Lesson Study: A Japanese Approach to Improving Mathematics Teaching and Learning

By Clea Fernandez; Makoto Yoshida | Go to book overview

8
Teaching the Study Lesson

Ms. Nishi taught the study lesson to her class of 20 students (11 boys and 9 girls) during the third period, from 10:35 a.m. to 11:20 a.m., on Monday, November 15. This was the first time for Ms. Nishi, a first-year teacher, to teach a study lesson in front of other teachers at this school. She later recalled that she had been very nervous the day before this public teaching. Five minutes before the lesson began all the teachers at the school, as well as the principal and the vice-principal, showed up at Ms. Nishi's classroom with their copies of the lesson plan in hand. Many of the teachers recorded their observations directly onto this lesson plan, which they had attached to a clipboard to make writing while standing in the classroom more manageable.

All students at the school were left alone with assignments for them to complete while their teachers observed the study lesson. Some of the teachers asked their students to complete worksheets or to do a few pages from privately published exercise books, and others had the students work on art projects. In all cases, a class president and vice-president (gakkyuiin and kyucho) or two students on day duty (nicchoku) were assigned to monitor their classmates. Not one of these teachers had to leave Ms. Nishi's class to check on his or her students. In fact, during the 10 study lessons that Yoshida observed in the 1993–1994 school year, no teacher ever left the classroom and in only two cases did a student come to the classroom to consult with a teacher about how to manage his or her classmates. In both instances the student wanted to know what to do with classmates who had finished all the assigned work they were given.

Ms. Nishi's classroom (see Fig. 8.1) was typical of elementary school classrooms in Japan and resembled both those Yoshida visited in the Hiroshima area as a researcher and the ones he had attended as a child almost 30 years prior.

The only noteworthy difference was that the students' desks in Ms. Nishi's class were arranged in a U-shape, which is relatively unusual for a Japanese elementary school. According to Ms. Furumoto, this desk arrangement was adopted in the 1992–1993 school year in order to try to pro

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