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.
At this stage in my teaching career, I found it valuable just to articulate my lesson thoughts to another person. Just like when writing a paper, a certain amount of myopia sets in for me when planning a lesson. My closeness to the material might make me overlook otherwise obvious concerns. For example, I decided to have the students evaluate each other’s presentations by a rubric. However, I hadn’t included any assessment requiring the students to demonstrate that they understood the content of those presentations.
Similarly, when listening to other people’s plans, the first questions to pop into my mind were about the practical execution of their lessons, not the fundamental ideas underlying them. For example, Stephen’s Civil War tug-of-war lesson sparked my (and others’) interest and led to lively discussion about how to make sure it would go smoothly.
Let’s not limit ourselves to our peers for feedback, however. Whether or not a demonstration like the tug-of-war went as planned, I’m sure it would be engaging for everyone. If we then explained to the students what it was intended to show, and asked the students of ways to improve it, I expect they’d be full of suggestions. Indeed, as long as we’re transparent about what we hope the students will learn, students should always be available as a source of feedback about an activity’s efficacy. That, more than anything, is what I see Professor Pappas modeling in our course.
Following is the lesson outline that I brought to class for peer review. It’s intended to be one component of a ten-lesson unit on the Bill of Rights. The students will have already been introduced to the content of the amendments, and will have been studying the Constitution as a whole in the preceeding unit. I want to provide the students with an opportunity to engage with a specific topic a little more deeply, and perhaps learn about the process of legal reform inductively through it.
If anybody would like to take a look at it, I’d be much obliged!
I was unsure about this lesson study when I first received the assignment. I had created lesson plans before, plans that had usually turned out pretty well. I was not completely new at this and already had an idea of where I wanted my lesson plan to go.However, as I wrote the lesson study, I realized that it helped me focus my vague thoughts in a cohesive direction. It forced me to look further into my lesson and think about how it might play out in the classroom.
Even though it was a brief overview of an introductory lesson that I did not end up teaching (instead I taught the first lesson of the text book), I was able to think about how this lesson tied to all other lessons I would teach from this Social Studies unit. It helped me to prepare a more meaningful lesson when I actually wrote my lesson plan.
Explaining that lesson study to another person was equally helpful in understanding my own thought process. It has been said that the best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else and this is what happened. The more I explained my own lesson and justified my decisions in the lesson, the more I was able to understand the lesson itself and prepare for teaching it to my third graders.