US School, Japanese Methods

By Marjorie Coeyman, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, May 23, 2000 | Go to article overview

US School, Japanese Methods


Marjorie Coeyman, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Something exciting is happening at School 2 in Paterson, N.J. Students are starting to understand math concepts.

In 1998, at the end of the first year of an experiment in math education, eighth-graders at this struggling school saw their scores on standardized math tests jump 20 percent. Not only that, but their pass rate was 77 percent - much closer to the statewide pass rate of 86 percent. Scores from 1999 were similar.

Teachers are also making strides. "It's changed the way I feel about teaching," says 20-year veteran Beverly Piekema. Students are "articulating concepts in ways I never thought they'd be able to."

It's encouraging feedback just a year after School 2 adopted a new approach to math. What makes it particularly remarkable is that School 2 is taking its cues from Japan.

It all started when William Jackson, an eighth-grade math teacher, and Lynn Liptak, the school's principal, attended a workshop on the Third International Mathematics and Science Study in the spring of 1997. They saw videotapes of Japanese teachers engaging their students in lively and substantive math classes.

Both were intrigued. They knew Japanese students routinely outperformed US students, and now they saw evidence that something quite powerful took place in Japanese math classrooms. Both wondered why it couldn't happen here.

They weren't the first to ask that question. But Mr. Jackson and Ms. Liptak have been among the few US educators to put Japanese ideas to the test. Although the Japanese scores on TIMSS excited much interest in the US, as did the videotapes of Japanese math classes, most teachers and administrators have found the cultural differences between the two systems are a barrier to implementation.

But School 2 - a low performer, even in the context of a failing district - was clearly in need of new ideas. Principal Liptak was brought in specifically to engineer a turnaround. When Jackson told her he'd like to consider melding the Japanese math curriculum with the New Jersey state standards to create a new program, she encouraged him.

Jackson began "reading everything [he] could find" on Japanese math education. That summer, he and Liptak rewrote the school's eighth-grade math curriculum. They worked to devise lessons that would focus more on increasing student understanding, incorporating what they saw on the videotapes.

Basically, Japanese math teachers begin by presenting students with a problem. In groups, the kids search for a solution. Each group then presents ways of solving the problem. Methods are compared, and then the class reaches consensus as to the best solution.

Related activities are assigned, and the class is summarized. Japanese teachers also rely on visual aids and manipulatives. Jackson worked to integrate all these strategies.

Another essential part of the program was their decision to adopt "lesson study" - the Japanese practice of requiring teachers to continually critique, review, and revise lesson plans as a group. They even enlisted the support of Japanese teachers from a Japanese school in Connecticut to make sure they were practicing lesson study correctly.

The results of these efforts have been quietly impressive.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

US School, Japanese Methods
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.