Dr. Corey & Dr. Peterson in Japan

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The overarching question Dr. Corey and Dr. Peterson are trying to answer is “What are the characteristics of high quality mathematics instruction?” When you look at the international performance on mathematics achievement tests, the US is in the middle of the pack and Japan is usually at the top. Thus they have been interested in what Japanese mathematics educators view as high quality mathematics instruction. Dr. Corey and Dr. Peterson have written a paper on some previous work along these lines by analyzing the conversations between Japanese cooperating teachers and student teachers. They identified some principles that these experienced teachers focused on as they worked with the student teachers. As an extension of that, they have worked with several Japanese mathematics education professors to further refine what they believe to be characteristics of high-quality mathematics instruction. To do this Dr. Corey and Dr. Peterson met with Professors Hiroyuki Ninomiya – Saitama University, Kazuhiko Souma – Hokkaido University, and Susumu Kunimune – Shizuoka University from Japan over a year ago to analyze videos of lessons from the US and Japan. They are able to contrast what the US mathematics educators notice as critical features of a good lesson compared to what their Japanese counterparts notice (regardless of whether it is a US or Japanese lesson). Last winter Dr. Corey and Dr. Peterson once again worked with Professors Ninomiya, Souma, and Kunimune and visited 5 different junior high schools in the Tokyo area to participate in research lessons at those schools. Research lessons are lessons that have been carefully prepared by a teacher or group of teachers with the intention of the lesson implementation being observed by many people from within and outside of the school community. Usually 10-15 observers (principals, other teachers from the school, district personnel, preservice mathematics teachers from nearby universities, university professors) were in the classrooms for these research lessons. Following each of the lessons they observed with their colleagues, they participated in a reflection meeting with all observers of the lesson present to discuss the lesson. Their research is to analyze what these groups of Japanese mathematics educators focus on as critical characteristics of a good lesson. Their preliminary plans are to set up a similar set of research lessons here in Utah county next spring in which their three Japanese colleagues will participate.