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.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

PALS and UP NISMED Hold First National Convention on Lesson Study



Three hundred thirty teachers, school administrators, educators, and research students from all over the country attended the first national convention on Lesson Study in the Philippines hosted by the Philippine Association of Lesson and Learning Studies, Inc. (PALS) and the University of the Philippines National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (UP NISMED) on 11-12 April 2019 at the UP NISMED auditorium. 

With the theme Lesson Study: Collaboratively Improving Practice One Lesson at a Time, the convention provided a forum for the participants to share their Lesson Study (LS) experiences and outputs and to learn from those of others. The event also sought to inspire more teachers and schools to do LS, to publish their research lessons and contribute to the country’s teaching and learning resources, and to encourage research on LS that is adaptive and responsive to Philippine school settings.

Dr. Christine Kim-Eng Lee of the National Institute of Education in Singapore and Immediate Past President of WALS gave the keynote address titled Moving Beyond the Surface Features of Lesson Studies: The Experience of Singapore Schools. 

Lesson Study, according to Dr. Christine Lee, is about opening the lesson to fellow teachers and to school administrators and, in so doing, allowing “extra eyes” to see how children experience the curriculum. What Lesson Study does is “keep the students at the heart of a professional development activity.” 

Dr. Lee narrates how the growth of Lesson Study in Singapore followed a global trend in adopting Lesson Study as a form of teacher-led professional development activity. Citing a school-based implementation of Lesson Study in Singapore, she underscores the need to go beyond the surface features of Lesson Study and focus instead on issues of quality. 

An important highlight in Dr. Lee’s keynote is her characterization of potential sources of dilution of Lesson study. One potential source, she says, is teachers’ giving too much emphasis on the planning of the research lesson “forgetting to situate it as part of a series of lessons in a unit of work.” Other sources, she says, include inadequate attention given to studying relevant curriculum materials and literature related to the topic, the struggle to identify a research theme and carry out the research, inadequate use of evidence during observation, and lack of teacher content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge. 

Dr. Lee concludes by challenging the audience to look beyond the surface features of Lesson Study and to give more premium to depth than breadth. In essence, it is a challenge to “embrace the substance and spirit of Lesson Study” seen through the lens of teachers gaining knowledge about how students learn, developing new understanding of content and pedagogy, and reflecting on their work and their learning. 

The convention featured plenary talks, symposia, panel discussions, and poster presentations. Dr. Masami Isoda of the University of Tsukuba, who also serves as adviser to PALS, gave the talk School Curriculum Management for the Establishment of Learning Community on SEAMEO Curriculum and Teacher Standards. Dr. Manabu Sumida of Ehime University spoke about collaborating in LS beyond the classroom and presented a web-based app that he developed which enables collaborative analysis of video lessons. Dr. Wataru Hanai of Fukui University spoke about reflective LS and professional learning communities. Dr. Arif Hidayat of Indonesia University of Education shared LS experiences and classroom teaching research in Indonesia. Dr. Teodora Salubayba and Dr. Marlon Ebaeguin of the University of the Philippines encouraged the conduct of local research during their talks on action research and design-based research approach, respectively. 

Dr. Masami Isoda presented a comparison between teacher standards as defined by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) and those of the Philippine standards as presented in the symposium led by the group of Dr. Soledad A. Ulep. He described the approach in the Philippine standards as learner-centered and highly proficient, while that of the SEAMEO standards proposes different standards for different subject areas. SEAMEO, he said, describes the play but does not discuss the progress. 

Dr. Isoda observed that while the teaching of content in mathematics is taught through exercises, the process of thinking or the “way of thinking” can only be taught through reflection. 

In the plan, do, and see cycle of LS, Dr. Isoda asked the audience which part is most important to them. He cited the case of Japan where subject-based LS is the most important to them. In subject-based LS, there must be a theme and objective. If a lesson plan does not have a theme and objective, he said, then it is hardly considered a lesson study plan at all but only a lesson plan. He also asked the participants to enlarge a Japanese character for “haru” or spring using a ruler. He explained how the simple activity lets students apply different strategies of learning. He then presented the teacher standards of Okinawa, Japan which defne the multifaceted roles that teachers take: a public servant, a teacher, and an educator. 

