Are there lessons we can learn from a Japanese style of teaching?

Secondary school pupils are to be offered a taste of life in a Japanese-style classroom as part of a conference aimed at looking at what lessons we could learn from the approaches taken to teaching maths by countries around the globe.
The year seven pupils from Bluecoat Academy will experience a live and large scale, Japanese-style problem solving lesson with expert guidance from maths teachers from Tokyo Gakugei University during the event organised by the Centre for Research in Mathematics Education at The University of Nottingham.
The conference, which takes place on Friday July 14, will provide unique opportunities to explore approaches to maths teaching and learning, as well as maths teachers’ professional development, that are key to mathematical success in other parts of the world.

The Lesson Study approach was first established in Japan more than 100 years ago and is increasingly being used in other countries, particularly Singapore and the US – and now in England. It is a method of classroom-based professional development, built round ‘research lessons’ that are planned by a team of educators and delivered by one of them.

Unique opportunity

Lesson study involves groups of teachers collaboratively planning, teaching, observing and analysing learning and teaching in ‘research lessons’. Over a cycle of research lessons, they may innovate or refine an approach that will improve pupil’s learning and which will be shared with others both through public research lessons, and through the publication of a paper outlining their findings.
The centre’s Geoff Wake, Professor of Mathematics Education, has been leading a Nuffield Foundation-funded project - LeMaPS: Lessons for Mathematical Problem Solving - which has investigated the potential of Japanese lesson study to support the professional learning of mathematics teachers.
Professor Wake said: “This event provides a unique opportunity in the UK to consider the process in Japan that supports teachers to become experts while developing students’ mathematical knowledge and problem solving expertise.
“Our research collaboration with Japan has shown how we can both learn from our respective countries, with our Japanese colleagues having been particularly keen to find out more about how we approach problem solving here in Nottingham.”
The afternoon of the conference will be given over to opportunities to take part in a choice of two from four workshop sessions led by teachers and researchers exploring what we might learn from other countries about a number of other important issues including text books, curriculum, and assessment.
Deep Learning Through Deep Teaching: What Can We Learn from Other Countries takes place from 9am to 4.15pm on Friday July 14 at the Jubilee Conference Centre at the University’s Jubilee Campus in Nottingham.
The cost for this event is 125 per person for a full day of lesson study, workshops, resources and catering and places can be booked online.

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