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New Book Guides Educators Through Lesson Study Process

Authors Focus on Team-Based Approach to Enhance Teaching and Learning

December 21, 2006

A new book being released today and coauthored by two senior staff members at Learning Point Associates offers teachers a comprehensive guide to implementing Lesson Study, a team-based approach to professional learning that originated in Japan.

Leading Lesson Study: A Practical Guide for Teachers and Facilitators–published by Corwin Press in association with Learning Point Associates and the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory–offers strategies, tools, and examples to help educators learn this new approach to professional learning. Two of the authors, Gary Appel and Mark Mitchell, have extensive experience facilitating workshops on Lesson Study for Learning Point Associates.

Using Lesson Study, teachers work together to develop a lesson plan on an aspect of their curriculum that is hard to teach and difficult for students to understand and then teach and observe the lesson, using their observations to collaboratively refine the lesson. The process leads teachers to learn more about effective teaching practices, which in turn results in increased student learning. While the process may sound simple, the five coauthors say teachers using Lesson Study face a number of challenges, including changing old models of professional development and organizing schools into places where teachers can learn together.

"Learning Point Associates has been introducing Lesson Study to schools for the past seven years to encourage teachers to engage in more effective practices that can lead to better teaching and better learning," said Gina Burkhardt, Chief Executive Officer of Learning Point Associates. "We are pleased to share what we have learned from implementing this process in districts across the country and are proud that these schools and teachers are featured in the book."

The book offers a step-by-step account of the Lesson Study process, the tools to support it, and real-life examples from a team of Detroit teachers and others who have worked to adapt Japanese Lesson Study into the reality of U.S. schools. "Leading Lesson Study is the first book to share the stories of teachers' Lesson Study experiences in urban, suburban, and rural schools across the United States," said Appel, who previously worked for the Michigan Department of Education as a professional development coordinator. "Our extensive work helping teachers conduct Lesson Study grounds this book in the real world of the classroom."

Leading Lesson Study is an excellent resource to those new to this approach to professional learning as well as those schools that started the process with the help of a technical assistance provider. "Our experience working with and facilitating diverse Lesson Study groups has generated very practical tools and strategies as well as stories of practice that are woven into the book," said Mitchell. "The process of Lesson Study–when implemented and refined over time–can lead to a collaborative, vibrant teaching and learning environment in schools."

Appel and Mitchell currently serve as state managers for the Great Lakes East Comprehensive Assistance Center at Learning Point Associates and both helped create and write Lesson Study instructional materials, facilitator's guides, videos, and handouts. Their book may be purchased online (www.corwinpress.com/booksProdDesc.nav?prodId=Book228390).

Reviews of Leading Lesson Study: A Practical Guide for Teachers and Facilitators (courtesy of Corwin Press):

"A powerful teacher professional development process that focuses collaborative teams directly on the classroom, and the perfect tool for teachers, professional developers and team leaders. Gives you everything you need to use lesson study to support teachers in thinking deeply about practice. I can't wait to start using Leading Lesson Study with the science teachers I work with!" –Roberta Jaffe, Science Education Coordinator, New Teacher Center at the University of California

"Guides educational leaders in creating successful Lesson Study in American schools. The authors provide readers with a compelling rationale for the process, offer experience-tested tools, and suggest ways to address commonly-occurring challenges. This book will assist teachers, and those who support them, in understanding and implementing all phases of Lesson Study, from initial planning through sharing with others what was learned."–Dennis Sparks, National Staff Development Council Executive Director

"Rightly argues that the quality of education can be better enhanced through the powerful and practical learning inherent in well-done Lesson Study than ‘teacher-proofing' and other attempts to change the surface features of schools. Teachers need to help set the agenda for learning that is focused on the problems of their classrooms, have an opportunity to collaborate, and observe why lessons do or do not work in order to improve student learning. No process affords a more comprehensive and powerful learning opportunity than Lesson Study." –Alice Gill, Associate Director, Educational Issues Department, American Federation of Teachers

About Learning Point Associates
Learning Point Associates is a nonprofit educational organization with more than 20 years of direct experience working with and for educators and policymakers to transform education systems and student learning. Our vision is an education system that works for all learners, and our mission is to deliver the knowledge, strategies, and results to help educators and policymakers make research-based decisions that produce sustained improvement.

Learning Point Associates manages a diversified portfolio of work ranging from direct consulting assignments to major federal contracts and grants. Our professional staff of 150 continues to grow as our work expands both nationally and internationally with offices in Naperville, Illinois; Chicago; and Washington, D.C. Since 1984, Learning Point Associates has operated the regional educational laboratory serving the Midwest—initially known as the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory® (NCREL®) and now known as REL Midwest.

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