Dr. Manabu Sumida, who is currently the Director of the Japan Society of Science Education, introduced the use of web-based collaborative lesson study system which he developed. He also discussed the advantages of doing Lesson Study taking into account different foreign perspectives. He mentioned a double-edged sword in LS which situates different models of lesson study as both benefitting from standardization and, at the same time, struggling with keeping up with the latest research trends. 

Dr. Sumida’s web-based application allows teachers to watch videos of LS implementation and do video analysis during their free time. Using the app, he was able to showcase sample videos featuring activities of students from Ehime University while teaching students of the University of the Philippines Integrated School. According to Dr. Sumida, links to these videos are sent to teachers and observers to study and comment on. In the same manner, these comments can also be downloaded and analyzed for further study. 

Dr. Sumida also shared a key finding from a study which showed Japanese students performing well in the science component of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) despite their lack of interest in science subjects. 

Dr. Wataru Hanai delivered the plenary session titled Reflective Lesson Study and Professional Learning Communities. The presentation focused on how reflective lesson study (LS) is carried out within professional learning communities in Japan as attributed to the Japanese culture. Dr. Hanai reiterated that there is a need to reconstruct the basic learning mode in schools from the ‘traditional content-transmission mode’ to ‘content + inquiry-based competence-formation’ approaches of learning. He also emphasized that the teachers’ collaborative learning in schools, long-term reflective lesson study, and professional learning community are key in creating a new learning culture in this century, leading to educational change and reform. 

In Dr. Hanai’s presentation, he underscored the importance of reflectiveness in 21st century education; as such, it should be situated at the heart of key learning competencies. His talk also focused on the process and organization of a long-term reflective lesson study in Fukui, Japan where teachers write a longitudinal reflective practice report and reflect on the students’ learning from a long-term perspective. Dr. Hanai presented different perspectives on the process of change in schools’ learning culture. He also highlighted the need to re-appreciate the meaning of school-based lesson studies and learning studies. 

During the open forum, Dr. Hanai elaborated on how teachers who are part of a reflective study group write their individual reflective report on the lessons they opened through lesson studies, focusing on their students’ learning progress in these lessons. Then, at the end of the year, these teachers gather to work as a reflective group and share their reports. This practice, according to him, enables changes in teachers’ lessons which also lead to changes in student learning. 

Dr. Arif Hidayat of the Department of Physics Education at the Indonesia University of Education delivered the plenary session titled From Lesson Study to Learning Improvement: A Case of Indonesia. The presentation is based on a team research he conducted with Dr. Hendayana and Dr. Supriatna that focused on the identity of learning in LS. Dr. Hidayat pointed out that teachers should mind student thinking and listen more to student dialogues. This, he said, must be implemented as well in conducting reflective LS, keeping in mind that every single person in the LS group should be a star and that all voices must be heard. 

Dr. Hidayat enumerated new movements that aspire for higher quality LS. He emphasized the significance of collegiality in LS practices. He said that in LS, teachers must be observers instead of models. In his view, a great LS is not about high quality lesson but about accepting the challenge to improve it together. In their research, Dr. Hidayat’s team hoped to promote the landscape shift of understanding in education from teacher-centered to learner-centered. He shared the case of Indonesia, where LS became an activity system in schools. 

Dr. Hidayat concluded by sharing learning improvement topics such as the changing roles of teachers and students as knowledge builders and knowledge creators, respectively. He also challenged the audience to keep up with current initiatives such as his own Indonesia Consortium for Learning Improvement (ICLI) whose aim is to organize an activity system of LS that is more academic and supportive of an active community. 

In her talk, Dr. Teodora M. Salubayba shared insights and recommendations on integrating action research into lesson study. Dr. Salubayba presented an actual action research done in a school. She specifically described the action research process that was carried out in that school and the problems that arose. She mentioned that clashes of ideas between and among persons involved in the action research usually lead to discord. In many cases, she documented members initially doing action research becoming less involved later on and that, sometimes, the completion of the action research is left on the initiative of only one person. 

