Skip to main content


Welcome, the Hub connects all projects

Ask the Community


All Topics for this Forum

Topic: "PLCs that bridge research and practice"

Topic Posts

Topic started by: Joni Falk on 11/5/13

I am interested in hearing about any MSP (NSF or ED) that have instituted PLCs that bridge research and practice. How do practitioners engage with researchers, or with research, if at all? What are successful strategies? Challenges? Please share.

This archived topic is open to the public.

restart conversation
This topic has 9 posts, showing all.

PLCs through Lesson Study in Vertical Teams

posted by: Padmanabhan Seshaiyer on 11/6/2013 8:57 am

We have found that one can create effective PLCs by first creating a collaborative network. We were able to do this through our MSP which brought teachers first together for a content-focused summer institute and then a follow-up Lesson Study throughout the academic year that focused on engaging teachers in active learning through algebraic problem solving tasks, exploring pedagogical strategies, utilizing mathematics tools and technology, and promoting algebraic connections aligned and coherent to the K-12 curricula. To sustain the professional learning, the instructors met with teachers during the academic year in small vertical teams of five to six multi-grade teachers to encourage collective participation through a teacher-led professional development model called Lesson Study. This form of professional collaboration is a standard practice in Japan which has been shown to enhance teacher practices and improve student learning. The goal of these follow-up sessions was to provide teachers with continued support in learning and implementing algebraic content, supply materials and strategies to the participants, as well as provide opportunities for vertical articulation between and among grades levels to share ideas/resources, analyze student learning and work samples. The Lesson Study component was a critical piece that ensured the sustainability of the learning experiences as well as creation of new PLCs.

Research: We employed a conjecture driven model of design-based research cycles to allow the researchers to test and hone a model of professional development model while also building theory about how it worked. We focused on documenting the development of teachers' teaching practices and beliefs towards teaching for algebraic connections through a content focused institute and vertical teams in Lesson Study. Our conjecture was driven by the notion that by having teachers immersed in math content and then having them collaborative plan lessons that could be taught in multiple grade levels, they would have deep discussion of the progression of mathematical ideas across grade levels and how this learning could be extended for different learners. By adding depth and complexity to the problem, we conjectured that teachers would be able to analyze student thinking about the mathematics content and analyze common misconceptions and strategies that might help reveal those misconceptions to lead to meaningful learning. As the outcome, we conjectured that teachers would deepen their knowledge of subject matter, knowledge of instruction, capacity to observe students and analyze the learning progressions across grade levels.

Challenges: (a) Time in the classroom schedule for Lesson study (b) Willingness from the Principal to allow Lesson Study in their teachers schedule (c) Substitute funding for the teachers (fortunately our MSP helped with this!)

PLCs through lesson study in vertical teams

posted by: Sara Silver on 11/7/2013 8:51 am

Very interesting, Padmanabhan. How many of the original teachers (in the summer instt) continued with year-long lesson study. That is, what was the retention rate?

PLCs that bridge research and practice

posted by: Padmanabhan Seshaiyer on 11/17/2013 6:26 pm

Every teacher participated in it!

We were able to do this by having the teachers participate in this whole process through a graduate class. As any graduate class, they had to meet the requirements of the syllabus for the class which included traditional homework, in-class participation, reflections, collaborative lesson study, individual lesson plan, pre and post assessments, final presentation etc. The number of hours from the summer institute and the follow up meetings along with the lesson study and final presentation satisfied the requirements of the number of content hours for any traditional graduate class. Yes, one can go with a stipend model where the teachers may receive stipend at the end of completion of their work but we decided to go with the graduate credits which the teachers really looked forward to as it is something that stays in their record forever!

design based research cycle

posted by: Joni Falk on 11/7/2013 4:06 pm

Padmanabhan, thanks very much for this very descriptive post. Were the instructors higher ed faculty, and what role did they take in the PLCs that developed?

Also, interested to hear more about your design based research model. Do the researchers participate in the PLCs or are they outsiders? How long were the design-based research cycles and did the results iteratively change your PD design or the format or content of the PLCs?

PLCs that bridge research and practice

posted by: Padmanabhan Seshaiyer on 11/17/2013 6:43 pm

Yes, the instructors included a mathematics professor, a mathematics educator along with supporting instructional coaches who were star teachers from our past PLCs with consultation with the district supervisors.

