Exploring Lesson Study as professional development for inclusive pedagogy in secondary Mathematics

Perdita Hatton-Brown is a SENCO and specialist SEND teacher.  She leads the Personalisation Department in a secondary academy for girls in West London.  The school has a mixed demographic, with high numbers of students with additional learning needs, economic disadvantange and for whom English is an additional language.  In the course of her studies on the MTEACH Special Educational Needs, she had become interested in Lesson Study as a way to develop ‘universal interventions’ at a whole class teaching level for learners with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities. Her work documents the process and results of Action Research into using Lesson Study to develop inclusive teaching of Mathematics with Year 9 students, and was carried out in her school in 2015.  

Lesson Study (LS) is a form of joint practice development that has been used for over 150 years in Japan. It is now widely used across East Asia and in some parts of the United States, but is a fairly recent phenomenon in the UK.  It involves three teachers jointly planning, observing, and evaluating a cycle of three lessons.  The exciting part is that the focus is on the learners and their progress and not on one another’s teaching; a key means of achieving this is the study, in each lesson, of the learning of two pre-selected ‘case-students’, who are closely observed.  They are briefly interviewed about their experience of the lesson and their learning after each lesson.  Student feedback and teacher observations are shared to inform the planning of the next lesson in the cycle.  At the end of the cycle the LS team write a short report and share with the rest of the teaching staff.  In Japan, some schools even set up ‘show lessons’ after school and invite parents and local dignitaries in.  At the time of writing, LS had been recently used in the UK to explore mathematics pedagogy and to develop universal teaching for learners labelled with Moderate Learning Difficulties.  It had also been used to apply the ‘graduated approach’ to assessing pupil needs.  The literature around Lesson Study is generally overwhelmingly positive.  It is cheap and quick, highly context specific, and teachers who take part generally report great gains from the process.


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Teacher Research Projects: what’s available out there?

Students working on a computer[1090]

At this point of the year, lots of teachers will be breathing a massive sigh of relief having finished their classroom research projects;  others will be chewing their nails thinking about the one they’re about to start.

So it’s timely to think about where all this work gets published.

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Children’s Experiences of Learning Autonomy in Cognitive Acceleration (“Let’s Think”) in Maths Lessons

Luke Rolls, a primary school teacher and mathematics subject leader, investigated children’s experiences of the Cognitive Acceleration in Maths programme to evaluate what potential it had for developing the elusive concept of learning autonomy.  His research was conducted with a year four maths class in an outer-London school in an area of socio-economic disadvantage, using ‘Let’s Think’ as a means of developing problem-solving and conceptual approaches to learning mathematics, to counter cognitively-passive, procedurally-focussed lessons. The study researched pupils’ responses to the lessons and wider views they held about modes of teacher instruction and learning, and found evidence to support the contention that the teaching approach adopted promoted pupil autonomy—notwithstanding contextual factors such as the impact of classroom ethos and the effect of thinking skills.

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What is hindering the achievement of the most able year 11 students in Maths and English?

Amy Green teaches in a large, mixed, non-selective secondary school in a borough with a grammar school system in southeast London. She carried out qualitative research in 2012-13 with a group of ‘able’ year 11 students to capture their own thoughts on what may hinder their achievement. ‘Able students often feature as an underperforming group’ she writes, ‘but research tends to focus on the views of adults’. Her findings suggest that in her context, classroom factors, not family or peer-group factors, had the biggest impact on achievement. The findings are used to make recommendations for establishing a school environment where high achievement is expected, planned for and celebrated.

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