Dr. Salubayba’s talk delved into the intricacies of action research and its similarities with lesson study. One similarity she said is that, like in action research, one of the goals of doing lesson study is to make teachers more independent in doing research. Another similarity is that, like in lesson study, one of the challenges in doing action research is to make the group work harmoniously and productively. More than the clash of ideas, the problem in doing lesson study may come from a clash of personalities among those involved. She further mentioned that teachers in public schools in general, have a hard time accepting criticisms, and for that among other things, she thinks that doing action research on lesson study could be a good idea. 

Dr. Marlon Ebaeguin presented his study about the way he and teachers from two high schools used Design-Based Research (DBR) as a methodology in implementing Lesson Study with culture as intervention. He holds that in order to attain more teaching success and sustainability, research on contextualizing LS in the Philippines has to be done continually. He cited what he called the ‘big disconnect’ between educational research and what we observe in teachers’ practices, and between the general lack of understanding of Lesson Study as deterrents of teacher growth and the proper implementation of Lesson Study in Philippine schools. 

Dr. Ebaeguin detailed the characteristics of a quality DBR study and its advantages over other research methods in implementing LS. Citing the flexibility of testing intervention, mixing methods, and the possibility of continuous evolution of design principles as key features of DBR, he illustrated ways by which LS can be situated in a Philippine public educational environment. With culture as intervention of LS, the bases for the design of the research program are more carefully considered and structured. He emphasized that with all these features, there should be expected variations in the implementations and results of DBR studies. He concluded by saying that DBR can support LS by pointing to ways in which research on LS needs to be undertaken. 

The three symposia organized by local researchers, educators, and teachers focused on the following topics: 1) Lesson Study as vehicle for teacher leadership development in the public schools; 2) Fostering collaborative professionalism; and 3) From tensions to institutionalization: Lesson Study in higher education institutions

The first symposium titled Lesson Study as Vehicle for Teacher Leadership Development in Public Schools was facilitated by the team of Ms. Maylani L. Galicia, the Assistant Division Superintendent of the City Division of Tayabas, Albay. Her co-presenters were Mathematics teachers from three different schools in Albay namely, Ms. Brenly B. Mendoza and Mr. Ryan T. Casulang (from Ligao National High School, LNHS); Ms. Geylen M. Abainza (from Marcial O. RaƱola Memorial School, MORMS); and Ms. Ma. Salve B. Rosal (from Libon Agro-Industrial High School, LAIHS). 

The symposium focused on LS as a vehicle for teacher leadership development in LNHS, MORMS, and LAIHS. The team took pride in sharing how the Schools Division Office of Albay competed for the BEST Innovation Fund Grant in 2018 and was awarded PHP 1M for the project LS in Mathematics and Science. Through this grant, videography became a supplementary feature in their LS implementations. The presenters also highlighted how lesson study in Albay has progressed from an offshoot training with UP NISMED staff in 2011 up to the present. 

The first speaker, Ms. Mendoza, shared the LNHS LS goal to make students value mathematics by developing their thinking skills. Based on their LS research, positive impacts on content, pedagogy, and attitudes of the 16 LS implementers/researchers have been observed during the implementation of LS in LNHS. The next speaker was Mr. Casulang whose presentation focused on how LS can serve as a tool to improve oneself as a teacher. According to him, the introduction of LS to LNHS was a big boost to the teaching competence and abilities of his fellow mathematics teachers. The third speaker, Ms. Abainza, described LS in Albay as really growing. For her, a good thing about LS implementation is for educators to be able to reflect on their practice through pictures and videos. She ended her presentation by quoting Robert John Meehan who said: The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration, our growth is limited to our own perspectives. 

The last speaker was Ms. Rosal. The focus of her presentation was to show how LS contributed to the development of leadership capacities among teachers in LAIHS. She pointed out some key learnings from their LS implementation. According to her, LAIHS’ success depends on institutional support, attitude, working relationship among teachers, work culture and environment, acceptance of the program, and class scheduling. 

