Over the summer, I wrote about collaboration and its power to help us learn. One of the things I have noticed about our faculty laptop program is that the place where real innovation happens is when we have a group of fellows who have similar interests (department, grade level, etc.) have a clear goal and collaborate to achieve this goal. This year it’s most aparent in our K-3 faculty who have a weekly Tablet user workshop. This time is spent learning new software, sharing ideas, and discussing how to use them in class. These faculty are using their tablets as anecdotal recording devices so when it comes to giving students feedback and evaluation (which should be often – even at the lower school level), they have a running record. By collaborating on this project, they have revived a conversation about the importance of documentation and evaluation, a clear curricular goal. They are using Microsoft OneNote where they can post inages, text (typed or written), audio and video content.
A few weeks ago, I was invited to participate in Lesson Study with our Math Department. Lesson study is a method of teacher professional development, widely used in Japan, where faculty defne a learning goal, define the skills and content required before and after the lesson, design the lesson, observe the lessonbeing taught, collaborating on how to make the lesson better, and thenteach the lesson again to see the results.
As I sat through the first session last week, my mind jumped to the small groups of laptop teachers with whom I am working. I thought, “these small groups could tie in to a technology lesson and collaborate to design a lesson that has a curricular goal, but uses technology to enhance it.” By working as a group, many of the bases that one teacher would miss would be hit. There is also the support structure to allow faculty to do their lesson for the first time. Much as the K-3 table group had done.
In Lesson Study, the product is not the point. The learning along the way is the point. Just as we hope learning in the classroom will be (or at least I do). To come out with a well designed lesson at the end, but the core participants have gone through the process of thinking about teaching and learning in a very intense way, giving them insight into their own teaching and learning – and the teaching and learning of their students. Useful information that they can apply in the classroom the next day.
Activity leads to learning, and that is why writing is so powerful. I blog because when I think of ideas like these, writing helps to make connections and solidify them. I think the process of Lesson Study will influence my professional development for the rest of my life. Thanks to the Math Department for inviting me to participate.
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