The district needed to improve its process for review and selection of new mathematics materials to support existing curriculum at the middle school level.
This intervention called for a series of comprehensive educational improvement competencies, including research and development, a need for effective professional development, and program evaluation to do the following:
The professional staff from Learning Point Associate and district staff codesigned a process using criteria that met the state's requirements as well as the No Child Left Behind requirements for research-based design. The exploration process, based on the major areas of change from traditional to standards-based programs and materials, focused on the following four sessions:
Teachers demonstrated a capacity and willingness to cocreate tools and templates, discuss critical issues with colleagues, make the materials selection, and dialog for future professional development. School leaders are taking steps to sustain these efforts, such as providing a full set of all materials (including manipulatives) for each teacher and each class, revising schedules to allow for more time for integrating new skills and knowledge, providing technical support to schools, and providing summer professional development and sustained professional development throughout the school year.
Many of Detroit's middle school mathematics teachers are in the early years of their careers, teaching without a full credential, and/or teaching with limited mathematics background. The district wanted to address both mathematical content knowledge and the classroom methods needed to teach effectively to ensure student learning.
Lesson Study was selected by Detroit to provide teachers help with collaborative planning, teaching and observing, analytic reflection, and ongoing revision of professional practice focused on student learning.
The professional staff from Learning Point Associate and district staff codesigned a process to engage a small group of middle school mathematics teachers in Lesson Study while simultaneously preparing the teachers to eventually facilitate additional Lesson Study teams.
The sessions included the following:
Initially, five middle school mathematics teachers from four different schools composed the first Lesson Study team. After two complete cycles of Lesson Study, the original team split into two teams and new members were added and another cycle was conducted in the summer of 2004. In November 2004, the two teams split into four teams, added new teams, and began a new cycle. During the current school year, the number of teams continues to expand under the guidance of project partner Dr. Joanne Caniglia, professor of mathematics at Eastern Michigan University. The Michigan Department of Education has provided grant dollars for release time, teacher stipends, and other expenses related to Lesson Study implementation.
To date, Detroit classroom records of student progress on materials covered by Lesson Study lessons indicate higher test scores compared to classes who had not received lessons prepared through Lesson Study. Questionnaires and interview data indicate growth by all participating Detroit teachers in the original cohort.
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