Monday, April 26, 2010

Lesson Study Learning Journey in December 2010?

I met with Yoshida Makoto (he coined the term lesson study and did his doctoral work in this professional development tool) and Takahashi Akihiko (he has been to Singapore several times) recently and we discussed the idea of such a learning journey for Singapore teachers.

The idea is that they will come to Singapore and run a few days' seminar on lesson study (with a focus on mathematics because we are all mathematics educators). This is to be followed by a trip to Japan where we will get to school how schools do lesson study - not the open lesson type of lesson study but the day-to-day lesson study that is more typical.

We will designed the learning journey in such a way that we will get into schools and see lesson planning, research lesson and lesson revision (with simultaneous translation into English language) followed by discussion with the professors.

When you come back here, the conversation will continue.

Once we get the organizer to work out the tuition fee (to include accommodation plus fee for the instructors as well as organizers who will hunt down schools for us to visit) I will let you know the details. We are thinking of a 10-day thing with about a week in Japan. The classes are likely to be Grade 1 to 8 Mathematics and perhaps Science.

If your school is interested please drop me aline so that we will keep you in the loop.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Share Your LS Journey at International Conferences

The trolley at San Diego where NCSM and NCTM events are hel this year.

Does your team want to present at international conferences?

Why do you want to do it? Preparing for these conferences is a learning journey in itself. Also, there are so many things to learn at these conferences. Plus, you get to see a bit of the place yo are presenting.

Do you need to be an expert to present?

Absolutely not. People are interested how Singapore teachers develop themselves professionally. It beats nothing to hear it from you directly. I am happy to coach any school who is keen to prepare for a conference.

This is a selection of 2011 conferences I think will provide opportunities for learning. Deadlines for proposal are approaching but there is plenty of time to prepare the actual presentation. If you need ideas for proposal contact me.

General Education
2011 ASCD Annual Conference San Francisco CA
What you will learn at this conference?
UbD, DI, PLC especially action research, MI. Key authors of these concepts like Carol Tomlinson (DI) and the others are often at this conference.

Mathematics Education
2011 NCTM Annual Meeting and Exposition Indianapolis IN
What you you learn at this conference?
There is a mind boggling-number of sessions from dawn to dusk. There is a fantastic expo with manipulatives, books and so on. I come every year and I still get excited each time I attend this. If you are also interested in leadership in mathematics education e.g. HoDs, senior teachers and lead teachers, there is a NCSM Annual Conference that preceeds that.



Nearer to Singapore WALS2010 Conference is hosted by Brunei in December
See for details

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Changing Face of Professional Development in Singapore

Among the 30 000 teachers in over 300 schools, 75% of Singapore teachers have a first degree and 10% have graduate degree(Ng 2009). Half the teachers in primary schools have a first degree. Essentially all secondary teachers are university graduates. In a few years, MOE will only recruit only university graduates or students who qualify for degree programmes into the teaching force. Eventually, there will be only university graduates teaching in Singapore schools.

Singapore mathematics teachers are found to have good content and pedagogical content knowledge when they leave the NIE (see TEDS-M) - together with Taiwanese teacher, they are on top of the table among the 16 countries in the study.

Workshop-style inservice has become the norm. Most inservice courses offered at NIE are workshop style courses.

There are various possibilities under the umbrella of Teachers Network TN, Professional Development Leave PDL and Teacher Work Attachment TWA. For example, a HoD spent her PDL with me to develop hands-on learning activities for lower primary students. She researched the literature, pilot tested the activities in several school. Other teachers shadowed me as part of TWA. In fact, four teachers went to Cambodia in December 2009 to try their hands in teacher training as part of their TWA. More teachers will do this in June 2010. But these involve a small number of already motivated teachers. How about the average teacher in the system? They also, especially, need professional development.

Research has indicated the limitations of workshop-style professional development. The demand on teachers are higher. With the recommendations of PERI, tecahers are expected to engage students better. The curriculum and national examination (PSLE)also expects teachers to help average students become good in problem solving. Teachers have been doing well - typically 40% to 45% of a cohort are capable of solving challenging mathematics problems. But the demands for teacher to help more students acquire the ability to handle complexities is becoming more urgent.

