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Lesson Study

Maths, DT and MFL – a study into student independence, Heaver, C., Sun. A., Winchester, C. Summer 2014.

A Lesson study from colleagues at Uplands Community College, Wadhurst.

Written by Aimin Sun, study was Aimin Sun with Carly Heaver and Carla Winchester

The concept of lesson study:

Lesson study is a method for improving teaching based on systematic and careful observation of lessons concentrating on learners and in particular on the learning.

Lesson study is built around the concept of a research lesson which the joint responsibility of the team. It is not used for evaluating the teacher but the quality of learning that takes place.

The reason of why we have participated in Lesson Study

To see pupil learning occurring in much sharper details.

To see the gaps between what assumed happening when pupils learned and what it actually happening.

To find out how to plan learning which is better matched to the pupils’ needs as a result.

The process of our lesson study

  1. Initial meeting to determine what it is that we want to improve
  2. First lesson study cycle
  • Joint planning of first research lesson
  • Teach/observe first research lesson
  • Interview pupils
  • Post RL1 discussions and initial plans for RL2
  1. Second lesson study cycle
  • Joint planning of second research lesson
  • Teach/observe RL2
  • Interview pupils
  • Post RL2 discussion and agree oval findings
  1. Write up our conclusions of both research lessons.

The initial meeting

As a triad we have agreed

The research theme;

  • How can we support our students being more independent of their learning?

The class we will conduct the research lessons in;

  • year 9 Spanish set 1

The three pupils who reflect different groups of learner in the class;

  • Student A, good academic progress writing skills on level 6b
  • Student K, average progress in general, speaking and writing skills on level 6c
  • Student J, below average progress in cross curricular skills, 5b/5a as CL

A short questionnaire for our three focused students about their view on independent learning;

Uplands lesson study pic

Jointed planning for lesson one

We decided to use ‘writing a paragraph about my ideal job’ as the main focus of the lesson.

We want to warm students up by pairing discussion about their ‘admiring/inspirational figure’ first in English and then attempting in Spanish.

The main part of the lesson is to communicate their view on their ideal job/career in Spanish. We have made the ‘three tenses verb table (present, past and future), and susses criteria for self and peer assessment during and after their writing. As support material we also made a writing frame to give the structure of the writing.

The plenary of the lesson is a whole class discussion to share good practice on the effectiveness on using resources to support their writing and verbal communication.

Here are the verb table, success criteria and the writing frame;

Uplands lesson study pic 2

Uplands lesson study pic 3

Uplands lesson study pic 4

Uplands lesson study pic 5

Uplands lesson study pic 6

uplands pic 7

uplands pic 8

uplands pic 9

During the lesson we noted down how each of the three focused students responded to our activities and interviewed each of them individually.

Feedback from lesson 1

Student A Student J Student K
What were the aims of this lesson? Write few sentences about what you want to do when you are older, like pros and cons about your ideal job. Write few sentences about what will you do when you are older, like jobs and careers. Absent from lesson 1
On a scale of 1-10 how confident did you feel that you had all the tools and resources to support you to be independent this lesson? 9 or 8 I think about 7 or 8.
What can you do now that you couldn’t do before? The ending of a verb (regular or irregular verbs). I can use verb table now that I couldn’t do before.
What did you enjoy most about this lesson? Probably writing about the jobs I enjoyed writing the paragraphs of my ideal job.
What did you least enjoy about this lesson or what didn’t work very well for you? There weren’t enough talking, like chance to talk to your partner to work on your accent. That is what I would like to do. I think I have been distracted a little bit,(Q: which part of the lesson do you think that you have been distracted?)

During the presentation at the beginning of the lesson.

I think I talked.

What would you recommend is changed about this lesson if it is taught again to another group? More talking, so you can talk to your partner. It was a quite good, I am not sure.

What did we learnt from lesson 1 and students feedback?

(It became apparent that student J was struggled to work independently and didn’t have much interaction from his peers throughout the lesson.)

Group meeting:

After brief discussion about the differences between our observations on our three focused students on their ability of independent learning and their self-assessment scales, we decided to do a second round of research on independent learning, starting with the definition of independent learning.

Here are the key findings of our research;

  1. Definition of independent learning

Independent learning is not about learning alone or study at home (away from the teacher). Independent learning is a ‘self-regulated learning’ the ability of control your own learning process regardless the learning style and environment (in group v individually or in class v at home.)

  1. Independent learning includes the following process;
  • Goal Setting
  • Planning – Plan how to realise the goal
  • Monitoring – Monitor progress as they follow their plan
  • Reflecting – Assess and reflect on what they have achieved.
  1. The key factors which influence independent learning
  • Motivation
  • confidence
  1. Few strategies on promoting independent learning?
  • Scaffolding – providing supportive structure of the learning process.
  • Opportunities to self-monitor –with self-assessing materials learners use internal and external feedback to see whether the strategies they were using were effective for achieving learning goals.
  • Modelling behaviour – encouraging pupils to model the behaviour of their teachers, e.g. teachers showing pupils how categorising information made it easier to remember.
  • Developing communication – including language focused on learning. This help pupils become more aware of the steps involved in learning, understand their own learning styles and help pupils and teachers share their thinking.
  • Providing feedback on homework – improving pupil’s confidence in working independently and helping them develop the reflective aspect of independent learning.

