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, July 1, 2021

Features of collaborative lesson planning (CLP) as a positive “dissonance’ to the teachers’ individual planning practices

 Sally B. Gutierez

Several researchers have proven the increase in teacher effectiveness when teachers collaborate with others of the same interests (Garmston & Wellman, 1999; Graziano & Navarrete 2012; Hawley & Valli 1999; Hiebert & Stigler 2000). One area for teacher collaboration can be planning their lessons together (Hiebert & Stigler, 2000), engaging in peer coaching, and observing new strategies being modeled (Garmston & Wellman, 1999; Hawley & Valli, 1999). 

Traditionally, most teachers are trained to practice individual lesson planning. Thus, collaborative lesson planning (CLP) has been widely researched to be a professional development for teachers (Rahman, 2019). During CLP, teachers can share their pedagogical experiences and conduct reflections-on-action on their teaching methodologies and assessment tools (Gutierez, 2015, 2019a, 2019b; Xu, 2015). Several authors recommend that CLP can be effective when experienced teachers who possess extensive knowledge and experiences on content and pedagogy share these to novice ones (Borko, Livingston, & Shavelson, 1990; Leinhardt & Greeno, 1986; Livingston & Borko, 1989). They can be joined by other academic experts such as those university-based researchers who can facilitate their PD activities. In CLP, it is important that collegial atmosphere is focused on linking teachers’ practices to students’ learning outcomes (Lovett & Cameron, 2011). Each of the members of the learning community, especially the teachers, should be provided with equal opportunities to share their insights and reflections. 

However, findings of a previous study conducted by Jones, Jones, and Vermette (2011) presented several gaps in lesson planning practices, namely: (a) unclear learning objectives; (b) unmatched assessment methods and learning objectives; (c) unspecific evidence for developing ideas; (d) failure to assess students’ level of understanding; (e) failure to specify students’ depth of involvement in knowledge construction; and (f) insufficient methods for deeper learning. Thus, in the study of Gutierez (2021), CLP was introduced and became a positive ‘dissonance’ to the teachers’ individual lesson planning practices. 

Based on the results of the study, CLP became a positive dissonance because it served as an opportunity for the teachers to establish mutual trust in a community of practice. In the study of Holmqvist (2019), in-service teachers have difficulty discerning the different approaches of teaching and learning because they have no opportunities to discuss theoretical assumptions with supervising teachers. This was addressed in CLP study through the observation, post-lesson reflection, and discussion activities in the ‘dissonance’ stage. As the teachers developed trust in each other, their anxiety of feedbacks were minimized as they developed a sense of collaborative accountability and joint ownership of their lesson plans. During observations, the teachers were also trained to become keen and critical of the specific parts of the lessons which are effective and those which require further revisions. These observation data served as their pieces of information to evaluate their lesson plans in the process of collaborative reflections. 

Through collaborative reflective practice, Gutierez (2021) identified the stages as follows: 

The ‘dissonance’ stage 

The ‘dissonance’ stage is comprised of a series of activities, namely: goal setting and planning, lesson implementation and observation, and collaborative discussion and reflection (Figure 1). 

1) Goal setting. Two goals were set during collaborative lesson planning: (1) as a science team with a goal of designing an inquiry-based lesson; and (2) goals of the lesson plan based on the students’ learning competencies. For example, the Grade 5 team’s lesson objective was to let students identify some common constellations. Students were also asked to infer how these constellations were named. These goals and objectives served as their guide to formulate the teaching procedure, the materials to be used, and the assessment methods to measure students’ understanding. 

2) Lesson implementation and observation. Here, one teacher taught the lesson while the other teachers of the team observed. The first lesson implementation was conducted after the training workshop. One teacher taught the lesson while the other teachers acted as students. The other two lesson implementations and observations were taught to actual students. The other grade-level teams were invited to observe. As observers, they focused their observations on the students’ responses. Moreover, they observed whether the objectives of the lesson were met based on the sequence of students’ activities. They particularly noted whether the allotted time for the students’ engagement in the activities was sufficient, and whether the students were able to appropriately accomplish the given tasks. 

3) Collaborative reflection and discussion. This was done after the lesson implementation. A total of three reflections and discussions for each team were conducted; one after the lesson was taught to the teachers during the training workshop and two after the lesson implementations to actual students. These usually happened right after the lesson implementations so that the events in the classroom were still fresh in the teachers’ memories to be discussed. 