The setting up of the PLC is in the right direction. About 50 schools pilotted PLC in 2009. More are on board this year. By 2012 all schools will have formal PLCs.

PLCs allows teacher to engage in a wider range of professional development including those which are authentic and on site such as lesson study. I think this is in the right direction to help teacher acquire the necessary knowledge to deal with the complexities of teaching and the demands of the system to prepare students well for the global technological economy.

Many schools are making good start in forming and kick-starting PLCs. Many teachers are enthusiatic as the learn to do lesson study and as the actually carry out lesson study.

Later this year, TN will morph into TDC which will coordinate all PLC activities. And I am excited about thinking of a 'curriculum' for inservice teachers.

This is probably our best bet in making an average teacher an expert one.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lesson Study at NCSM Annual Conference

There is a networking session facilitated by Jane Gorman in Randle B Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel on Wednesday 2:45 p.m.

At the opening keynote session Mike Schmoker spoke on the importance of "authentic team-based PLCs". Although he did not use the term lesson study, he emphasized the importance of collaborative planning, teaching, assessing impact of a lesson and adjusting the lesson which is essentially the four stages in a lesson study cycle.

Lisa Lavelle and Claire Gates spoke on three forms of professional learning - video study group, classroom coaching and lesson study and a team from Las Vegas presnted their experience in doing lesson study to focus on communication and problem solving.

The next NCSM Annual Conference is April 11 -13 2011 to be nosted by Indianapolis IN. Deadline for proposal submission June 7 2011. See

This conference is focussed on mathematics with an emphasis on leadership and professional development - suitable for HoDs. This conference is followed by NCTM, a much bigger conference on mathematics teaching and learning.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Question on Lesson Study

I am a teacher in a primary school in Singapore, currently carrying out Lesson Study in our school. I would like to seek your advice on Research Themes.

I gather that to come up with the Research Theme, the team needs to look at the Ideal Profile of Students and the Actual Situation of Students. This, with the School's and Department's Vision and Mision, the team will construct the Research Theme or Research Focus. My question is once this is firmed up, it will form the basis of all future Research Lessons for Lesson Studies, is that right?

Do we need to come up with a different Research Theme for each cycle of Lesson Study or will the Research Theme be the one that all Lesson Studies be based on. For example, my team has discussed and came up with a Research Theme for Mathematics. Will another Research Theme need to be constructed for a different cycle for Mathematics or can we use this Research Theme we have decided on for all Research Lessons for Mathematics.

Ban Har writes: Based on the school's vision, focus of the curriculum and your students' profile, the research theme is constructed. You are on the right track. You will stick with the same reasearch theme for a while until your team feel that there are new areas that need attention.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Lesson Study at Yangzheng Primary School

In the second-cycle research lesson, four parallel research lessons using the same lesson was conducted on an angle property in trapeziums.

This is an interesting format where there is more than one research lessons and participants would have seen different classes in action. This should make the post-lesson discussion more lively.

In an MOE course ran by RECSAM in Princess Elizabeth Primary School in 2009, two research lessons were conducted to alleviate the problems of a large number of participants squeezing into one class.

Lesson Study & Graduate Programmes in Japan

For teachers who are interested to observe lesson study in Japan, there are several options. At the start of each calendar year, the APEC HRD Lesson Study group meets in Japan and this meeting includes opportunities to see lesson study. In 2010, a group of Singapore teachers were with me when we attended the APEC event. There were also many teachers from Thailand and MOE officials from Brunei who came with their respective country specialists.

Another option is to join a study group organised by Global Resources (US-based agency). There was one such previous visit and another one this July. It targets primarily US teachers. It is led by two or three Japanese professors who are based in the US (Yoshida Makoto, Akihiko Takahashi and Tad Watanabe - all big names in lesson study and mathematics education). I am speaking to Makoto about the possibility having one for Singapore teachers in December 2010 or June 2011.

This year's EARCOME is in Japan and the programme includes lesson study.

Those who intend to study for masters or doctoral degree in Japan may consider Hiroshima University or Tsukuba University. These universities have been offering doctoral programmes in maths education for many years. More recently another group of universities which include the famed Tokyo University has also started to offer Ph.D. in maths education. If you are keen on studying in Japan you may look up their websites.