A lot of [U.S.] schools develop mission statements, but we don’t do anything with them. The mission statements get put in a drawer and then teachers become cynical…Lesson Study gives guts to a mission statement, makes it real, and brings it to life.

—Cindy Ann Black, U.S. educator

Bring Your School’s Vision to Life

School-wide Lesson Study supports teachers to “give guts” to a school vision – to test out, share, and refine the practices needed to make it real and bring it to life.

Teachers at Highlands Elementary School, in California, wanted to reduce the achievement gap at their school and to better support all students to develop as writers. Their Lesson Study work alternated whole-school professional learning sessions with Lesson Study cycles conducted by grade-level teams. Their whole-school sessions included discussion of shared readings and demos of new strategies for teaching writing by outside literacy specialists. As Lesson Study teams tried out ideas from the school-wide sessions and observed and discussed student responses, Highlands teachers were able to build a shared repertoire of strategies to reach all their students, including struggling writers.

At Matsuzawa Elementary School, in Tokyo, educators wanted students to learn mathematics through problem-solving and wanted “students [to] explain their ideas to each other and learn from each other.” Using knowledge from teachers at the school and from outside specialists and research, Matsuzawa educators built shared tools that helped them observe and improve instruction–for example, a set of effective teacher questions for each phase of a problem-solving lesson, and a set of “look-fors” in student discussion. A tile at the bottom of the page provides more information on the work of the Matsuzawa educators. A tile at the bottom of the page provides more information on the work of the Matsuzawa educators.

At Dr. Jorge Prieto Math and Science Academy, educators have focused their School-wide Lesson Study on nurturing students who make sense of mathematics problems and persevere in solving them. The fishbone diagram below captures the instructional elements they see as essential to their goal. Over their years of School-wide Lesson Study, they have used research, outside specialists, and their own careful observation of research lessons to help them learn about these elements and build them in their classrooms. The fishbone is a work in progress, which captures what they are learning as they test and refine classroom practices designed to nurture students’ mathematical sense-making and perseverance. You can see video clips here showing how students from this school make sense of mathematics problems and persevere in solving them.