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Supporting the Effective Implementation of a New Mathematics Curriculum

How Japanese teachers and administrators in a public school work collaboratively to implement the new curriculum through lesson study, and identifies elements that seem important for connecting the curriculum, teachers, and teaching.
by

Akihiko Takahashi

on 27 May 2014

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Transcript of Supporting the Effective Implementation of a New Mathematics Curriculum

Four Major Findings
Supporting the Effective Implementation of a New Mathematics Curriculum:A case study of school-based lesson study at a Japanese public elementary school
by Akihiko TAKAHASHI, Ph.D.
Shared leadership
Pathways of new knowledge and ideas
Collaborative structure to support teacher learning and growth
The value of Lesson Study
Lesson study has been described as “teacher-led professional development.” In this school-based LS project, teachers led the way by developing research lessons in which they proposed and tested strategies for solving common problems. Teachers also took turns handling the logistics of their colleagues’ research lessons by facilitating the discussion or taking notes. But important leadership also came from the administration and from the RSC, sometimes “behind the scenes” and sometimes overtly
The main way teachers develop their understanding of the content they teach is through kyozaikenkyu, the careful study of materials for teaching. But some teachers are not accustomed to practicing careful kyozaikenkyu. From the administrators’ perspective, an important long-term outcome of the school research project would be that teachers would conduct rich kyozaikenkyu when preparing their everyday lessons. Thus the planning of the research lessons, the teaching of the lessons, and the post-lesson discussions were not just about the issues explicitly addressed in those lessons, but were also about providing teachers with experiences that would improve their everyday kyozaikenkyu and lead to better teaching overall.
As is often done, this school used their existing grade-level groups for research lesson development and as the core of the research project. In addition, the school added the grade-band teams and the RSC as additional structures for better communication throughout the school. The grade-band teams leveraged the limited number of experienced teachers at the school, providing all teachers access to the knowledge of those experienced teachers when designing lesson plans.
The research lessons, the core activity of lesson study, are a particularly visible feature of school-based lesson study, but other features are important for supporting steady progress toward implementing the COS. The school has to have a long-term, well-planned timetable for the school research, a structure to support teacher collaboration, and pathways to bring updated knowledge of the curriculum and key ideas for its implementation.The school used lesson study as the fundamental process for addressing the challenges of implementing the new COS. It is worth considering what can be learned about lesson study itself from this project.
Takahashi, A. (2014). Supporting the Effective Implementation of a New Mathematics Curriculum: A case study of school-based lesson study at a Japanese public elementary school. In Y. Li & G. Lappan (Eds.), Mathematics curriculum in school education. New York: Springer
Research lesson and post-lesson discussion: “angles” by the grade 4 team
Demonstration lesson by an invited teacher to raise issues related to the theme and school research focus
Research lesson and post-lesson discussion: “division” by the grade 3 team
April 9
Faculty meeting to discuss and approve the theme of the school-based lesson study
2002
(During summer break)
Grade band meetings for developing lesson plans for the public research lessons at the public open house
Research lesson and post-lesson discussion: “multiplication of decimal numbers” by the grade 5 team
April 6
May 11
April 20
April 27
April 8
June 23
Lecture by a leading math educator
Faculty meeting to discuss and approve the modified theme of the school-based lesson study and set the schedule of research activities
Workshop by a leading math educator about effective lesson observation
Research lesson and post-lesson discussion: “symmetry” by the grade 6 team
May 18
June 13
June 21
August 27
Aug 26
September 22
September 14
October 27
November 24
November 30
December 1
January 26
February 16
Research lesson and post-lesson discussion: “various lengths” for a class of special needs students
June 16
Research lesson and post lesson discussion: “subtraction (1)” by the grade 1 team
Research lesson and post-lesson discussion: “subtraction” by the grade 1 team
(During summer break)
A lecture by a leading math educator on the school research theme
Research lesson and post-lesson discussion: “area” by the grade 4 team
Research lesson and post-lesson discussion: mathematics for students with special needs by the special needs team
Research lesson and post lesson discussion: “enlarged and reduced drawings” by the grade 6 team
Research lesson and post-lesson discussion: “multiples and factors” by the grade 5 team
Research lesson and post-lesson discussion: “addition and subtraction (2)” by the grade 2 team
Research lesson and post-lesson discussion: “math sentences using symbol of unknown” by the grade 3 team
Research lesson and post-lesson discussion: “addition and subtraction” by the grade 2 team
Public open house
May 19
Year 1
Year 2
The RSC comprised a teacher from each grade group, nominated by that group, and a chairperson appointed by the school administrators.
The chair led the RSC to complete the following tasks:
Communicate regularly with the principal and the assistant principal to develop a master plan for the school research that included the effective use of resources including time and budget
Schedule and lead the monthly RSC meetings to find strategies to address the theme of the research based on the ideas of the teachers
Lead the preparations and oversee each school research activity such as research lessons and lectures
Publish a monthly internal newsletter to update the findings of each research lesson and to share important ideas and information for carrying out research activities
Plan, edit, and publish the school research reports, including the publication for the open house
Communicate with knowledgeable others for the effective use of their expertise.
The Role of the School's Research Steering Committee(RSC)
An example of preparing a research lesson
1) Decide on the topic of the research lesson and who will teach the lesson. Develop a rough idea of a lesson plan and conduct kyozaikenkyu related to the topic.

2) Three weeks before the research lesson: The first lesson-planning meeting is held to discuss the rough draft to check for consistency with other grade groups’ approaches.

3) Develop the first draft of the lesson plan based on the discussion at the first meeting.

4) Two weeks before the research lesson: The second lesson-planning meeting is held to discuss the lesson plan and the team’s focus strategies.

5) Update the draft lesson plan and the focus strategies.

6) One week before the research lesson: Finalize the lesson plan and send it to the invited final commentator of the research lesson (the knowledgeable other) via express mail, including a handwritten letter by the teacher who will teach the lesson.

7) Print the lesson plan. Share the tasks needed to prepare for the research lesson, including the preparation of materials such as manipulatives, posters, and worksheets.

8) On the day of the research lesson: Conduct the research lesson and the post-lesson discussion. Support the teacher who teaches the research lesson.

Note: Although each grade group is mainly responsible for the preparation and execution of its lesson, the above preparations should be done through the grade band team’s collaboration.
RSC developed the following list of criteria for lesson plans and distributed it to each teacher at the beginning of the year 2:
Does the lesson plan provide sufficient information for the reader to understand the task and the flow of the lesson?
Does the lesson plan provide sufficient information about how the planning team decided to teach the lesson as described by the plan?
Do the objectives of the lesson plan clearly address the COS?
Are the tasks appropriate for the students given the date of the lesson?
Are the key questions clear?
Will they push students to think mathematically and help them complete the task independently?
Does the lesson plan include reasonable anticipated student responses and indicate how the teachers will help students overcome any misunderstandings?
Does the lesson plan include a plan for formative assessment and a plan to accommodate individual student differences during the lesson?
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