  If this model would have object attributes almost similar to the anatomical structure of the human respiratory system, literal similarity would have been attained.

The use of analogical models in the teaching learning process has become a pertinent issue when teachers collaboratively develop research lessons involving three dimensional models as a teaching tool. A lesson study group composed of Grade 5 teachers intended to use a three dimensional model to teach a science concept by analogy. The lesson study group intended to use a hard-boiled egg as their model to represent the interior of the Sun. In light of Gentner’s structure-mapping theory - the hard-boiled egg which serves as an analogical model of the interior of the Sun has been found to be problematic. Object attributes between the target and the base domain do not have several overlaps. If the yolk would correspond to the central core, what will be the counterpart of the Sun’s radiative zone and the convective zone? The egg shell itself may not have a counterpart with the Sun as the Sun’s surface does not have a covering that can correspond to the egg shell. The softness of the yolk and egg white does not have any similarity with the Sun’s interior as the Sun is made up of hot gases. Another consideration is the shape of the egg as the Sun is nearly spherical in shape.   With regards to relational predicates, there is totally no relational overlap observable between the Sun and the hard-boiled egg. The hard-boiled egg’s interior cannot be made to give heat and light as how the core and radiative zones  produce heat and light. When few or no relational overlaps are observed between the target and the base, what can be attained is an anomaly instead (Gentner, 1983).

A snapshot of the research lesson to be implemented is shown below:

Prepared Questions on the Research Lesson 

From the part titled Analysis and Discussion, the teacher tried to narrow down on the fact that the cross–section of a hard-boiled egg has similarities with the Sun which is more prescriptive rather than constructivist in approach. What the implementing teacher failed to see is that the hard-boiled egg cannot be used as an analogical model to make them infer the interior parts of the Sun.

After the first lesson implementation data from the post lesson discussion revealed interesting results from two NISMED staff. NISMED staff 1 gave a firsthand account on some critical areas seen during the lesson implementation while NISMED staff 2 focused more on the shared ideas and comments of the implementing teacher, his co-teachers as well as the general impressions about the implementation.

From NISMED staff 1:

A preliminary activity aimed at unlocking the terms “inner” and “outer” was done.
The Teacher started with eliciting prior knowledge by asking them to draw the inner parts of the sun but he actually just said draw the sun instead of saying draw the inner parts of the Sun.

He conducted another activity by asking the students to draw the cross section of a hardboiled egg and then made them compare the egg and the Sun. The egg model elicited responses that are not related to the parts of the Sun. One student even mentioned the presence of Salmonella in eggs.

When he asked if there is any difference between the sun and the egg most of the students were silent as they do not seem to know how to answer the question. The hard-boiled egg failed to represent fully the interior parts of the Sun as the Sun’s radiative and convective zone have no counterparts that can be found in the hard-boiled egg.

Students were asked to put together the puzzle pieces to show the parts of the Sun. Afterwards, a reading activity about the parts of the Sun was given to the students. They were asked to label the parts of the Sun. The teacher, however, did not give time for the students to label properly the parts of the Sun as the teacher already named one of the parts. 

During the group activity, only a few students were actually engaged in the task assigned to them. 

From NISMED staff 2:
·         After Mr.  ________shared his observations about the activity and his implementation:
o     He found that the activity was time consuming despite giving a time limit for the task;
o     He liked the activity because it gave the students opportunity to relate their previous lessons (from the earlier grades) to the current lesson, and allowed them to observe something concrete (egg model) to anchor the development of their ideas on the current lesson; and
o     He expressed that the objectives he set for the lesson were met to a certain extent since they were not able to finish the lesson.
·         The impressions and observations of the rest of the team (co-teachers and NISMED staff 1) were similar to his observations with regard to the length of time spent in doing all the activities. Several suggestions were cited by different members of the group to address this (see the decisions in the next section). The discussion on time management has implications on the number of tasks for the students and the choice of which tasks to retain in the revised lesson plan.
·         Other aspects of the lesson and lesson plan that were brought to light were:
o   Use of the egg as a model of the Sun – Since the responses of the students showed that they could not easily connect the egg model to the parts of the Sun (only one group made an effort/attempt to make the connection) and was limited to inner and outer parts only;
o   Extent of participation of the members in the group -Only two to three  members were really engaged in the activity due to the big size of the group (10 members ); and
o   Assessment/Quiz – The group was advised by the NISMED staff to review the items based on the revisions that will be made on the lesson plan.

