Teaching Through Problem-Solving As a Resource for U.S. Elementary Mathematics Teachers

Funded by U.S. Education Department, Institute of Education Sciences
September 2011 – August 2014

Project Overview
This 3-year project, funded by the national Institute of Education Sciences, supports collaboration with a network of U.S. elementary educators to build “Teaching Through Problem-Solving” (“TTP”) in selected sites across the U.S..  TTP is an approach widely used in Japan to support students’ development of mathematical practices at the same time as mathematical content. In TTP, major new mathematical content is typically introduced through in-depth focus on solving a single, carefully-selected mathematical problem.  Routine classroom instruction builds students’ use of prior knowledge, systematic organization of data, connection of symbolic and concrete representations, and other mathematical practices so that students are able to solve such novel problems.  Many features of TTP daily classroom instruction support students’ agency and capability as mathematics learners, including regular presentation and analysis of student solution methods, “neriage” (kneading) discussion that draws out key mathematical ideas from students’ solution approaches, systematic use of the blackboard to organize mathematical ideas from the students, questioning and summary strategies that promote students’ metacognitive reflection and student journaling. 

Years 1 and 2 of the project (fall 2011-fall 2013) focus on translation and development of TTP materials, and use and refinement of these materials by lesson study teams in 6 sites across the U.S., collaborating in a network. Year 3 (the 2013-14 school-year) will include 72 additional upper-grade elementary teachers (Grades 3-5) interested in using TTP as a way to build the student mathematical practices entailed in the Common Core State Standards. Year 3 participants will be randomly assigned to a TTP or waitlist condition, and asked to select and share sample videos from their classroom practice focused on building student mathematical practices.

 

Focused and Coherent Elementary Mathematics: Adapting a Japanese K-2 Curriculum for Use in the United States

Funded by U.S. Education Department, Institute of Education Sciences
September 2011 – August 2014

Project Overview
This project is designed to translate and adapt a leading Japanese elementary mathematics curriculum to the U.S. Common Core State Standards, and to test it in eight sites across the U.S.. The curriculum is Tokyo Shoseki’s Mathematics, the most widely used curriculum in Japan.  The curriculum is being implemented in kindergarten classrooms during the 2012-13 school-year and in grade 1 classrooms during the 2013-14 school-year.  Lesson study is used at the sites as a professional development tool to support curriculum implementation and as a source of formative data to guide revisions of the curriculum.  Teacher surveys and student assessments will provide additional data on the impact of the curriculum. Teams implementing the curriculum at the eight sites also participate in a virtual network where they share know-how and challenges related to implementation.  The international version of the curriculum can be accessed at http://www.globaledresources.com/.  Further information on this project can be obtained from rperry@mills.edu.

 

Improving the Mathematical Content Base of Lesson Study

Funded by U.S. Education Department, Institute of Education Sciences, Teacher Quality
September 2007 – August 2011

Project Overview
This project is developing and testing a research-based toolkit designed to help mathematics lesson study groups use research-based knowledge effectively.  The toolkit focuses on an area of mathematics that is problematic for U.S. students (mathematical representations), and includes resources designed to help lesson study groups learn about this topic and its teaching-learning (such as mathematical tasks, examples of student work, lesson videos, and research articles).  The project will compare three experimental conditions: (1) lesson study with the toolkits;  (2) lesson study without the toolkits; and (3) locally-chosen non lesson study (usual, or locally-determined) professional development.

Study Setting & Population
The sample is being recruited via lesson study listserves and professional networks. The final sample will include approximately 39 lesson study groups, 156 elementary school teachers, and 975 elementary school students, ranging widely in urbanicity, socioeconomic status, and other demographics. Lesson study groups interested in study participation should email us at info@lessonresearch.net for study specifications.

Research Design and Methods
In Phase 1 we are developing, pilot testing, and refining the toolkit, drawing on systematic input from a panel of expert advisors. In Phase 2, thirty-nine volunteering lesson study groups will be stratified into the trios described above based on student and teacher demographic variables.  One group from each trio will be randomly assigned to one of the three experimental conditions.  This will result in thirteen lesson study groups for each condition.  One lesson study cycle per lesson study group will be observed and student data gathered. Data will include: video and audio recording of lesson study meetings, meeting reports from participants and observers, artifacts from lessons (e.g., lesson plans, mathematical tasks, worksheets, and student work), and pre- and post- teacher and student assessments.

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