Glossary of Lesson Study Terms
Please keep in mind that these terms assume real meaning through the actual practice of lesson study. These definitions provide a starting point, but they only begin to explain this complex interactive process. Just as a lesson study goal may be defined by teachers who intend to use it as a guide for the lesson-study process, the definition also changes and evolves as they put it into practice.
We hope that these definitions will provoke teachers to further explore the meanings and to engage in discussion of these terms in actual lesson-study setting.
- Knowledgeable other
- Lesson study
- Lesson study cycle
- Lesson study goal
- Observations and debriefing sessions
- Open house
- Research lesson
- Research lesson plan template
- (School-wide) research theme
Japanese for "lesson study."
2. Knowledgeable other
A knowledgeable other is a person outside of the school who is invited to help guide and support the lesson study process. The knowledgeable other is someone who has expertise in the subject matter and/or in the lesson study process. The success of lesson study depends on how effectively teachers can develop a community of learners; a knowledgeable other needs to understand what the community wants or needs to know. A knowledgeable other helps all participants to grow together as a part of a group. An authoritative approach is not appropriate for this role.
Characteristics of an effective knowledgeable other are described in the Lesson Study Conference 2002 paper The Role of Knowledgeable Others .
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Japanese for "in-school" or "school-based"; used in context of a school-wide research theme .
Japanese for "investigation of instructional materials," which encompasses not just textbooks, teacher manuals, and mathematics manipulatives, but a wider range of materials, including the course of study, the educational content, learning goals, equipment, research and case study publications, lesson plans and reports from lesson study open houses, and ideas gained from research lesson observations. Kyozaikenkyu also includes investigation of students' prior knowledge, learning experiences, state of learning, and understanding, which makes it possible for teachers to be able to anticipate students' reactions and solutions to the problems students study during lessons.
5. Lesson study
Lesson study is a form of long-term professional development in which teams of teachers systematically and collaboratively conduct research closely tied to lessons, and then use what they learn about student thinking to become more effective instructors.
The term "lesson study," translated from the Japanese Jugyokenkyu, has led to the myth that it means studying and improving a lesson until it is perfect. Lesson study is a more comprehensive approach to professional development, in which revising and improving a lesson is one small part of the process; lesson study is also an ongoing process that develops teachers' habits of mind for continual self-reflection and improvement through collaboration.
6. Lesson study cycle
A lesson study cycle is a series of planned, concrete steps that take place over a year (or longer) by a team of teachers engaged in lesson study. This generally involves a group of teachers planning a lesson collaboratively under a research theme , implementing the lesson in a classroom, collecting observation data of the lesson, reflecting upon and discussing it, and developing a record of their activity through a lesson study process.
For more information, see question 2: "What can a lesson study cycle look like?" in Frequently Asked Questions.
7. Lesson study goal
A lesson study goal is based upon the research theme and is selected by the study group that is conducting a lesson study cycle in a particular grade level or subject area. The lesson study goal should be aligned with the whole-school research theme and mission statement. The research theme and lesson study goal should be the driving force behind all lesson study work. Focusing on a goal helps to develop and provide systematic, coherent, and consistent education for all students.
The Lesson Study Conference 2002 paper Reflections on Implementing Lesson Study in the United States: "Incidental" versus "Purposeful" Learning illustrates the importance of setting a lesson study goal.
8. Observations and debriefing sessions
After a team writes a research lesson, one member volunteers to teach the lesson while other team members observe and collect data. It is common practice to invite other teachers from throughout the school to observe as well. To ensure that useful data are collected, observers are provided with explicit instructions on what to study during the lesson. A debriefing session occurs right after (or the same day as) the teaching/observing of the research lesson. Observers discuss the data they collected as they relate to student learning and the lesson study goal. Comments and questions are focused by the facilitator on the lesson's effectiveness and student learning-not on teaching style.
For more information, view the RBS Currents article Guidelines for Lesson Observations and Debriefings .
9. Open house
A school and its partners can organize an open house to: (1) share its lesson study process with others outside the school; and (2) receive helpful suggestions and opinions for a hypothesis and rationale of the research lessons that have been developed through lesson study activities. It should not be used to showcase research lessons, but instead to learn from the feedback of the observers. Opening up lessons to the public can be an excellent source of honest opinions or suggestions for the hypothesis and rationale developed through the course of lesson study.
An open house usually consists of participants observing and discussing several concurrent research lessons (usually for different grade levels) in separate classrooms, as well as one public lesson that all participants observe and discuss in the same room. Prior to the research lessons, the study group should instruct the invited observers on what to look for so that the debriefing sessions stay focused on student learning. All observers are invited to comment. Open houses often take place on in-service days, so arrangements must be made for the participating students to come to school for part of the day.
10. Research lesson
A research lesson, also commonly referred to as a "study lesson," is the lesson that is team-written, taught in the presence of observing colleagues, discussed during the debriefing session, revised, retaught, and reported.
The Lesson Study Conference 2002 research lessons help to reveal the level of detail that lesson study groups examine when writing a research lesson.
11. Research lesson plan template
A research lesson plan template can be constructed in a three-column format, with the first column listing the detailed steps of the lesson accompanied by learning activities (with estimated time allotted for each activity), the teacher's questions, and anticipated student responses. The second column describes the teacher's support activities during the lesson. The third column provides the ongoing assessment occurring throughout the lesson. To facilitate note taking by the outside observers, a student seating chart is attached to the lesson plan. Frequently a summary of the blackboard organization is provided to help the teacher plan what will go up on the board.
The Lesson Study Conference 2002 paper Planning and Writing a Research Lesson offers more detailed information on a research lesson plan template.
12. (School-wide) research theme
A research theme is selected by the entire staff in the case of a school-based (konaikenshu) lesson study setting. The theme is generally broad in nature and is decided by identifying ideal student characteristics, discussing the school's student characteristics, and then writing a theme that helps to bridge the gap between the ideal and actual. It should be aligned with the school's mission statement and serve as the driving force behind all lesson study work. Focusing on a school-wide research theme helps to develop and provide systematic, coherent, and consistent education for all students across all grade levels.
The Lesson Study Conference 2002 papers Overview of Lesson Study in Japan and Whole-School Lesson Study as the Basis for Whole-School Research describe the process of writing a research theme.