Instead of inferring the parts of the Sun from the egg model, students started to describe the egg as one pupil even mentioned the presence of Salmonella that can also be found in eggs.  The teacher had not realized his role as a facilitator of learning when he immediately named one of the parts of the Sun’s interior. By the teacher’s behavior and the students’ responses, the egg model was not really instrumental in making the students infer the parts of the Sun from the cross section of the egg since the reading activity was the only source that could make the students understand more about the parts of the Sun’s interior.    

NISMED staff gave the following recommendations:

·         Sir ____ will finish the lesson on the following day with the same section (including the quiz), but will no longer be observed by the NISMED staff.

·         Retain the preliminary activity using the pictures of the inner and outer parts of the house for the unlocking of the terms, but only for the low-ability sections. For the high-ability sections, this can be omitted or asked directly to the pupils (What do you think is the meaning of inner/outer?).

·         For the main focus question, stress the interior parts but rephrase it “What do you think is inside the Sun?/What do you think are the inner parts of the Sun?”. The teacher is encouraged to ask this in Filipino especially in the lower-ability sections.

·         To save time, the egg model and the puzzle will be removed. The activities that will be retained are the drawing of the Sun to answer the question, “What do you think is inside the Sun/What do you think are the inner parts of the Sun?” and to elicit prior knowledge. This task will be done individually and drawn in their notebook. Second, the article will be retained, but instead of a group activity, it will be done in pairs (think-pair-share). Moreover, the next task involving the article is for the students to draw and label the parts of the Sun based on what they understood or learned from reading the article.
·         For the presentation of output/drawings, the teacher will tell the students to post their drawings on the board. The teacher will also give them time to view the other pairs’ work and then call volunteers to group similar drawings together. He will then ask for volunteers who will describe their drawings further using their own words.
·         After the selected pairs have presented, this is the time that the teacher shows the image of the Sun (showing the interior parts) with proper labels (labels should be bigger). This time, the teacher will tell the class (pairs) to compare their drawings with the illustration of the Sun that the teacher posted. The students can evaluate for themselves (no need to score) on how close their drawings are to the illustration.
·         Review the assessment items if the tasks and skills required are aligned with the tasks and skills of the revised lesson plan. Include a diagram of the Sun and its parts in the assessment task since the revised lesson will have more visuals.
·         The second implementation will be done by Ms. ______.

For the lesson study practitioner and knowledgeable others who serve as consultants to the lesson study group, it is important to bear in mind the conceptual framework for using models as tools for analogical reasoning. Every time a manipulative model or any three-dimensional model is being used to teach a science concept, the knowledgeable others must be able to analyze the object attributes and relational predicates that overlap between the target and base domain. This is important because “uncritical use of analogies may generate misconceptions and this is especially so when unshared attributes are treated as valid.” (Harrison and Treagust, 1993 p. 1292).       


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Algorithm and Examples. Artificial Intelligence, 41, 1-63. Retrieved from

Gentner,  D. (1983). Structure mapping: A theoretical framework for analogy. Cognitive
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Glynn S.H. (1991). Explaining Science Concepts: A Teaching-with-analogies model. In
S.M. Glynn, R.H. Yeany & B.K. Britton (Eds.) The psychology of learning science. Lawrence  ErlbaumAssociates, Inc.: New Jersey.

Harrison, A.G. & Treagust D.F. ( 1993). Teaching with Analogies: A case study in grade
10 optics. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 30, 1291-1307. Retrieved from  https://www.researchgate.net/profile/David_Treagust2/publication/
Krontiris-Litowitz, J. (2003), “Using manipulatives to improve learning in the
Undergraduate neurophysiology curriculum”, Advances in PhysiologyEducation, Vol. 27 No. 3, pp. 109-119. doi: 101152/advan.00042.2002.

McLaurin, D.C., Halverson, K.L. and Boyce, C.J. (2014), “Using manipulative models to
develop tree thinking”, Biology International, Vol. 54, pp. 108-121, available at:
11Halverson-Vol-54.pdf (accessed September 12, 2014).

Orgill, M. & Thomas, M. (30 December 2005). Analogies and the 5E model. National
 Science Teachers Association. Available at http://www.nsta.org/publications/


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

World Association of Lesson Studies (WALS) International Conference 2017

NISMED staff as well as teachers from partner schools presented papers at the World Association of Lesson Studies (WALS) International Conference 2017 held at Nagoya University, Japan on 24-17 November 2017. The conference, with the theme Building Research and Practice through Lesson Study, aimed to bring together practitioners and researchers around the world to share knowledge, experience, and insights of Lesson Study as a form of practice-based research. The abstracts of the papers presented at the said conference can be read in the attachments below.

