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Research Lesson Study Overview


What is a Research Lesson?


A research lesson is designed to explore a specific mathematical and/or equity related teaching goal. During a research lesson, a teaching team introduces students to new learning and tests out a new lesson structure, pedagogical move, or task, and then collects data to determine how it impacted student learning. The lesson is also observed by two outside individuals: a content commentator and an equity commentator. The commentators provide feedback for the team during their debrief, including considerations for achieving or further building on the content and equity goals of the lesson.

The lesson study research cycle consists of 8-10 hours of collaborative planning time and culminates in a research lesson event in which the team closely observes student thinking, followed by a lesson debrief. The two month cycle provides educator research teams enough time to explore a content area deeply and to become familiar with the thinking of 3-4 focus students to inform and guide their inquiry lesson.


This resource provides detailed agendas for 8 weekly one hour meetings that culminate in a research lesson study and debrief event. Teams can complete 2-3 research lessons over the course of an academic year and significant learning occurs throughout the inquiry process. 


To view videos from research lessons including an overview of the research team inquiry process, visit our memorialization blog posts from some of our public research lessons:


What is Lesson Study?
  • Components of a research lesson
  • Agendas for lesson study teams
Gather & Organize
  • Assemble the willing!
  • Set norms 
  • Choose meeting times
  • Administrator support
Gather & Organize
Research & Clarify
  • Hopes and Dreams for Students
  • Identify strengths & funds of knowledge
  • Determine a research question and theory of action
  • Determine a content and an equity goal
Research & Clarify
Anticipate & Plan
  • Plan the research lesson
  • Anticipate student thinking
  • Conduct a mock lesson!
Anticipate & Plan
Observe & Collect Data
  • Closely observe a focal student and collect data on their thinking
Observe & Collect Data
Debrief & Look at Student Work
  • What did focus students say or do? 
  • How well did the lesson achieve the content & the equity goals?
Reflect & Share

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

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