How Can Public Research Lessons Improve Teaching Across a District, Region or Nation?
Researchers note that many good instructional ideas developed in the U.S. have been taken up by Japanese educators and spread more rapidly in Japan than in the U.S. Public research lessons are one big reason why.
Imagine if you were to attend a national conference of science teachers or language arts teachers and fan out to schools in the destination city, rather than heading for a hotel. At the schools, you would observe and discuss research lessons designed to bring to life the organization’s vision of teaching mathematics (or language arts, science, etc.). In addition to conducting research lessons and post-lesson discussions, the schools would provide written research plans (including lesson and unit plans), tools from their work to improve instruction, and a chance to hear distinguished final commentators (for example, authors of standards and creators of major innovations) comment on the lessons. You would have the chance to see students in action and ask their teachers how they built classroom routines and practices that interest you.
At the San Francisco elementary school whose Open House pre-lesson discussion is linked above, teachers are pioneering “Teaching Through Problem-solving.” When visitors saw this vision of student learning in action, many were inspired to begin changing their own instruction. One visitor said, “I saw the student mathematics journals, tried them the next day in my classroom, and have never stopped.”