Adapting Mathematical Discourse in Instruction Framework for Planning and Analyzing Research Lessons 

Ronald C. Lucasia, Rizal High School 
Priscilla M Tuazon, Rizal High School 
Erlina R. Ronda, UP NISMED

Adapting Lesson Study and Teaching Mathematics through ProblemSolving: Tensions, Dilemmas, Opportunities 

Mineria A. Se, Sta. Lucia High School 
Julie Reyes, Sta. Lucia High School 
Erlina Ronda, UP NISMED

Examining the Activity of 'Knowledgeable Other' in Lesson Study as a Hermeneutic Effort
May Chavez, UP NISMED
Erlina Ronda, UP NISMED

Lesson Adaptation in Five Countries

Ivy Mejia, UP NISMED

Lesson Study: A Framework for Developing Lessons That IntegrateScience and Mathematics 

Eligio C. ObilleJr, UP NISMED 
Soledad A. Ulep, UP NISMED

Teaching mathematics through problem solving vis-a-vis primary teachers perception ofgood mathematics teaching 

Dana M Ong , Edna G Callanta , Erlina R Ronda, UP NISMED
Yumiko Ono, Naruto University of Education 

University education experts and in-service elementary school science teacherscollaboration for professional development through lesson study 

Sally Baricaua Gutierez,, Seoul National University and UP NISMED
Arlene P. delaCruzUP NISMED


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Students Answering Their Own Questions: Voices from High School Chemistry Classroom through Lesson Study

by Amelia E. Punzalan and Arlene P. de la Cruz apdelacruz@up.edu.ph

Mas napapa-isip ako sa pagsagot sa tanong ko. Celyn, 15 years old (I think more of answering my own questions.)

nasasagot ‘yung hindi namin maintindihan. Ann, 14 years old (… the things we do not understand are being answered.)

The two statements above are part of several explanations given by third-year high school chemistry students during an interview on why they would rather ask questions (and answer them) than answer questions from the teacher. This paper presents the results of the second and third cycles of one of the two high school chemistry lesson study groups under UP NISMED’s three-year lesson study project in public schools in Metro Manila. The focus of the discussion is on the interview responses of the students after the second cycle of the study. It includes comments on teaching and learning science, the students’ questions and answers, and lesson study as a professional development activity and research opportunity in teaching science. 

The lesson study group, which was formed in May 2010, was composed of three chemistry teachers (designated as T1, T2, and T3) and two researchers from the UP NISMED Chemistry Group. These three teachers were all seasoned ones with more than two decades of high school chemistry teaching experience. Both T2 and T3 retired from the service at the end of school year 2012-2013, having reached the optional retirement age of 63 years. T1 and T2 were usually assigned to handle the relatively low-ability sections of about 40 students. As reported earlier (Punzalan, de la Cruz, Nudo, Baltazar, Mindo, & Fernandez, 2013), some of the students in these sections were repeaters. On the other hand, T3, acting as observer, knowledgeable other, and documenter, had been teaching in the top three third-year pilot science classes of the school. 

The lesson study group members decided to adopt the same goal and sub-goal of the 1st lesson study cycle, which are stated thus: The goal is to develop and nurture self-directed learners who have enduring understanding of science concepts that can be applied to real-life situations; The sub-goal is to participate actively in communicating the students’ ideas by asking questions and finding answers to their questions. They also decided Gas Laws as their research lesson. 

At the end of the four-day lesson on Boyle’s and Charles’ Laws, an intact group of six students were randomly selected by T1 and T2 from each of their classes, and interviewed by the two NISMED staff. These two groups of 12 students were composed of 10 girls and 2 boys aged 14 years (50%), 15 years (41.7%), and 17 years (8.3%) years. The purpose of the interviews was to get students’ feedback up close regarding their experience of raising and answering their own questions. The group interviews were conducted right after their respective classes. The students were instructed to be brief and direct to the point in writing down their responses which could be in English or Filipino. The interviewers saw to it that all the students had finished writing before proceeding to read the next question in Filipino. The interview questions were the following: 

1. What was your reaction when you were told to make your own question regarding the activities in your science class? 
2. What was your reaction when you were told to answer your own questions? 
3. Was it difficult for you to ask questions and answer your own questions? Explain. 
4. Which do you prefer the teacher asking questions or yourself asking questions? Explain. 
5. Did you learn science when you were given an opportunity to ask and answer your questions? Explain. 

