9/9/13: Reflecting on Reflecting

During the early stages of learning a new skill or piece of information, I always like to take in as many views as possible. I recognize my mind has certain tendencies and limitations that might prevent me from understanding something fully, and what might be obvious for one person might never cross my mind. That’s why the lesson plan study we took part in was so beneficial. Listening to how others approached lesson planning helped to fill in some of the gaps I had. By reconciling my approach with those of my class mates, I gained a more holistic perspective.



Lesson Study Reflection: Share Out of Ideas!


Today in Ed Methods, we went over our Lesson Study assignment. Each person wrote their own plan on a topic they hope to teach in the future. We paired up based on similar topics, which was nice because we could see similarities and differences in our plans right away. Then we did a share out to the class so everyone could hear everyone’s ideas. It was a discussion-filled class for sure that did not need much prompting from the professor, which to me is a good sign (it means we are thinking!).

I really enjoyed that the lesson plans were all varied, ranging from world history to specific congressional roles in the U.S. It was interesting to see how much people varied their writing style. Some were super detailed on a specific lesson for one day, while others did a broad scope on a unit. What I did notice that almost everyone’s lesson dealt with the (sometimes-daunting) Work Sample. I think it is okay that everyone zoned in on that, it shows that we are excited and wanting to prepare for it.

The discussion of the lesson plans was almost more beneficial than the writing of the plans actually. It was quite funny because while I was writing my plan, I kept thinking how I wished someone was near me so I could bounce ideas off of them. Then I get to class and I have eleven colleagues throwing ideas and suggestions at me! It was great!

At times, the sharing felt like a long process though. It was hard at certain times to see how someone else’s lesson related to mine. I also noticed that people struggled to give concise summaries of their plans (I included!). I think it is because we are all educators at heart and educators just seem to be a bit more longwinded. We want to make sure everyone is clear on what we are saying which means a detailed explanation, of course. Other than the summaries though, I think we had a great higher-level discussion. It is so beneficial to talk with our peers because we understand both theory and classroom reality, and can therefore give more detailed feedback. The feedback was not simply “that sounds like a fun activity.” Instead, the feedback went deeper by discussing how students will probably respond and potential speed bumps that could occur.

This assignment allowed me to gain some good ideas from my peers on activities to try in my future career. I especially like it when people share their simulation ideas because I am big on simulations in classrooms. To me, lectures and simulations are a great way to solidify knowledge.

Before class was even out, I found myself contemplating how I could do the assignment differently next time. I know I want to be more specific next time, picking a specific lesson instead of an overarching unit. Discussing the unit was helpful because it gave me a direction to head in, but now I am ready to figure out the specifics and start to lay down actual plans to carry out. I also want to be more mindful of including formative assessments because I noticed many of our lessons did not include much of either kind of assessments (formative & summative). Sometimes assessments (especially formative) are the hardest to create because it is difficult to boil down a whole lesson into a specific (and usually brief) summation/quiz. I know they are just check-ups on student learning but I still struggle to find specific things to gauge their processing of the new information.

Overall, I am feeling more ready for lesson planning in the future!

Photo cred: StefCooke on http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/keep-calm-and-write-a-lesson-plan/

Lesson Study Reflection

letters home

Note: to see student responses to this assignment click on the Lesson Study category

Write a reflection on the experience of using the lesson study format to look at your lesson and share your ideas with your classmates. Here are three perspectives that may be useful for reflecting on the experience.

Note: You do not have to write on all three – these are merely suggestions to help get you started. Make this work for you.

  1. The model: Is this “Lesson Study” format useful? Did it help you to better understand your lesson and peers’ lessons? Did the process yield any useful improvements in your lesson? How can we improve the model for the next round of lesson study?
  2. Working with peers: What’s our capacity as educators to discuss key elements of a lesson? Did we see lessons in the same way? Did we share useful feedback?
  3. Big Picture: What does this activity tells us about kinds of tasks students are being asked to do? Do you see any patterns in our classes collection of lessons?

Blogging schedule:

  1. Blog your reaction to Lesson Study I as a post by  11PM Thursday 9/12.
  2. Comment on at least 2 other posts by 11PM Saturday 9/14. (Note: I will be leaving  comments as well.)
  3. Follow up on 1 comment to your post with your own reply by 11PM Sunday 9/15.

This is your first graded assignment. Evaluations will be based on:

  • Completion of full blogging assignment by the due dates above. Each step builds on the previous. Let’s not fall behind.
  • The quality of the reflection. Does it simply narrate the experience or does it recognize patterns, evaluate lessons learned or set new goals. See my Taxonomy of Reflection for more on higher and lower order reflection.
  • Do comments demonstrate a close reading of their peer’s post and serve to offer useful feedback, constructive criticism and / or to advance the dialogue.

Image credit: Smithsonian Institution A.2006-99
Description: Soldiers stationed at Fort Upton (New York) shown taking the time to write letters home, as suggested by a large banner on the room wall.
Creator/Photographer: Unidentified photographer
Date: 1918
Collection: U.S. Postal Employees
Repository: National Postal Museum

Class 3: Using the Lesson Study Process

Our third class is comprised of three segments:

  • Task 1. I’ll be showing you a sample lesson I created as an interactive iBook. “Progress and Poverty in Industrial America.” Free at iTunes I want to demonstrate how I used the lesson study to plan the book and introduce you to what you can create with iBooks author. (I have a cart of iPads coming in).
  • Task 2: Give you time to use your lesson study to offer each other feedback on an upcoming lesson you will teach in your placement. See Lesson Study Assignment (41 KB pdf) given out at Class 2
  • Task 3. Get you set up on WordPress – your assignment this week takes the form of a blog post.

To see students’ reflections on Lesson Study click Lesson Study 1 Category

Here’s a sample “Lesson Study” based on my iBook “Progress and Poverty in Industrial America.”

Content – I have three goals for this iBook lesson:

  1. To study the industrial era of late 19th century US Use an essential question (EQ) that is still relevant to students: “How do we evaluate the social costs and benefits of technological innovations?”
  2. I want students to think about the impact of contemporary technological changes on peoples’ lives. 
  3. Guide students through the historian’s process with Common Core style prompts

Progress and Poverty in Industrial America-coverProcess – I begin by posing the essential question (then to make the question relevant to students) I offer a brief examination of the impact of 21st c technologies / global economy on progress and poverty in contemporary America. I’ve gathered a short collection of historic documents – some text, but also photographs, posters and an early Edison film. Instead of explaining the documents to the students, I have minimal explanation, with short guiding questions to help the students think about the documents and ultimately the essential question.

Product – I left this rather open ended since I published it on iTunes and I don’t intend to be there to deliver the lesson. But in the introduction, I do include a series of possible activities that teachers might utilize.

Evaluation – I did not include a formal assessment in this iBook. (If used by a teacher, I’ll let them figure it out). But at the reader level I do have a series of reflective questions for students related to content goals (the late 19th c industrialization, essential question, and process of historical thinking.)

What kinds of thinking will students need to do to participate in the lesson? For the most part its all higher level thinking (analysis and evaluation) I have many documents with opposing viewpoints on the impact of industrialization. The guiding questions ask student to compare (analysis) and evaluate.

To what extent do students have options or choices regarding these lesson components? I choose all the content. No student choice there. While I offer suggestions for how to look at the documents, there is no specific process or product. So there is a chance for student input. The material lends itself to a debate format, though students might simply use the content to form their own opinions about the EQ. That’s their own personal “evaluation “ of the question.