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ABOUT ISCA (Continued)

Lesson Design Study is a process that enables teachers to create standards-based lessons and assessments tailored to student needs. Through their lessons, teachers strive to inspire their students to transform learning into an "intrinsic pleasure"–moments of sheer delight for crafting a compelling argument, investigating a thorny problem, composing a computer–generated song, all the while gaining insights about themselves, their community, and the larger world.

These kinds of lessons require that teachers spark each student’s passion to know, to understand, to invent. These lessons require time for teachers to work in concert: researching topics, deepening subject matter knowledge, acquiring technological skills, anticipating and addressing what confuses students, disseminating the collective wisdom of teachers.

The institutional dissemination of professional knowledge by members of the profession is one of the hallmarks of professions such as science, medicine, and law1. Teachers in America, however, are not expected to advance the collective knowledge of their profession. This state of lowered expectations of teachers is not universal.

In other countries, teachers, as part of their day-to-day responsibilities, work together to design lessons and field-test them in their respective classrooms2. These refined lessons are published and presented at district, regional, and national lesson study symposia.

This collaborative process is called lesson or unit study3. In an article, Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford researcher, describes lesson study:

  In their study of mathematics teaching in Japan, Taiwan, and the United States, Stigler and Stevenson (1991) note: [One of the reasons] Asian class lessons are so well crafted is that there is a very systematic effort to pass on the accumulated wisdom of teaching practice to each new generation of teachers and to keep perfecting that practice by providing teachers the opportunities to continually learn from each other.

UTLA Lesson Design Study exists to provide the professional support enjoyed by teachers in those other countries (For more information, click here).
1The introduction is heavily drawn from Lesson Study: Language Arts Handbook Integrating Standards, Curricula, and Assessments, Volume 2, by Charlotte Higuchi, LA: United Teachers Educational Foundation, Dec. 2001.
2Stigler, James and Hibert, James. "Teaching Is a Cultural Activity." American Educator, (Winter, 1998).
3A unit is a series of lessons targeted to teach concepts and skills embedded in set of content standards.

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