Our Learning for Life vision statement calls us to promote six essential actions: integrated studies, problem-based learning, utilizing 21st Century learning spaces, teachers working in teams, balanced assessment, and global citizenship.
Our Algebra I PLT (professional learning team) reconfigured the start of Algebra I to take our first team steps toward implementing our vision. We always start the year with solving equations and graph interpretation. Instead of using the book, we attacked interpretation of graphs with Age Estimation and Phases of the Moon. And, we did it as a team. There were class periods where all four Algebra I teachers were in class with our learners. We took our first steps toward lesson study. We watched one of us teach and studied the lesson. We then made adjustments to the lesson before it was delivered to the next set of learners.
While I could go into the details of how each lesson was adjusted, improved, and became our lesson rather than my lesson, I think there is a larger lesson for me to learn. I’ve collected emails and peer observation notes about my team’s view of the process of lesson study and its impact on learning. With their permission, I share observations and reflections from my team.
From WB’s Peer Observation: August 19, 2011
DD had several moments during the class when she asked JG, BC, or me how to handle a technology situation. I thought that it modeled something important to the students—we all are learning, especially when it comes to the effective use of technology in the classroom. I was thankful to see her meekness and readiness to receive input from other teachers and the students.
From JG’s Peer Observation: August 20, 2011
I just loved seeing BC with the students standing at the big graph on the back wall discussing the characteristics of the moon while they were graphing as shown in the attached video. Isn’t it great that they used the phases of the moon to help plot the data points?
I loved the sense of community that you can see in the video. Everyone was up working together to produce a common graph. All learners in the class generated questions and answers; the students were not waiting for the teacher to give them the answer. The lesson integrated earth science with graph interpretation. The children worked together, and at the same time, saw us working together.
Email: Thursday, August 25, 2011 9:42 AM
JG, WB & BC,
Thank you for all the work you’ve done for us on Algebra I. JG, I feel good about my Phases of the Moon lesson I did myself; I feel like the kids were much more engaged in the learning than they are with Sit-n-Get. I appreciate the work you are putting in the course and your team-teaching approach. I love that we feel comfortable to speak up in each other’s classes when we think of something that would add to the lesson. I welcome y’all’s presence anytime.
WB, your help with Schoology has been awesome. I am learning about it bit by bit. Thank you for taking such a big job on your first week here.
BC, you have helped me out several times when I was stuck with the SmartBoard, software or what comes next. I would love for all of our Alg I students to feel like they had four teachers.
We have more to do as a team to complete our understanding and implementation of lesson study, but we have made the first step. Our lessons are improving as we build the implement them together.