Based on the students’ responses, as well as their reaction when told by their teacher that their task was to ask questions and answer them, the students expressed that they were excited and surprised, and that they happily welcomed and liked the idea. Therefore, they set themselves to immediately think. On the other hand, they also felt nervous and anxious, thinking they might give wrong answers. However, the students appreciated the teaching style of the teacher; because of which, their questions opened up discussions among them and they were able to freely express their thoughts about their observations and answers to their questions. It was just like imitating their teacher where she elicited from them answers to her questions. 

In this study it was also shown that students did not find the task of answering their own questions difficult. Half (six students) of those interviewed said it was not difficult, while the other half mentioned that it was just a bit difficult. They prefer being the ones asking questions, so much so that they learned their science well. 

Further, it is worth mentioning that the observers noted from the classroom observations that the students were fully engaged in the activity as well as in posting papers on the board, reading their reports, and listening to other group reporters. Students participated actively in communicating their ideas among themselves in both the small groups and the whole class, and to the teacher. 

The students’ explanations about why it was not difficult to ask and answer their own questions at all were further discussed. They reasoned that they made actual observations during the lesson and that they could confidently express themselves because they were using the mother tongue. Tagalog is the base of the national language, Filipino, which is the lingua franca in the area. Additionally, four out of the 12 students interviewed specifically mentioned the advantage of using the mother tongue in communicating and expressing their questions and answers, as well as in understanding their lessons. Their explanations affirmed previous findings regarding the use of the mother tongue (Saong & Punzalan, 2013; Punzalan et al., 2013). The students expressed their reasons for their difficulty: not knowing the correct answers to their own questions and needing to do some more thinking. 

Meanwhile, given a choice based on interview question 4, students overwhelmingly preferred that they be the one asking questions rather than the teacher. Students were learning the things they would like to know, be clarified with, and understand. They would like to ask things they were curious about. The enumerated reasons about the benefits to learning affirmed other studies mentioned in this study (Chin & Osborne, 2008, Eshach et al., 2013, Weinstein, et al., 2010, Carpenter, et al., 2006, Karpicke & Roediger, 2007, McDaniel et al., 2007 cited in Weistein et al., 2010). Students had an idea where the lesson is going to proceed. Interesting questions were asked by other students, which they understood and for which knew the answers very well. Answers were accepted and the wrong answers were corrected. However there were students who got nervous when the teacher asked questions. They said that they learned nothing when the teacher does the questioning. Perhaps, questioning, both a teacher behavior and an important instructional strategy (Kim & Kellough, 1987) does not need to be dominated by the teacher any longer. 

In consonance with the research lesson sub goal ”communicating the students’ ideas…” being able to verbalize what they know, or think of what they know is an important aspect of learning (Developing Communication Skills, n.d.). When students listen to each other, they have the opportunity to hear the same things they already know as well as other questions and ideas different from their own. Along with explanations or answers, they come to realize, first hand, that it is “alright” to have many questions and ideas about an event (Jelly, 1985). Only when ideas are made to surface will there be active learning as opposed to passive or memory learning (Chin, 2001 p. 99). 

The full version of this article is published in the UP NISMED’s Lesson Study Book 2: Learning more together, growing in practice together.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Three Teachers, One Lesson on Teaching Trigonometry through Problem Solving in a Lesson Study

by Allan M. Canonigo amcanonigo@up.edu.ph

This article discusses the different ways students solved a given problem involving trigonometry and how the teacher made use of the students’ solutions in introducing and developing conceptual understanding of sine, cosine, and tangent. In this study, the teacher introduced a problem to the class and then allowed the students to solve the problem in groups using their prior knowledge and understanding of some mathematics concepts. There were five teachers who were involved in the lesson study, three of whom implemented the same lesson in their respected classes. Results show that in all three classes, students used graphical representation to understand the problem and to present the solution. The diagrams or graphical representations were essential tools for students’ mathematical thinking. This is consistent with the study of Greeno and Hall (1997), particularly regarding the algebraic, numerical, and graphical representations. In particular, most of them used the unit circle to arrive at their solutions. 

In all these classes, the students were not able to provide much reasons to justify or explain their solutions. However, the problem has already provided opportunity for students to make connections, justify their solutions, and make sense of sine, cosine, and tangent. Two of the teachers emphasized the unit circle method in introducing sine, cosine, and tangent. Two other teachers utilized the students’ solutions in introducing the concept of sine, cosine, and tangent. Although these teachers vary in their approaches to utilizing students’ answers and solutions, two of them attempted to ask probing questions to elicit students’ justifications to their solutions. This helped the students to make a clear connection of previous mathematical concepts which were needed to solve the problem. 

