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.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Desirable Mindsets in Lesson Study

 By Rolando M. Tan

Lesson study provides a collaborative atmosphere where teachers reflect on their practices in the pursuit of instituting pedagogical reforms in their lessons (Gutierez, 2015). While improvements of research lessons through implementation and post-lesson reflection and discussion are important outcomes in lesson study, it is also vital that teachers develop desirable mindsets in every aspect of the lesson study cycle. 

Desirable mindsets of teachers were evident in a school-based lesson study program conducted in an exclusive private school for boys, where three research lessons were implemented in the teachers’ respective classes. One of the three lesson study teams developed a research lesson on weathering, a Grade 5 Earth Science topic. The research lesson aimed to make students identify the agents of weathering in the environment: wind, water, plants’ roots and changing temperature from situations taking place in the natural environment. The research lesson made use of learning stations. At each station, students were asked to identify a particular agent of weathering in a given situation. The post-lesson reflection and discussion became an important venue where pertinent issues were raised and deliberated upon. Arising from these discussions were desirable mindsets that were instrumental in identifying gaps or oversights in the research lesson. 

1. Identifying problematic areas based on students’ responses 

One of the learning stations aimed to make students identify that wind is an agent of weathering. A video animation showed the wind “rubbing” against the surface of a rock as the rock decreases in size while particles of it are carried by the wind. One of the Knowledgeable Others (KO) in the lesson study team heard students say that the rock looked like a potato, causing confusion among the students. 

Another problem in the animated video was that it did not show that the particles carried by the wind collided with the surface of the rock causing the rock’s surface to get scratched and weathered. The use of the animated video failed to make the students understand the natural process of how wind can weather rocks. Selection of the appropriate learning material in science is crucial to the teaching-learning process. Thus, teachers must always position themselves from a critical standpoint when selecting video materials especially when an animated video simulates a natural phenomenon like weathering. 

The use of animated video to simulate another phenomenon called frost wedging became a major talking point during the post-lesson reflection and discussion. The teacher-implementer realized that there was a problem in processing the answers in the video simulation of frost wedging as the video failed to demonstrate how frost wedging could weather rocks. He realized that the video watched by the students made them answer that water softens the rocks, which may be a possible source of misconception. This is an important realization because it will help the lesson study team decide whether they will continue to use the same video or find a better material that will not lead to a misconception. Cheng and Yee (2012) stated that listening to what students say gives teachers a better understanding of how students learn. 

2. Foreseeing possible problems in future lesson implementations 

One of the learning stations focused on the role of plants’ roots in the weathering of rocks. A sequence of pictures showed how a seed dropped by a bird on the ground grew and became a tree while the roots continued to grow downward thereby breaking the rocks underneath. While the processing of this activity made the students conclude that the roots of the plants is an agent of weathering, one of the teachers opined that the pictorial story might make the students conclude that the bird is the agent of weathering. This kind of observation is commendable as it prevents possible errors in future implementations not encountered in the initial implementation. Such proactive inputs must be taken into consideration in the revision of instructional materials to prevent the occurrence of misconceptions. 

3. Raising unrelated but important comments 

In the processing of answers concerning plant roots as agent of weathering, one member of the lesson study team corrected the teacher-implementer regarding the function of plant roots. He heard the teacher-implementer mentioned that the roots grow into cracks to acquire nutrients. Actually, not only do roots acquire nutrients from the ground but water as well. Thus, plants send their roots into cracks in search of water. Although this issue is not related to the objectives of the research lesson, citing oversights, not related to the main objectives must be taken into account as these corrections are valuable for other lessons and therefore must not be ignored. 

4. Planning the research lesson considering the allotted time 

 Realizing that the time was not enough to cover the four agents of weathering, one of the lesson study members suggested that each group focus on one station and for them to share their observations during the processing of the answers. One of the KO suggested that they focus on two agents in one meeting and the other two in the next so that all students would get the chance to get engaged in the learning stations. Time management is just as important as the content of the lesson itself as time constraints can affect the execution of lesson as well as the processing of students’ responses. 

