The Power of Lesson Study


Knowledge for teaching is embodied in instruction and is spread and refined as teachers watch and discuss practice 

(Lewis & Hurd, 2011)


In order to improve student learning, teachers need opportunities to observe and discuss instruction. Lesson study provides a structure for teachers to collaborate around pressing problems of practice and to engage in cycles of inquiry to explore the the intersection of pedagogy and student learning.


Engaging in lesson study supports educators to:

  • Focus on the impact of their lessons on student learning, as opposed to the intent

  • Build the mathematical knowledge necessary to teach for student understanding

  • Develop the pedagogical skills to enact ambitious instruction in classrooms

  • Craft a communal vision of student-centered teaching for equity

There are different types of lesson study – from quick cycles completed in one or two days, to more extensive, in-depth research lesson study cycles that expand teacher expertise in a particular content or pedagogical area. 


Regardless of the type of lesson study the key elements that ensure meaningful learning occurs include:

  • Choosing focus students whose thinking the group wants to understand better

  • Looking at focus student work and anticipating focus student thinking to inform the lesson design

  • Creating a mathematical understanding goal and an equity goal to guide data collection

  • Closely observing the thinking of one focus student throughout the lesson

  • Engaging in a debrief to reflect on learning and determine next steps

Resources for conducting a research lesson can be found below.

Gather & Organize
Research & Clarify
Anticipate & Plan
Observe & Collect Data
Reflect & Share

We are grateful to JFF, KnowledgeWorks, and the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative and its funders for their support. Learn more at

Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commerical Licence 4.0 

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