I have always been a ‘fly by the seat kind of guy’ so at first, the concept of a lesson study seemed pointless to me. This viewpoint changed slightly however, once I realized how effective it was to have other people look over the lesson that you plan to teach.
Grouping up a fellow student who held a similar lesson was an incredibly informative experience, and I learned a number of things that would never have occured to me if I simply wrote up my lesson and then presented it. I plan on modifying my already existing lesson plan to include the tips and advice that was given to me during this time. Unfortunately, once we stopped our one on one meetings the overall concept began to drag. Far too much time was spent simply listening to other groups talking, and many times they were talking about lessons that had no common ground with my own, and while there was some discussion between multiple groups I feel as though there could have been more. One way this could have improved was to space out student presentations, or simply stop them after 5 or so minutes, that way we would not have been overwhelmed by what was going on.
I do think that working with peers is a very effective way to improve our lessons (as seen through my lesson improving during our one on one meetings) but I feel that working with peers, in the sense of an entire classroom, would have been much more effective if we were given a lesson before hand, made a lesson plan for that, and then discussed that all having something in common.
As an absolute overall, I think that this lesson gives a unique insight as to what many of us believe students should do, and while there are some that are more creative than others (tug of war for example) I believe that we are all desperately trying to convey history to our students in an active and engaging way that does not rely on simple and inane lecturing, One other aspect that comes to light due to this lesson is the dedication of each student teacher, it becomes obvious from listening each person speak that they put true effort into their study, and that is a very heartening pattern to see.
This week, our class focused on creating a ‘lesson study.’ Each lesson was supposed to relate to a possible topic that we might be teaching in the near future. After meeting with a partner that had a similar topic, we discussed strengths and weaknesses of the potential lessons. Everyone seemed to have put a lot of thought into the general idea of their lesson which spawned a great classroom discussion.
Throughout the discussion process, I took so many notes about awesome future projects that I could tweak to meet my class’s needs. For example, I really like the idea of Levels of Questioning which gets students involved in creating their content objectives. (Level 1- basic content such as who, what, when; Level 2- How or why questions; Level 3- the generative question or “In your opinion…” question that asks students to reason and provide evidence.) Another idea that I want to think more about for American history was the Mock Congress idea. It seems daunting to deal with those logistics but that’s what colleagues are for!
This class is full of awesome ideas as well as some great future social studies teachers. I feel confident in others’ opinions and advice. Everyone is so willing to listen and contribute to the conversation. In terms of this last assignment, my partner definitely helped me think about some futures issues with my lesson study but, at the same time, delivered constructive criticism.
Overall, this project let me think about the more important components of putting together a lesson. I think this assignment worked well so that the class could generate new thoughts and ideas about what is necessary for student learning. I look forward to doing this when we have actual lesson plans to come up with.
I completed this assignment while simultaneously writing my lesson plan, and I discovered that this process really helped me to focus and shape my lesson plans. By writing down the steps and goals of my lesson in a format more recognizable to me, I was able to clearly express those in my formal lesson plan. Besides narrowing my ideas, this assignment also helped me to examine critical pieces of the lesson (content, process, etc.) In this way I was able to objectively examine my lesson, and to visualize it from an outside perspective.
The most valuable experience however was when we brought in our lesson studies to class, and got to discuss them with our peers, it was helpful since we haven’t really gotten much time at all to share our ideas and strategies with the other students in the program. This assignment allowed us to do that, and using specific details from our teaching moments. Most everyone in the program have very good ideas and I would like to be able to continue to exploit that resource. There are also those who have much different strategies than I do, and I really like to see how other individuals approach teaching. I think it would be valuable to utilize the small groups more, as I can really gain an insight into the others’ strategies. Reconvening into a large class was nice, so we could hear what everyone was doing, but it wasn’t as revealing.
As a final piece to the assignment, I really think that reflection is very important for the learning process. In the moment of execution, I can list what went right or wrong, but I cannot clearly say why they went in either direction. It is important to take a moment and reflect on the experiences and actions of those moments, to achieve the greatest clarity possible.
Well, apparently “preview post” = crash the computer…so here this goes, for the second time.
I did not see the benefit of the lesson plan outline before class. Even though I had done the outline, it felt like I was just putting into words the ideas that I had already thought about while making my lesson plan. Maybe it was different for me, because I had already given my lesson so I knew how it went over with the students, and I knew how all of the goals were met during the lesson. However, during the peer partner/share time, I found myself needing to explain in better detail parts of my lesson plan – what had seemed clear to me were not as clear to other people. I also noticed that the peer share was really beneficial, as it gave me a chance to bounce ideas off another person, and to hear their ideas for a similar lesson and a similar class. I think that, for next time, I’ll try to use a lesson plan that I’ll be giving in the future, so that the outcomes are not as definite and there is a better place for peer feedback.
My one suggestion for the lesson plan outlines is to shorten the classroom share aspect. It seemed a bit too long, especially because a lot of the components were the same or very similar. I’d like to try the “speed dating” share, so we all get to hear about each others’ lessons, but we are all keeping actively busy throughout the time. Then, if there are a couple really really really good lesson plans (new technique, challenging unit, etc.), have just those 2-3 people present their lesson to the class. I think that that would cut down on repeated information, but it’s just a suggestion.