5. Appreciating the importance of post-lesson deliberation 

One of the members of the lesson study team gave a positive impression about the conduct of the whole process of lesson study. For him, it provided opportunities to see the strengths and weaknesses of the research lesson, especially when the lesson was implemented with observers present. Such appreciation is vital to the sustainability of the program. Lewis (2002) mentioned that one of the supporting conditions for lesson study to succeed is the belief that improvement can be achieved through a collective effort. When teachers stop believing that nothing will be achieved from the inputs gathered in post-lesson reflection and discussion, the sustainability of the lesson study process will definitely be undermined. 

References: 

Cheng, L.P. & Yee, L.P. (2012). A Singapore case of lesson study. The Mathematics Educator, 21(2), 34-57. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ961515.pdf 

Gutierez, S.B. (2015). Teachers’ reflective practice in lesson study: A tool for improving instructional practice. Alberta Journal of Education Research, 61 (3), 314-328. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301633235_ Teachers%27_reflective_practice_in_lesson_study_A_tool_for_improving_ Instructional practice 

Lewis, C. (2002). Does lesson study have a future in the United States? Nagoya Journal of Education and Human Development, 1, 1-23. doi: 10.4119/UNIBI/jsse-v3-i1-967

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Saturday, June 13, 2020

E-Lesson Study: Using Online Platforms for a Collegial Collaboration on Lesson Research and Development