The group headed by Dr. Soledad A. Ulep led the convention’s second symposium which focused on collaborative professionalism. Dr. Monalisa T. Sasing, Ms. Richelle Anne C. Mangulabnan, Ms. Helen G. Tanio, and Ms. Julie R. Reyes comprised the rest of the group. Dr. Ulep’s introduction consisted of a short orientation on the Philippine Professional Standards for Teachers (2017) and its definition and elaboration of teacher quality and expectations. Later on, she emphasized the need to help teachers in their pursuit of continued personal growth and professional development. She explained that the way to help teachers with this pursuit is by giving them sustained support through collaboration, and one of the best ways to collaborate with other teachers is by engaging in lesson study. 

The group’s entire presentation revolved around the ten tenets of collaborative professionalism. These tenets are: (1) collective autonomy, (2) collective efficacy, (3) collaborative inquiry, (4) collective responsibility, (5) collective initiative, (6) mutual dialogue, (7) joint work, (8) common meaning purpose, (9) collaborating with students, and (10) big-picture thinking for all. In each of the presentations made by the other group members, the practice of these tenets was illustrated. 

Dr. Sasing’s study highlights the use of microteaching and lesson study in the implementation of lessons for pre-service teacher education. The intervention in the form of microteaching addressed some of the things pre-service teachers needed before they implemented actual research lessons. Ms. Malabnan and her co-teachers at Pinagkawitan Integrated National High School in Batangas, did a modified lesson study for their students to accomplish a project that involved four subject areas. Her group looked into the students’ ability to work well in groups. Ms. Tanio and the teachers from Diffun National High School, Ifugao Village Integrated School, and Magsaysay National High School did a lesson study on the research lesson Images Formed by Plane Mirrors. This undertaking involved several schools in the province, as well as some staff of UP NISMED. Ms. Reyes and her co-teachers at Sta. Lucia High School in Pasig City did a lesson study on various research lessons in mathematics after they attended a seminar at UP NISMED. The implementation of lesson study in their school ultimately resulted in a presentation of a paper at the World Association of Lesson Study in Nagoya, Japan in 2017. 

The third and last symposium titled From Tensions to Institutionalization: Lesson Study in Higher Education Institutions was led by the group headed by Dr. Levi E. Elipane. He is currently an Associate professor at the College of Graduate Studies and Teacher Education Research of Philippine Normal University. His team is composed of Mr. Von Christopher Chua, from De La Salle University, Dr. Leorence Tandog, Ms. Anna Jean Garcia from the University of Southern Mindanao, Ms. Geraldine Libron, and Engineer Marian Grace Veloso of the Ateneo De Davao University. 

The symposium focused mainly on how to nurture and make lesson study more sustainable in higher education institutions. According to Dr. Elipane, he has been collaborating with fellow educators from various universities to make lesson study a form of research and development initiative. His group look looked into how LS can be institutionalized by incorporating it in graduate study courses. They also do demonstration teaching and share their lesson study stories. Seminars, partnerships, and research endeavors were also offered. By doing this, their teachers and students were able to present papers in international conferences. Some were able to publish their research and received recognitions and awards. 

Mr. Chua, a student of Dr. Elipane, presented his lesson study journey during his graduate studies from 2013 to the present. His engagement in lesson study, he said, was a process of metamorphosis for him. In 2013, he found himself as part of a four-member lesson study team that helped other students. That initial experience led his team to write a paper as a requirement for the course. This paper was accepted to several international conferences and eventually was published in the International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies. Dr. Tandog, for his part, shared his team’s experiences in engaging teachers in lesson study through their graduate program. Seminar-workshops were embedded in their courses. From these undertakings, the students were able to produce various research outputs. In Ms. Garcia’s presentation, she shared one of the research outputs of her graduate students which was accepted in an International Conference in Korea. 

