The Lesson Study Process

The following is a description of the lesson study process adapted from The Teaching Gap: Best Ideas from the World's Teachers for Improving Education in the Classroom, by James Stigler and James Hiebert.


Steps in the Lesson Study Process:

  1. Define the problem.  Lesson study is a problem-solving process.  Teachers shape and focus the problem until it can be addressed by a specific classroom lesson.  Develop a learning goal.
  2. Plan the Lesson.  Once a learning goal has been chosen, then planning begins.  Teachers research the problem by reading books and articles written by teachers and experts who have faced similar problems.  They identify the standards that they wish to work on.  They may also work with "knowledgeable others" from local universities or businesses.  The lesson should be designed with a hypothesis in mind.  The goal is to go beyond producing an effective lesson to understanding how and why the lesson works to promote understanding among students.
  3. Teach the Lesson.  Everyone participates in preparing the lesson plan.  One teacher teaches the lesson, which is observed by the other teachers in the group.  The observers watch and take notes on what the students are doing, as well as the teacher.  The lesson may be audio taped and/or videotaped for future analysis and discussion.
  4. Evaluate the Lesson and Reflect on Its Effect.  The group meets soon after the lesson is presented.  The teacher who taught the lesson begins the critique of how the lesson went from their perspective.  The other members of the group share their observations on the parts of the lesson that were seen as problematic.  Collected data, including student work, is reviewed.  The focus is on the lesson and how it promotes student learning, not the teacher.  The lesson is a group project; so all members have ownership in the lesson plan and are critiquing their own work.
  5. Revise the Lesson.  Based on their observations, data and reflections, and input from "knowledgeable others," teachers in the lesson study group revise the lesson.  They may change the materials, activities, problems posed, questions asked, or all of these things.
  6. Teach the Revised Lesson.  Once the revised lesson is ready, the lesson is taught again to a different class.  Sometimes the same teacher teaches the lesson, but most often another member of the group teaches it.  All members of the faculty are invited to attend the teaching of the revised lesson.
  7. Evaluate and Reflect, Again.  This time, other faculty members are invited to participate.  As before, the teacher who taught the lesson begins the discussion.  Observers critique the lesson and suggest changes.  This time the discussion goes beyond the specific lesson to more general issues raised by the hypothesis that guided the design of the lesson.  What was learned about teaching and student learning?
  8. Share the Results.  Sharing is done in several ways.  Teachers often create a portfolio that documents their role in and reflections on the lesson study process.  The completed lesson plans are made available to other teachers.  Other teachers are invited to observe the teaching of the final version of the lesson.