Refinement stage 

In the framework, the refinement stage was primarily done during the regular gathering for discussion of the teachers. This stage is composed of four activities, namely: (1) organization and reflection on prior knowledge; (2) reflection, organization, and development of new knowledge; (3) refinement and enactment of the new knowledge; and (4) planning for task accomplishment (Figure 1). This stage is crucial as the series of activities lead them to collaboratively plan, revise, or modify their lessons. 

1) Organization and reflection on prior knowledge. This is the first activity during the refinement stage. During the training workshop, they were guided by the science training team and asked to focus on recalling the features of inquiry-based science teaching. Since they were asked to bring their existing lesson plans, they identified the inquiry features of their plans. Moreover, they were prompted to reflect on whether the activities in their existing lesson plans were able to meet the objectives of the lesson and the required competencies of the students based on their curriculum. They shared their reflections with their grade-level teams, and together, they pooled all their ideas and came up with a common decision on how to improve their lesson plans collaboratively. 

2) Reflection, organization, and development of new knowledge. The new knowledge that they developed came from their decisions on how to improve the lesson plans in the previous activity. With five different ways (one from each teacher) to teach the lesson from their existing individual plans, they discussed, reflected, and agreed on how they will develop the plan. They identified which among their individual plans have most of the inquiry features. Then they decided to revise the existing activities to align the objectives and the curriculum-based students’ competencies. 

3) Refinement and enactment of the new knowledge. Through collaborative reflections, they tried to identify the significant parts of their lesson plans such as the objectives, materials to be used, the teaching and learning sequence, and the assessment methods. In this activity, the teachers reflected on the sequence of the learning activities included in the lesson plan. Moreover, they also discussed the materials to be used and the distribution techniques during the actual teaching. This was important because they had to allocate the time for all the activities they planned to do. 

4) Task accomplishment is where they finally wrote their lesson plans. At the end of their preparation, each teacher in the team verified the finished lesson plan to see if it was written as collaboratively planned.

Figure 1. The cycle of activities which make up the series of activities in the collaborative lesson planning (CLP). 

For details of this study, the article can be accessed using the link: https://doi.org/10.1080/13664530.2020.1856177.


Borko, H., Livingston, C., & Shavelson, R. J. (1990). Teachers’ thinking about instruction. Remedial Special Education 11 (6), 40–49. doi:10.1177/074193259001100609. 

Garmston, R. J., & Wellman B. M. (1999). The adaptive school: A sourcebook for developing collaborative groups. Norwood, NJ: Christopher-Gordon Publishers. 

Graziano, K. J., & Navarrete L. A. (2012). Co-teaching in a teacher education classroom: Collaboration, compromise, and creativity. Issues in Teacher Education, 21 (1), 109–126. 

Gutierez, S. B. (2015). Teachers’ reflective practice in lesson study: A tool for improving instructional practice.” Alberta Journal of Educational Research 61 (3), 314–328. 

Gutierez, S. B. (2019a). Teacher-practitioner research inquiry and sense making of their reflections on scaffolded collaborative lesson planning experience. Asia-Pacific Science Education 5 (1), 8. doi:10.1186/s41029-019-0043-x. 

Gutierez, S. B. (2019b). Learning from teaching: Teacher sense-making on their research and school-based professional development. Issues in Educational Research 29 (4),1181–1200. 

Gutierez, S. B. (2020). Collaborative lesson planning as a positive ‘dissonance’ to the teachers’ individual planning practices: characterizing the features through reflections-on-action, Teacher Development, DOI: 10.1080/13664530.2020.1856177 

Hawley, W. D., & Valli, L. (1999). The essentials of effective professional development: A new consensus. In Teaching as the learning profession: Handbook of policy and practice, edited by L. Darling-Hammond & G. Sykes, 127–150. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 

Hiebert, J., & Stigler J. W. (2000). A proposal for improving classroom teaching: Lessons from the TIMSS video study. The Elementary School Journal, 101 (1),4–21. doi:10.1086/499656. 

Holmqvist, M. (2019). Lack of qualified teachers: A global challenge for future knowledge development. In Teacher Education in the 21st Century, edited by R. B. Monyai, chapter 5 (online). London: IntechOpen. doi:10.5772/intechopen.83417. 

