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Best Practices



As we work with teachers, it is often difficult to...

Issue Addressed:

As we work with teachers, it is often difficult to convince them that Investigations or FOSS actually work with the children in their classrooms. Personal stories are helpful; videotapes can often be distracting. We have found work with children in the classrooms to be a powerful professional development model.


Whenever it is possible, within workshop design, MASE II Teachers on Special Assignment do demonstration lessons in actual classrooms in our project schools. A group of teachers (anywhere from 4-30) will meet together at one school. Demonstration lessons are normally designed as follows: 1) Meet with teachers before the lesson. Discuss which unit (in either Investigations or FOSS), and which lesson is being taught. Discuss what "big" mathematical or scientific idea is being studied and how this lesson fits into that "big" idea. Teachers are often asked to focus on a particular aspect such as teacher or student roles, questioning techniques, interaction patterns, etc. Teachers then go into the classroom to observe the lesson. 2) After the lesson, a debriefing session is held discussing areas such as what happened during the lesson, what implications came from the lesson, what instructional decisions were made, what evidence of student learning was visible, and any questions or observations teachers have. We have found it most useful to have the teacher on special assignment teach the lesson as they were hired for their expertise and teachers will see good teaching. The teacher on special assignment is also a neutral person. Because of established rapport, teachers usually have no trouble evaluating the lesson with a critical eye. Over and over again, teachers tell us that of all the work we do, these demonstration lessons are the most powerful.

Unresolved Issues:

What follow-up is needed for these sessions? Considering we are working with 2000 teachers, how do we scale-up? How do we move teachers to begin some sort of peer coaching?


Keith Cochran, 1/12/1998


Professional Development



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