Planning lesson 2:

Based on students’ feedback and our research we have planned our lesson two, taught by Carla with year 9 top set Spanish, observed by Aimin and Carly.

The focus of this lesson is using ‘name’s favourite holiday’ as a topic to produce a piece of written work, similar outcome as lesson one.

We decided to make the following changes;

A:  There will be more talking and sharing opportunities for students to establish the extent of their understanding of the topic and work on their accents.

B: Opportunities of working with different partners to improve communication and cooperation skills.

C: Using a checklist to help students being more reflective and self-assessing throughout their learning.

D: Directed time to act upon from self-assessment and peer feedback.

Here is the draft of the lesson plan:

·         Starter = 5 mins ‘verbal tennis’ (holiday vocabulary back and forth between partners)

·         Then Carla to explain the main task to the whole class.

·         Students then carry out main task:

o   ‘Shoulder partners’ ask each other questions in English (where, what, when, etc.

o   Individuals then write about their partner’s holiday (in Spanish – past tense, she/he went, did, saw, etc.) using photocopied page from textbook to help with vocabulary.

o   Individuals read out what they wrote to their ‘face partner’

o   Partner uses checklist to check oral work – accent etc. – and written work, and use the check list to feed back to their partner using WWW and EBI.

o   Individuals then act upon feedback – plenary

And the checklist:

Self (peer) assessment criteria

items Y/N
1.      Did you check your spelling carefully?(use a dictionary for words you are not sure about.) Y/N
2.      Did you use a capital letter at the beginning of each sentence? Y/N
3.      Did you put a full stop at the end of each sentence? Y/N
4.      Are you sentences clear and easy to read?(perhaps you need to make them shorter and less complex.) Y/N
5.      Is your hand writing neat?(perhaps you should rewrite it.) Y/N
6.      Did you answer the questions fully? Y/N
7.      Did you use your own words?(if so, make sure you show how they help develop your point.) Y/N
8.      Did you finish everything you were asked to do? Y/N
9.      Is your work organised? Is it clear how each paragraph answers the question? (Make sure that your teacher/peers will be able to correct your work easily.) Y/N
10.  What other mistakes do you often make? Write one here:

During the lesson:

How did our three focused students respond to the activities?

Student A Student J Student K
Starter: Verbal tennis(In Spanish whenever possible) Fully engaged with her partner, using classroom display and her note book to assist her vocabulary. Student J and student K working as partners.They both went quiet after very brief exchange of few words. J looked through his book whilst K talking to another student.
Discussion on holidays – Shoulder partner(In English) Again very quickly engaged in conversation about holidays with her partner with consideration of how to translate words and phrases to Spanish. Similar behaviour observed as in the ‘verbal tennis’. Not long after the starting of this speaking activity, they stopped their conversation and started to write down the information about each other in English and then
Look through his note book. Chatting with other students.
Individual writing Started with looking through the verb table, also used dictionary. Produced extensive piece of writing and discussed with her partner on few occasions.  Started his writing for the first sentence and then stopped to seek assistance from student K, the verb table, his book and dictionary.Completed his writing in time. Started writing her paragraph straight away. It seemed that she didn’t need to reach out for support from student J and very little use of the verb table.Finished the task early and asked for next task.
Feedback to facial partners Active discussion observed mainly in Spanish. Feedback to his partner mainly in English. Very brief discussion with mixture of Spanish and English.Again finished early and asked for next step.
Feedback by using checklist Talking it through while they answered each question in the checklist. Fill the checklist on his own without sharing with student K. Fill the checklist on her own without sharing with student J.

After the lesson:

What did our focused students say about the lesson?

We gave the same questionnaire to our three focused students here are the summery of their responses about lesson 2.

Student A Student J Student K
What were the aims of this lesson? Write few sentences about our favourite holiday Similar to student A Absent
On a scale of 1-10 how confident did you feel that you had all the tools and resources to support you to be independent this lesson? 8-9 7-8
What can you do now that you couldn’t do before? Talking about my holiday in Spanish Using past tense to describe my holiday
What did you enjoy most about this lesson? Verbal tennis and talking with different partners. Writing about my holiday
What did you least enjoy about this lesson or what didn’t work very well for you? None, I enjoyed the lesson very much especially the opportunity of talking in Spanish Verbal tennis
What would you recommend is changed about this lesson if it is taught again to another group? The lesson worked really well for me. Perhaps more time to prepare the verbal tennis or choose my own working partner


Conclusion :

As teacher we have learned from this study;

  • To reflect more on the students’ learning which ultimately has an effect on our teaching.
  • Working and planning lessons with colleagues has given us the opportunity to see our lesson from different perspectives.
  • Learning to act upon observation and discussion with a focus on learning and not teaching.
  • The concept of independent learning ( it is not about working alone but in control of your own learning regardless the learning style-in group v individually or in class v at home)
  • The two key factors which influence independent learning (motivation and confidence).
  • Few strategies for how to balance Teaching and facilitating in a classroom environment to encourage independent learning.

Overall summary of findings 

  • Although it was time consuming we found the outcome of our research is very helpful in terms of facilitating an effective learning journey of our students.
  • Most of the students in this group are now able to use a verb table whilst writing in Spanish.
  • Students are more aware of areas of improvement and what they need to do for the next step in Spanish.
  • Use of the checklist is not as effective, so more time and training needed for this type of task.
  • Students enjoyed structured independent work on the whole but less able students need more detailed guidance.


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