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Teachers demonstrate lesson study model at regional conference

Marcellus students collaborate on lesson studyDec. 6, 2016 -- Collaboration is the name of the game this year at Marcellus, where teachers and students have been involved in something called “lesson study.”

According to Katherine Cook, K-12 director of science, technology, math and engineering (STEM) for Marcellus, a lesson study is a professional development model in which teachers collaborate, study and design a lesson around a particular topic.

A lesson study cycle includes a research component in which teachers consult experts and conduct research on the topic they are studying based on learning standards. Collaboratively, teachers design a lesson addressing that standard. 

While one teacher implements the lesson, the other teachers observe the lesson and take notes on their observations. Afterward, the team meets to discuss their notes, and the lesson is revised based on the feedback about student learning. The lesson is then taught a second time to a new group of students, and student learning is observed once again. 

The purpose of lesson study is to allow teachers to collaboratively work together to improve their teaching and to ultimately improve student learning.

At Marcellus, a team of K-12 teachers and one administrator (Heidi Busa, Katrina Ercole, Mary Jo Hoeft, Sue Tavolacci, Jill Zoccolillo and Ms. Cook) began a lesson study cycle in August with the guidance of Kevin Moquin, a doctoral student from Syracuse University School of Education, and Dr. Sharon Dotger, an expert in the field of lesson study and science education, also from Syracuse University. Team members met weekly to participate in a lesson study cycle focused on implementing a new science standard for sixth-graders revolving around the sun-Earth-moon system and phases of the moon through the use of models.  

This lesson study cycle culminated with a live lesson delivered at a regional conference Nov. 8 at OCM BOCES, under the direction of Jessica Hehl, science center coordinator, and Syracuse University’s School of Education’s science education department. Sue Tavolacci taught Marcellus sixth-graders while approximately 80 teachers from the region observed.

Called “It’s Go Time: Seeing the Future Through the NEW NYS Science Standards,” the conference was the first of its kind to combine lesson study cycles focused on science instruction. Typically, lesson study cycles are focused on mathematics instruction. The Marcellus group was among the first in the world to do this. 

Congratulations to Heidi Busa, Katie Cook, Katrina Ercole, Mary Jo Hoeft, Sue Tavolacci and Jill Zoccolillo for taking on a leadership position in the region through their participation in this conference.

“This event has allowed our regional colleagues to see how lesson study is a useful strategy for gaining an understanding of the coming shifts in science instruction,” Ms. Cook said.

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