The last to present were Ms. Libron and Engr. Veloso from Ateneo de Davao who showcased their lesson study journey which started when they attended the National Conference in Science and Mathematics Education (NCSME) at UP NISMED in 2013. Their learning process of lesson study was enriched through a series of consultations, seminar-workshops, capacity-building, and lesson implementations. Last year, the team of Engr. Veloso was able to present a paper in an International Conference in Malaysia, which also won them the Best Paper award. 

The eight poster presentations provided participants with a glimpse of LS activities around the country. 

The convention is an initial undertaking of PALS which now has over 500 members all over the country. Plans for the second convention which include activities such as parallel presentations and open class or school visit, are now underway.
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Professor Christine Lee Keynotes First National Convention on Lesson Study

Lesson Study, according to Dr. Christine Lee, is about opening the lesson to fellow teachers and to school administrators and, in so doing, allowing “extra eyes” to see how children experience the curriculum. What Lesson Study does is “keep the students at the heart of a professional development activity.” Thus starts the keynote address of Dr. Lee during the First Philippine Association of Lesson and Learning Studies (PALS) on 11-12 April 2019 at UP NISMED. The theme of the convention is, Lesson Study: Collaboratively Improving Practice One Lesson at a time.


Dr. Lee addresses the audience during the first PALS convention on 11-12 April 2019 held at UP NISMED.
Dr. Lee’s keynote address which is titled Going beyond the Surface Features of Lesson Study: The Experience of Singapore, narrates how the growth of Lesson Study in Singapore followed a global trend in adopting Lesson Study as a form of teacher-led professional development activity. Citing a school-based implementation of Lesson Study in Singapore, she underscores the need to go beyond the surface features of Lesson Study and focus instead on issues of quality.

Teachers are at the heart of educational reforms, says Dr. Lee. For this reason, Singapore’s government, as well as many other governments that adopted Lesson Study, invests heavily in the professional development of teachers. In Singapore, in particular, it is a widely held belief that “no education system can be better than the quality of its educators.” She adds that Singapore’s economy is made even more vibrant by a strong educational system in which teachers are well-trained and highly motivated.

What sets Lesson Study apart from other typical PD programs? 

Dr. Lee sees in Lesson Study an opportunity for teachers to “develop a common understanding of what good teaching practice entails.” Because Lesson Study is teacher-led, through it, they can be “actively involved in the process of instructional change and curriculum development.” Dr. Lee recognizes that an important part of the challenges she encountered when she started doing Lesson Study involves dearth of reference materials written in English. When finally she had the chance to observe classes in Japan, all the writings on the board and the conversations made are in Japanese. She gives credit to Catherine Lewis, her mentor at Teachers’ College, Columbia University, for inspiring her to bring Lesson Study from the United States to Singapore. It helps that she had with her Lewis’ Lesson Study Handbook published in 2002. What serves as impetus for the growth of Lesson Study in Singapore Schools? Dr. Lee mentions that Lesson Study is one of a few platforms used in Singapore for developing Professional Learning Communities that aspires for “leveling up teacher professionalism in a quick and effective way.” With this in mind and with the emergence of different models of Lesson Study in Japan, the U.S., Hong Kong, and other places, Singapore has come up with Lesson Study models of its own that revolve around a shared vision – models that involved entire schools.

The need to look beyond the surface features of Lesson Study 

An important highlight in Dr. Lee’s keynote is her characterization of potential sources of dilution of Lesson study. One potential source, she says, is teachers’ giving too much emphasis on the planning of the research lesson “forgetting to situate it as part of a series of lessons in a unit of work.” Other sources, she says, include inadequate attention given to studying relevant curriculum materials and literature related to the topic, the struggle to identify a research theme and carry out the research, inadequate use of evidence during observation, and lack of teacher content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge. Dr. Lee concludes by challenging the audience to look beyond the surface features of Lesson Study and to give more premium to depth than breadth. In essence, it is a challenge to “embrace the substance and spirit of Lesson Study” seen through the lens of teachers gaining knowledge about how students learn, developing new understanding of content and pedagogy, and reflecting on their work and their learning.


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