Jones, K. A., Jones, J., Vermette, P. J. (2011). Planning learning experiences in the inclusive classroom: Implementing the three core UDL principles to motivate, challenge and engage all learners. Electronic Journal of Inclusive Education 2, 7. 

Leinhardt, G., Greeno, J. G. (1986). The cognitive skill of teaching. Journal of Educational Psychology 78, 75–95. doi:10.1037/0022-0663.78.2.75. Livingston, C., Borko, H. (1989). Expert-novice differences in teaching: A cognitive analysis and implications for teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education 40 (4), 36–42. doi:10.1177/002248718904000407 

Lovett, S., Cameron, M. (2011). Schools as professional learning communities for early-career teachers: How do early-career teachers rate them? Teacher Development 15 (1), 87–104. doi:10.1080/13664530.2011.555226. 

Rahman, M. S. (2019). Teachers’ peer support: Difference between perception and practice. Teacher Development 23 (1), 121–138. doi:10.1080/13664530.2018.1488765. 

Xu, H. (2015). The development of teacher autonomy in collaborative lesson preparation: A multiple-case study of EFL teachers in China. System 52, 139–148. doi:10.1016/j.system.2015.05.007.


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Lesson study groups as a teacher research learning community

Lesson study groups as a teacher research learning community
Sally B. Gutierrez


    When it comes to school reform, teacher development is one of the areas which should be given attention. In recent years, the emergence of teacher professional learning communities was continuously inspired by the community of practice (CoP) perspective (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Contrary to the ideas of the traditional one-shot and expert-driven professional development models, teachers in a CoP actively construct and re-construct their teaching practices through regular interactions. Lesson study, the popularly adapted form of teacher professional development in Japan (Saito & Atencio, 2013), resembles the most important feature of CoP which pays attention to how teachers use their lesson plans as objects of learning as they reconstruct their pedagogical practices. One feature that is unique to lesson study is the engagement of teachers as researchers. In fact, their collaboratively planned lessons are oftentimes referred to as “research lessons” (Saito & Atencio, 2013, p. 88). In this article, I present some empirical studies which regard a lesson study group as a teacher research learning community. The article is divided into sections which articulate various aspects in a teacher research learning community such as possible areas of study in a teacher learning community and a lesson study group as a research learning community. 

Some areas of investigation in a teacher research learning community 

    Studies show that teachers’ effectiveness increases when teachers come together and work with others of the same interests (Garmston & Wellman, 1999; Graziano & Navarrete, 2012; Hawley & Valli, 1999; Hiebert & Stigler, 2000). As they come together, they establish a community and focus their activities on finding solutions to their existing problems which may be in various areas in their teaching career such as content and pedagogical strategies. They may even focus on answering their questions on how to improve their professional competence. They may therefore employ research procedures that would unravel the knitted complexities of the teaching and learning process (Loucks-Horsley et al., 1987). 

    In education, teacher learning community can be situated in one school where teachers collaboratively use their lessons as their learning instruments. With trusting and collegial relationships, they can utilize lesson planning as an object of learning and as they continuously meet over time, they deepen their professional friendship, establish open communication, and become more reflective. Collaboratively, they can use their theoretical knowledge, experiences, and personal capacities to plan for lessons that would impact their students’ learning. Their extended engagement is sustained without pressures through collective efforts (Harris & Jones, 2010). 

        In the previous study, Gutierez (2019) articulated the processes of collaborative lesson planning of the teachers. In this study, the teachers were involved in identifying the impacts of their activities in their research learning community. Results of the study revealed that during the teachers’ reflections which is one of the processes of collaborative lesson planning, they identified the advantages collective and social process of research learning community, experience-based inquiry, and the value to collective leadership to name a few (Gutierez, 2019). Reflecting on these aspects, the teachers realized that their roles can also extend to becoming practitioner-researchers by gaining insights from each other in the teacher learning community. 

        Another teacher learning research opportunity is utilizing the teachers’ classrooms (Gutierez & Kim, 2017). By observing each other on how they implement their collaboratively planned lessons, they may focus on understanding the uniqueness of each classroom dynamics based on the students’ characteristics. In the study of Gutierez and Kim (2017), the teachers realized that even though the implementation strategies of a single lesson is already planned ahead, the teacher-implementer’s responsiveness to the unique and diverse students’ needs in specific classrooms may alter the plans that were set. However, there still needs scaffolding from each other to set contingencies for these unplanned scenarios that may arise. Teachers specifically mentioned that these realizations would not arise if they were not intentional in their inquiry in their classrooms. 