by Rolando Tan
The global pandemic has upended many academic activities the world over. Professional development programs for teachers are not even spared. Alternative methods of learning have become more of a necessity than merely an add-on in many academic activities, considering that physical distancing as a public health measure against the spread of the novel coronavirus is in place. In this article, I would like to share my thoughts on how professional development programs like Lesson Study can still be implemented using different online platforms for a collegial collaboration on developing research lessons.         
Learning Management Systems and Video Conferencing for Online Collaboration and Post-lesson Reflection and Discussion
The use of Learning Management Systems (LMS) is one platform where members of the lesson study team can collaborate in planning research lessons online without having to resort to face-to-face meetings. Learning management systems is a digital platform that facilitates the implementation of courses in conventional face-to-face, blended, and online learning environments (Wright, Lopez, Montgomerie, Reju and Schmoller, 2014). Impact studies on collaborative learning environments using LMS showed that students expressed interest in using the web-based tools to learn programming (Cavus, Uzunboylu, Ibrahim, 2006). Another study showed that university faculty members and college students demonstrated positive attitudes toward the use of LMS in the teaching-learning process (Alshorman and Bawaneh, 2018). It can therefore be used as an avenue for the Knowledgeable other (KO) to critique their work and offer insights regarding gaps or problematic areas in the lesson plan, the worksheets, and other teaching materials that are utilized in the lesson.
Some of the popular LMS like EDMODO have features that allow posting of materials, where the discussion threads are provided for sharing inputs of those who are reading the posts. Hence, learning management systems can facilitate interactions and feedback that are important in collaboration and critiquing. Since teachers also have Facebook accounts, setting up a Facebook page can also be used as LMS since any new inputs or developments taking place in the development of research lessons can show up as notifications in their smartphones and therefore facilitate engagement.
Educators have started to capitalize on popular social media platforms to facilitate the teaching-learning process (Williams and Whiting, 2016; Suwannatthachote and Tantrarungroi, 2012). Some studies show that there is a strong positive relationship between the use of Twitter, a popular social media platform, as an LMS) and student engagement while the use of a traditional LMS did not significantly enhanced their level of engagement (Williams and Whiting, 2016).  
Online collaboration using LMS may have some advantages. Inputs, opinions, comments and suggestions are clearly documented and can be revisited again. Since comments and suggestions can be written on threads for each post, members of the lesson study team can readily react to the statements.
In blended learning formats the online interaction provides a flexible learning environment for the teachers to interact as they need not react right away unlike in a face-to-face meeting where the LS team need to come up with solutions or suggestions to improve the lesson. Another advantage of online collaboration is the degree or extent of collaboration that can be documented and therefore motivate the timid or non-participative teachers to contribute to the development of the research lesson. The KO can provide a more adequate content as the platform can allow the KO to upload content in the post, which could be a video, a PowerPoint presentation or a photo, instead of just verbally explaining to them the suggestions or comments addressing certain areas of their research lesson. Since the lesson preparation is flexible, members of the team, as well as the KO, can have adequate time to analyze parts of the research lesson and make carefully thought out suggestions which cannot easily come out in a face-to-face meeting.
During post lesson discussions, group chats in the LMS can also serve as a venue to exchange ideas through group chats. Suwannathachote and Tantraringroj (2012) noted a significant but low correlation  between Facebook activities and group engagement among 205 pre-service teachers who were enrolled in an educational technology course. This implies that implementing lessons using Facebook as an LMS can be associated to an increased level of collaboration among students. 
There are certain advantages in using group chats.  Previous discussions can be recalled so there is no need for a tape recorder during post lesson discussions. The KO or the facilitator will be able to assess the extent of contribution of each member of the lesson and evaluate the degree of collaboration taking place in the development of the research lesson. In this way, the facilitator can call the attention of lesson study members and motivate them to share their ideas with their colleagues. Furthermore, since attachments are allowed in Facebook group chats, discussions and explanations can be best presented with pictures, videos, PDF files and other such attachments.     
                  Video conferencing is another way to have a virtual face to face where members of the lesson study team, together with their KO can discuss real time the issues and gaps that they need to address in the research lesson they are developing. Rosetti and Surnyt (1984) claimed that video conferencing can be more effective than the traditional face-to-face interaction of teachers and students. At present, various platforms can now be used to implement video conferencing. One of the latest platforms is ZOOM where real time discussions can be conducted to promote the exchange of ideas in the spirit of collegiality.
 Online lesson implementation of the research lesson
The online implementation of the research lesson is the challenging part in the process of lesson study. While so many instructional strategies have been developed by instructional designers and blended learning advocates to promote instruction using web-based tools, the difficulty lies in how members of the lesson study team can observe the teaching-learning process. Pupils’ responses are very vital in assessing the effectiveness of the research lesson. The on-the-spot observation of pupils’ responses in a lesson implementation might not be effectively done in an online environment as it depends on the compliance of the students participating in the lesson. Thus, members of the lesson study team may look for other pieces of evidence of students’ outputs during the implementation. This is when the pupils submit their work by sending their worksheets as attachments in the group chat or by email.
The lesson implementer might schedule the lesson implementation with his students and set deadlines for submission of their outputs, which serve as a formative assessment component of the research lesson. Group chats during lesson implementation can also be used to help students who cannot catch up and receive immediate feedback for certain discussions in order to approximate real time discussions that also take place during a face-to-face interaction. These group chats for the lesson implementation can also be used during the post lesson reflection and discussion.
The Future Prospects of Online Lesson Study
With unexpected turn of events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the academic community must be able to carry out contingency measures that can address the hindrances brought about by the pandemic. The academic community must develop the infrastructure to implement online professional development programs to continuously upgrade teachers’ professional practice without compromising on the need for physical distancing as a public health measure to contain the spread of the disease. Using an online lesson study process can be best initiated among pre-service teachers to prepare them in future disruptive events such as this pandemic.  
Challenges must not be ignored even during these times that the teaching-learning process has been affected significantly by the global pandemic.  It seems likely that teachers and students may have reservations on using online learning as a teaching strategy and as a means for professional development.  In a survey of 9,500 faculty members and 40,000 college students, 73% of faculty members and 70% of students prefer face-to-face over online learning, but half of them are amenable to a blended learning environment (Koenig, 2019). Thus, instructional designers must be able to make online learning environments more user-friendly and accessible to both faculty members and students in order to address restrictions brought about by the pandemic.      

REFERENCES: 
Alshorman, B. A., & Bawaneh, A.K., (2018). Attitudes of faculty members and students towards the
use of learning management system in teaching and learning. The Turkish Online Journal of
Educational Technology. 17(3), 1-15.   

Cavus, N., Uzunboylu, H., Ibrahim, D. (2006). Combining collaborative learning with learning
management systems in teaching programming language. Paper presented at the 2nd
International Open and Distance Learning (IODL) Symposium (2006) Eski┼čehir, Turkey.

Koenig, R. (2019, December 11). Most students and faculty prefer face-to-face instruction,
EDUCAUSE survey finds EDSURGE

Suwannatthachote, P. & Tantrarungroj, P. (2012). How facebook connects students’ group work
Collaboration: A relationship between personal facebook usage and group engagement.
Creative Education, 3, 15-19. doi: 10.4236/ce.2012.38b004

Williams, D., & Whiting, A. (2016). Exploring the relationship between student engagement, Twitter,
And a learning management system: A study of undergraduate marketing students.
International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 28(3), 302-313.

