Using video in teacher education

Rosella Santagata and Jody Guarino have written an interesting article about Using video to teach future teachers to learn from teaching. The article was recently published online in ZDMRosella, the main author of the article, used to work at LessonLab in Santa Monica (LessonLab closed in 2009), but now works at the University of California, Irvine. One of her particular areas of focus is to use technological tools (like video) to foster teacher learning, and she has written lots of articles about this. (See her publication list for more!)

In this particular article, they present results from the “Learning to Learn from Mathematics Teaching” project. The main focus in the article is on how they have used video in a particular course for pre-service teachers. The project is linked with lesson study, and it seems to build upon the previous studies (like the TIMSS Video Studies) that Santagata and her previous colleagues (like Jim Stigler and James Hiebert) at the LessonLab conducted some years ago. The “Lesson Analysis Framework” is presented and discussed in detail, and so is their use of videos to develop analytic skills with the teachers. So, if you want to learn more about the use of videos in teacher education, this is a great opportunity to learn from one of the masters in this field. And the article is Open Access too, so it should be freely available for everyone to read!!!

Exemplary mathematics instruction in Japanese classrooms

Yoshinori Shimizu has written an article that I think will be of great interest to many: Characterizing exemplary mathematics instruction in Japanese classrooms from the learner’s perspective. For more than a decade, researchers have had a focus on teaching practice in East-Asia, and in particular in Japan. Shimizu aims at examining some key characteristics of exemplary mathematics instruction in Japanese eigth-grade classrooms. The article was published online in ZDM on Wednesday. Here is the abstract:

This paper aims to examine key characteristics of exemplary mathematics instruction in Japanese classrooms. The selected findings of large-scale international studies of classroom practices in mathematics are reviewed for discussing the uniqueness of how Japanese teachers structure and deliver their lessons and what Japanese teachers value in their instruction from a teacher’s perspective. Then an analysis of post-lesson video-stimulated interviews with 60 students in three “well-taught” eighth-grade mathematics classrooms in Tokyo is reported to explore the learners’ views on what constitutes a “good” mathematics lesson. The co-constructed nature of quality mathematics instruction that focus on the role of students’ thinking in the classroom is discussed by recasting the characteristics of how lessons are structured and delivered and what experienced teachers tend to value in their instruction from the learner’s perspective. Valuing students’ thinking as necessary elements to be incorporated into the development of a lesson is the key to the approach taken by Japanese teachers to develop and maintain quality mathematics instruction.

Teachers’ reflective thinking skills

Amanda Jansen and Sandy M. Spitzer have written an article entitled Prospective middle school mathematics teachers’ reflective thinking skills: descriptions of their students’ thinking and interpretations of their teaching. The article was published online in Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education on Friday. Jansen and Spitzer takes the belief “that mathematics teacher educators should foster reflective thinking among prospective teachers” as point of departure, and they ask how teacher educators can help students prepare for this. In their article, which I think is very interesting by the way, they present Lesson study as an approach that can be used in order to learn from practice. Their study is also described as a “modified lesson study experience”.

Here is the article abstract:

In this study, we examined prospective middle school mathematics teachers’ reflective thinking skills to understand how they learned from their own teaching practice when engaging in a modified lesson study experience. Our goal was to identify variations among prospective teachers’ descriptions of students’ thinking and frequency of their interpretations about how teaching affected their students’ learning. Thirty-three participants responded to open-ended questionnaires or interviews that elicited reflections on their own teaching practice. Prospective teachers used two forms of nuance when describing their students’ thinking: (1) identifying students’ specific mathematical understandings rather than general claims and (2) differentiating between individual students’ thinking rather than characterizing students as a collective group. Participants who described their students’ thinking with nuance were more likely to interpret their teaching by posing multiple hypotheses with regard to how their instruction affected their students’ learning. Implications for supporting continued growth in reflective thinking skills are discussed in relation to these results.

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.