Exploring Japanese teachers’ conception of mathematics lesson structure

Yoshinori Shimizu has written an article called Exploring Japanese teachers’ conception of mathematics lesson structure: similarities and differences between pre-service and in-service teachers’ lesson plans. The article was published online in ZDM on Saturday, and it will be one of the articles in a forthcoming issue on An Asia Pacific focus on mathematics classrooms. Japanese Lesson Study has been known in the Western world for years. It is normally recognized that the book of Jim Stigler and James Hiebert: The teaching gap, first introduced the idea of lesson study to the West.

In this article, Shimizu analyzes the teachers’ conception of structure in mathematics lessons by focusing on their lesson plans. Here is the abstract of the article:

The research reported in this paper explores teachers’ conception of what mathematics lesson structure is like by analyzing the lesson plans they wrote. Japanese in-service and pre-service teachers (n = 246) were asked to produce a lesson plan for teaching the formula for finding the area of a parallelogram. Organizations of planned lessons were analyzed in terms of the form and content of steps/phases descriptions of them. Also, the multiplicity was analyzed of anticipated students’ responses to the problem posed in the plans. The analysis revealed both similarities and differences between lesson plans produced by the two groups of teachers. In particular, it was found that in-service teachers tended to retain the description of the problem to be posed and the anticipation of student responses in their lesson plans, while they abandoned other elements that they were trained to write when they were pre-service teachers. The results suggest that these two elements constitute the “core” of Japanese teachers’ conception of lesson structure. Origins of these core elements are discussed with a focus on the role of lesson plans as vehicles for examining and improving lessons in Lesson Study.

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