The author presents a procedure for learning from variations that occur when instructors implement lesson plans designed by others. This kind of variation, occurring in many classrooms every day, can provide a source of information for improving curriculum, both in terms of instructional activities for students and especially in terms of clarifications for instructors to support more effective implementation. The author provides detailed descriptions, in the context of a mathematics course for preservice K-8 teachers, for using implementation variations in a practical, research-based way to study and improve teaching. The goal is to build an accumulating knowledge base for teacher education. Examples are presented to illustrate how increasingly rich lesson plans, based on observing implementation variations, can move toward achieving this goal.
Anne K. Morris
Jinfa Cai, Anne Morris, Charles Hohensee, Stephen Hwang, Victoria Robison and James Hiebert
In our March editorial (Cai et al., 2018), we considered the problem of isolation in the work of teachers and researchers. In particular, we proposed ways to take advantage of emerging technological resources, such as online archives of student data linked to instructional activities and indexed by learning goals, to produce a professional knowledge base (Cai et al., 2017b, 2018). This proposal would refashion our conceptions of the nature and collection of data so that teachers, researchers, and teacher-researcher partnerships could benefit from the accumulated learning of ordinarily isolated groups. Although we have discussed the general parameters for such a system in previous editorials, in this editorial, we present a potential mechanism for accumulating learning into a professional knowledge base, a mechanism that involves collaboration between multiple teacher-researcher partnerships. To illustrate our ideas, we return once again to the collaboration between fourth-grade teacher Mr. Lovemath and mathematics education researcher Ms. Research, who are mentioned in our previous editorials(Cai et al., 2017a, 2017b).