In planning a lesson, the teachers involved in the lesson study team realized that in order to be effective in teaching, students’ current knowledge and interests must be placed at the center of their instructional decision making. Although they wrote all their intentions in the plan prior to the implementation of the lesson, they learned to adjust their instruction to meet the students’ learning needs. They also realized that instead of trying to fix weaknesses and fill gaps, they can make use of students’ existing proficiencies – by making use of the students’ solution to the problem in order to help them understand the concept of trigonometric functions. 

As shown in this study, the students could solve a problem in different ways when they were given the opportunity to do so. The students were able to work in groups effectively and came up with a solution and the reasoning behind that solution. On the other hand, it is very important that the teachers are able to process these solutions to develop conceptual understanding of sine, cosine, and tangent. For the teachers involved in this study, it was a challenging task for them to introduce the lesson and develop students’ conceptual understanding through problem solving by utilizing students’ solutions and answers. 

The teachers found the lesson study a rich learning experience. Through planning the lessons collaboratively, they were able to deepen their subject matter knowledge as well as their understanding of how to teach sine, cosine, and tangent. It provided them with the opportunity to actually see and be sensitive to how students processed their thinking, how students’ misconceptions and difficulties could arise, and how it was an eye-opener to observe how the students struggled with the problem, and how teachers used students’ solutions to develop conceptual understanding in different ways. They were able to see that a good lesson is one that meets the learning needs of the students. Such teachers are responsive both to their students and to the discipline of mathematics. It is therefore recommended that, whenever mathematics teachers use “real-world” contexts for teaching mathematics, they maintain a focus on mathematical ideas. 

The full version of this article is published in UP NISMED’s Lesson Study Book 2: Learning more together, growing in practice together.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Learning the Nature of Inquiry-based Teaching through Lesson Study

by Ivy Mejia

A number of reform-based initiatives in science education are focusing on inquiry as an approach to science teaching. A case in point is the K to 12 Science Curriculum of the Department of Education (DepEd, 2016). The general standard for this curriculum is for students to acquire an “understanding of basic science concepts and application of science inquiry-skills” (DepEd, 2016, p. 4). However, there are varied conceptions of inquiry both in preservice and in-service education (Akerson, Abd-El-Khalick, & Lederman, 2000). To regulate accurate understanding of inquiry in science instruction, teachers needed support in this area. To reconcile the need for the development of inquiry and support, the University of the Philippines National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development (UP NISMED) initiated a collaboration with five science teachers at a typical public school in the National Capital Region. It was a three-year project whose main goal was to enhance the capacity of science teachers to strengthen the inquiry skills of the students. This article will not describe the entire project but only the results of the first year of implementation of a professional development model, which is referred to as lesson study. 

The study employed a case study design where the case is a group of five teachers and two UP NISMED staff. The data collected were drawn from the several stages of lesson study: planning, implementation, and post-lesson discussion. The research lesson is on “evidence of chemical change.” Two classes of first-year students were selected to gather data on teaching and learning with a focus on inquiry skills. The transcript of the group discussions and lesson implementations were subjected to content analysis. These were coded and categorized to draw patterns on science inquiry skills gained both by the teachers and students. 

Figure 1. Students synthesizing their observations drawn from the activity on evidences of chemical change (Photo credit:  High School Earth Science Workgroup).
The entire process of lesson study brought realizations to teachers that unpolished process skills of students served as barriers to the development of inquiry skills. During the first lesson implementation, students had an alternative conception on initial and final observations. For example, they had to describe a piece of bread before and after it was burned. Their initial observation was that the bread looks brown while their final observation was that the bread became toasted. Another instance was ignoring the changes on the surface of a sliced eggplant once it was exposed to air. For them, they have been used to this appearance and did not consider it as a change. The group had to revise the lesson by revisiting observation as basic process skill. Students were taught what is meant by initial and final observations. On the second implementation, students were able to describe the physical and chemical changes. They provided explanations based on evidence brought by employing careful observations on changes as drawn from the activity. 

On the first year of lesson study, the members concluded that enhancement of inquiry skills of students was dependent on prior process skills of students. The group focused on the inclusion of inquiry but it overlooked the prior readiness of students to engage in inquiry. The planning, implementation, and lesson study discussion, as part of lesson study cycle, served as a way for the group to understand the factors affecting the acquisition of inquiry skills both to teachers and students. Although students were observed to have been discussing their explanations based on evidence, this does not guarantee that they have understood this feature of inquiry. The students should not only undergo the process of inquiry but also demonstrate an understanding of the process of inquiry. This is achieved when teachers are both competent in knowledge and skills about inquiry. 

The full version of this article is published in UP NISMED’s Lesson Study Book 2: Learning more together, growing in practice together.