Figure 1. Teachers trying out their research lesson as one of their collaborative activities in a teacher research learning community

        Based on the above empirical studies, teacher research learning community should be established in such a way that teachers can regularly collaborate and exchange ideas and insights. By giving value to regular social interactions, they may gain understanding of their professional practices through collective scrutiny and judgement of their instructional methods. Moreover, they may situate their teacher learning communities at their own local schools considering their familiarity on the social and cultural norms that are existing. Thus, a teacher learning community can be a sustainable school-based PD wherein teachers increase their agency and effectiveness by utilizing various aspects of their teaching profession as objects of research. 

Lesson study groups as research learning communities 

            What qualifies a lesson study group as a teacher research community is the use of lesson plans as objects of learning. Using lesson plans as research materials in lesson study, teachers continuously try to understand and improve the quality of their lessons during their constructive critiquing in their learning communities. With the shared goal of improving their practices, they try to focus on their lessons and improve them according to the students’ responses. Moreover, as they establish a common interest of improving their practices, they focus their inquiry on their lessons and not on each other’s weaknesses in either content or pedagogy (Gutierez & Kim, 2017). 

        Using their lesson plans, each member in the lesson study team gather data during lesson observation and implementation that could be used as evidence and areas for discussion when they come together to conduct their regular interactions in the learning community. Through time and as teachers embrace the essence of practitioner-researchers, their discussions may deepen to include inquiry on how to reconcile practical and theoretical problems using their lesson plans as research materials (Gutierez, 2019). Moreover, since the direct implications are observed from the students’ responses, knowledge construction directly comes from the classroom through negotiated dialogues. 

            Traditionally, teachers are reluctant to engage in research activities. Dimmock (2016) identified barriers to their reluctance such as lack of time, motivation, and priority. However, looking into lesson study as a professional development which focuses on collaborative research lessons, teachers may develop the agency to become researchers in a community of like-minded professionals. Since lesson study is conducted in collaboration, lesson study teams can serve as the teacher learning community who regularly come together and conduct research. 


Garmston, R. J., & Wellman, B. M. (1999). The adaptive school: A sourcebook for developing collaborative groups. Christopher-Gordon Publishers, Norwood, MA. 

Graziano, K. J., & Navarrete, L. A. (2012). Co-teaching in a teacher education classroom: Collaboration, compromise, and creativity. Issues in Teacher Education, 21(1), 109-126. 

Gutierez, S. B. (2019). Teacher-practitioner research inquiry and sense making of their reflections on scaffolded collaborative lesson planning experience. Asia-Pacific Science Education, 5. 

Gutierez, S. B., & Kim, H-B. (2017). Becoming teacher-researchers: Teachers’ reflections on collaborative professional development. Educational Research, 59 (4), 444-459. DOI: 10.1080/00131881.2017.1347051 

Harris, A., & Jones, M. (2010). Professional learning communities and system improvement. Improving Schools, 13(2), 172–181. DOI: 10.1177/1365480210376487 

Hawley, W. D., & Valli, L. (1999). The essentials of effective professional development: A new consensus. In L. Darling-Hammond & G. Sykes (Eds.), Teaching as the Learning Profession: Handbook of Policy and Practice (pp. 127-150). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Inc. 

Hiebert, J, & Stigler, J. W. (2000). A proposal for improving classroom teaching: Lessons from the TIMSS video study. The Elementary School Journal, 101(1), 4-21. DOI: 10.1086/499656 

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991a). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Loucks-Horsley, S., Harding, C. K., Arbuckle, M. A., Murray, L. B., Dubea, C., & Williams, M. K. (1987). Continuing to learn: A guidebook for teacher development. Andover: The Regional Laboratory for Educational Improvement of the Northeast and Islands. 

Saito, & Atencio. (2013). A conceptual discussion of lesson study from a micro-political perspective: Implications for teacher development and pupil learning. Teaching and Teacher Education, 31, 87-95. DOI: 10.1016/j.tate.2013.01.001