Saturday, February 19, 2011

Open Lesson at Junior High School Attached to Tsukuba University

I had a chance to teach a reserach lesson in a Japanese junior high school. It was for a graduating class waiting to sit for their final examinations next week. Thus, I chose a general problem that allows for review of several concepts.

The problem was to use the geoboard to form polygons with (a) no dots inside the polygon and (b) 4 dots on the sides of the polygon. The ideas was to find how the area is related to the number of dots in both cases with the hope that some students will make a conjecture for the general relationship. Would they try to find a proof too?

The lesson went through four parts. Part 1 involved students finding the area of a 5 square unit square. This introduces students to the key variables, area, x and y where x is the number of dots inside the polygon and y is the number of dots on the perimeter. Part 2 involved a problem shown in the photograph - draw a polygon with no dots inside the polygon. This is a platform for students to look for some relationship involving area. Part 3 is another problem - draw a polygon with 4 dots on the perimeter. This was the point where one student gave a general relationship involving area (S), x and y. I ended the lesson by asking students to find cases that does not satisfy the general relationship given. One girl did and I urged the class to check if the girl was right and to find other figures where the relationship does not hold.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lesson Study Open House Elementary School Attached to Tsukuba University, Tokyo, Japan

The main problem is to find the masses of chocolate of different shapes (all have the same thickness). The square piece weighs 400g.

The first two shapes given (1) and (2) were triangle (obviously half) and square (less obvious that it is half).

The last problems were (3) and (4). Do you see how the two are related?

I was fortunate to participate in the open house. This research lesson is for grade five and was attended by thousands of teachers from all over Japan.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Open Lesson Da Qiao Primary School

The open lesson on primary five fractions for a remedial class was attended by teachers from the schools as well as guests from Pathlight School, a Chilean teacher who is in Singapore to learn more about Singapore Math and the executive director of CME Group Foundation in Chicago.

The lesson was designed to facilitate authentic professional learning related to students who struggle. What are their major weaknesses? How can they be helped?

One key point that emerge during the lesson is how fast such students arrive at their (often incorrect) responses. During the lesson I tried to get students to talk to each other and using materials to facilitate their talking. I noticed that some students arrive at improved responses after they were allowed to talk more. Sometimes, the correct themselves. Sometimes they evoke prior learning. Sometimes they became (reluctantly) convinced by their friends' explanations.

Such students do need to cultivate a habit of deeper thinking. When hat becomes a habit, things will fall in place.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lesson Study on Philosophy

Raffles Institution decided to modify the lesson study process for their teacher mentoring process. I work with a team of teachers teaching philosophy (this is not a common subject in Singapore schools). Three of them including a new teacher and two others with significant experience in teaching the subject.

I started the session by getting the team members to identify their professional learning goals. One of them wanted to learn if the lesson are at the right level for the students. Another wanted to explore more student-centred ways to teach the subject and yet another wanted to learn more about ways to assess students during the lesson in formative ways.

Generally, the discussion was based on the lesson planned, getting the team members to think about if the lessons were able to achieve what it set out to achieve.

I will write more after the research lesson and post-lesson discussion. The discussion video will later be used to provide professional development of senior teachers who are mentors to new teachers.


This is the website for World Association of Lesson Studies 2011 in Japan.

See the latest program on the website.

WALS2012 will be in Singapore.