The Lesson Study Cycle

The Lesson Study cycle currently implemented in most schools in South Africa involves Diagnostic analysis as the first stage. This unique feature of the Lesson study in South Africa was informed by the gap in the original version where there was no mention of how the problematic topic/concept was identified. The idea of diagnostic analysis was informed by the diagnostic analysis predominantly done in mathematics national assessments to establish the nature of conceptual and/or procedural knowledge deficiencies learners had. 

Figure 2: The Lesson Study Cycle

The Lesson Study cycle illustrated in Figure 2 unfolds as follows:

Stage 1 – Diagnostic analysis: Use the common assessment administered in all schools in the cluster to identify the common misconceptions emanating from learners’ responses to inform the problematic topic that should be tackled in during the Lesson Study session. Alternatively, teachers constituting a Lesson Study cluster can identify a topic that poses a challenge for (some of) them to teach effectively and use it as the basis for the Lesson Study session.

Stage 2 – Collaborative lesson planning: Brainstorm the different methods and strategies that can be employed to teach the identified topic. The brainstorming session could be preceded by individually gathering information on how to teach the identified topic. From the plethora of ideas or methods, determine the methods or integration of few ideas perceived to be most effective to teach the topic. Plan the lesson collaboratively.

Stage 3 – Lesson presentation and observation: One teacher from the group volunteers to teach the collaborative lesson at his/her school on an agreed date and the other team members observe the lesson. The observation instrument should be made available before the lesson observation. Any other external knowledgeable person (such as a subject advisor) who was not part of the lesson planning process may be invited to observe the lesson. Observers should document their observations and not interfere with the lesson.

Stage 4 – Post-lesson reflection: One of the observers should facilitate the post-lesson reflections, however the presenter of the lesson should be the first one to reflect on the lesson. Central to the post-lesson reflection should be the lesson objectives - what contributed to their achievement or lack thereof.

Stage 5 – Lesson improvement: All the ideas emanating from the post-lesson reflection should be consolidated and used to improve the lesson. The lesson could be taught again to determine its effectiveness. Different variations could be considered, such as a different teacher could teach the lesson to different learners or the same teacher could teach it again.

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