Our research examined the impact of the collaborative mentoring model in the development of teachers' integrated pedagogical content knowledge through the analysis of teachers' reflections, interviews field notes from Lesson Study and pre and post assessment on teacher knowledge and preparedness on specific practice-based surveys. The professional development intervention went through a process of continual refinement, including constant feedback from teacher communications and observations of teaching, and interviews and focus groups with teachers, principals, parents, and students. Participants were followed longitudinally on several measures over multiple years. The study measured teachers and leaders changes in attitudes and beliefs toward teaching mathematics, integrating technology in content and pedagogy, teacher learning, and use of effective instructional practices. A multiple cohort, pre/post test design was used to determine teacher and student math content knowledge gains.

PD on Lesson Study

posted by: Beverly Vance on 11/14/2013 12:46 pm

I am very interested in Lesson Study. Who provided the professional development for implementing Lesson Study for your staff?

PD on Lesson Study

posted by: Nancy Bunt on 11/15/2013 7:30 am

We used Catherine Lewis of Mills College, CA and Bill Jackson, then of Paterson, NJ. to build awareness of the strategy. We had them as featured keynote presenters at our regional conference. For one group, Bill provided 1 day as part of a 3 day summer institute, including leading a model class. For our MSP, as a 3 hour breakout session, Bill taught a lesson to local students , and facilitated a de-briefing afterwards.

We found Catherine's Lesson Study materials helpful, and adapted them to our own use. We provided a Summer Institute on Lesson Study with follow-up school year support for our 52 K-12 school districts, and subsequently provided that training across the state..

CCOLs: our PLC model

posted by: Trey Cox on 11/6/2013 11:15 am

Recognizing that there are literally hundreds of different PLC models currently being employed with today's teachers, the Arizona Mathematics Partnership (AMP - MSP) has coined the term CCOL which stands for Collaborative Community of Learners. Using a different acronym enables us to define what our model is specifically without teachers and administrators assuming that our model is like other PLCs that they have read about or experienced (good or bad).

The single biggest factor for our success is that ALL of us in the project (e.g. teachers, administrators, project staff, researchers, and trainers) understand that our primary goal is to be continually learning. Learning is embedded throughout everything we do. The participating teachers engage in an intense, week-long Summer Institute and 4 all-day Saturday workshops per year designed to build up their mathematical content knowledge. In addition, the trainers model the CCSS Mathematical Practices in their workshops.

Our CCOLs are led by facilitators who are currently master teachers at the community college teaching the same level of mathematics as that being taught in the middle school (albeit with adult learners). This fact buys the CCOL facilitators instead credibility in that they are not only steeped in mathematics education research but also excellent classroom teachers. It is the role of the CCOL facilitators to bring in relevant mathematics research, classroom tasks, and experiences that benefit the participating teachers in significant ways. In addition, these same CCOL facilitators make monthly classroom visits to observe - NOT evaluate - their teachers by looking for one or two things that they are asked to watch for. This might include one of the CCSS Mathematical Practices, techniques, or classroom management. Some of the CCOL facilitators have stepped in and taught lessons while the teacher observes their technique.

The AMP project has 24 CCOLs from 7 different school districts. It is our philosophy that each of the CCOLs should be its own self-functioning and directing identity. Therefore, we avoid making centralized, authoritative decisions regarding how they are to spend their time. Rather broad operational parameters are defined, so that each CCOL facilitator is aware that they must focus on the Common Core Content Standards and Mathematical Practices. Other than that, the teachers and their facilitator can choose, define, and investigate what they want to in order to address their specific needs.

We are experiencing tremendous success as demonstrated by teachers deepened content knowledge and their altered teaching strategies. The biggest challenges we face in our CCOLs is that since each facilitator is also a classroom teacher is the ability to be in the classrooms enough to support teacher change. Some of our teachers struggle with classroom management and knowing how to create classroom environments that are conducive to employing the Mathematical Practices. The "AMP way of teaching" as it is referred to by our project's teachers is quite new to many so it will take time and the collaboration and coaching from their CCOL facilitators to get better.

Lesson Study - Vertical Math Teams

posted by: Lois Wright on 11/18/2013 12:06 am

I facilitated a lesson study as a graduate class requirement several years ago. Vertical math teams worked on lesson development and participated in class observations. It gave teachers from different grade levels a chance to see how varying levels of rigor were progressively incorporated from one grade level to the next. Lesson study can be used with vertical math teams as well as in cross-content lessons. The Summer Institute/Teacher Circle's structure is geared towards the collaborative approach of Lesson Study.

post updated by the author 11/18/2013