Wright, C.R., Lopes, V., Montgomerie, C., Reju S., & Schmoller, S. (2014, April 21). Selecting a learning
management system: Advice from an academic perspective. EduCauseReview. Retrieved
from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2014/4/selecting-a-learning-management-system
-advice-from-an-academic-perspective


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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Collaborative Practitioner Inquiry: Perspectives on Lesson Study in the Philippines

by Sally B. Gutierez
This paper presents my perspectives on collaboration on the practitioner inquiry nature of lesson study that was conducted by a group of elementary school science teachers in the Philippines. Grounded on the conception that an effective professional development requires teachers’ opportunities and self-initiatives to work together, teachers’ collaboration with science education researchers shaped the teachers’ openness and shared leadership. Thus, as a team of science education researchers, we instituted a regular collaborative discussion on how to improve their inquiry-based lessons. In this activity, I personally focused my observation on how collaboration developed their sense of interdependency. Together with us, the various stages of their lesson planning included conceptualization, data gathering and analysis, interpretation of results—a series of processes which embraces the concept of learning by doing. Through interdependency, they enhanced their interactions and professional worth as their opinions were acknowledged in the collaborative inquiry.
During the conduct of lesson study, I can say that the strength of the teacher learning community can be attributed to the collective endeavor in the development of collective knowledge.This can be grounded on the shared environment where intellectual growth is highly regarded while maintaining mutual trust and respect for multiple perspectives. Teachers’ inquiry was supported by mentors who acted as co-learners or co-creators of knowledge for teaching (Beck & Kosnik, 2002). Inquiry-driven learning was established in a community that centered on personal practice which “involves a knowledge of teaching about teaching and a knowledge of learning about teaching and how the two influence one another” (Loughran, 2008, p. 1180).

Collaboration in lesson study, therefore, acknowledges the fact that teachers are also learners with diverse set of knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs; that they too needed advisers in order to optimize their learning process. Thus, creating a learning community consisting of a group of teachers with shared goals, can lead to a wider range of practitioner inquiry (van Es, 2012).  This can be extended to a collaborative reflection about theory and practice; the theory may come from experts, as well as their existing knowledge from pre-service teacher education and the practice may come from their daily routines and other issues about their day-to-day teaching experiences (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1999; Darling-Hammond & Sykes, 1999).

Teachers try-out collaboratively their inquiry-based lesson.
As a personal insight, as we and the teachers established equal roles, our shared reflections probed the collaborative understanding of their experiences for authentic learning from their own classrooms. Thus, providing a space to acknowledge their capabilities instead of creating a dichotomy of roles (as teachers and academic experts) can be a way to enrich their agency and effectiveness. In a decade of curriculum change in the Philippine education curriculum, much research is needed in empowering teachers to explore their own classrooms. Through collaborative lesson study, knowledge and practice can be aligned as educators gradually establish collegial interaction in a practitioner inquiry. Centered on lesson planning as the primary means of teacher collaborative activity and reflective practice, the consultation sessions assured the support and convergence of ideas and collective beliefs as potential routes to uplift the professionalism of teachers.

References
Beck, C., &Kosnik, C. (2002). Components of a good practicum placement: Student teachersperceptions. Teacher Education Quarterly, 29, 81-98.
Loughran, J. (2008). Toward a Better Understanding of Teaching and Learning about Teaching.In Handbook of Research on Teacher Education: Enduring Questions in ChangingContexts. 3rd ed., edited by M. Cochran-Smith, S. Feiman-Nemser, and J. McIntryre,1177–1182. New York: Routledge.
van Es, E. A. (2012). Examining the development of a teacher learning community: The case ofa video club. Teaching and Teacher Education, 28,182-192.doi:10.1016/j.tate.2011.09.005
Cochran-Smith, M., & Lytle, S. L. (1999). Relationships of knowledge and practice: Teacherlearning in communities. Review of Research in Education, 24, 249-305. doi:10.2307/1167272
Darling-Hammond, L., & Sykes, G. (Eds.). (1999). Teaching as the learning profession:Handbook of policy and practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

This paper was presented at the 2018 East-Asian Association of Science Education (EASE) Annual Conference held at National Dong Hwa University in Hualien Taiwan on 29 November to 02 December 2018.
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