# Anticipating Student Thinking and Scripting the Research Lesson

Updated: Jun 24

*This blog series documents how our network of schools *__became interested in lesson study__*. We have shared how our lesson study *__teams got started__* – by creating a shared vision of their* __hopes and dreams for students__*, determining a *__research question and theory of action__*, narrowing in on *__a specific content area for their research lesson__*, and then *__exploring the mathematical content and selecting a mathematical understanding goal__* and *__an equity goal__* for their research lessons. We have also documented our first three public lesson study events, a *__3rd grade lesson on comparing fractions__*, an *__8th grade lesson on negative exponents__*, and a *__10th grade lesson on quadratics__*. *

*Teachers observe a 3rd grade lesson study comparing fractions. *

After our research teams had __ explored the mathematical content, selected a mathematical understanding goal__, and determined an

__they were ready to__

**equity goal**__. To begin, the teams reviewed what they knew about their focus students – what they had learned from their empathy interviews and their hopes for their focus student growth as learners and mathematicians. They also reviewed current work samples related to the content they planned to explore in the research lesson. By grounding themselves in this understanding, teams could think about what__

**plan the research lesson****new**understanding each student might develop during the lesson.

To begin planning the lesson, each teacher completed their teams research lesson problem* by anticipating how the focus student they would be observing might approach the problem. *If we are to effectively plan instruction for our students, it is important that we have considerable knowledge about what they understand and how they engage in problem-solving. Implicit in this part of the planning process is the question:

*With the multitude of things that teachers attend to during the average lesson, focusing deeply on the thinking of each student does not always happen naturally. It is a habit that benefits from cultivation and practice. During a lesson we are often listening*

**How well do you know what your students understand?**

__for____a right answer, instead of__

*. This can shortchange our own learning about how our students learn mathematics. Interestingly, our network teachers have reported that when they have made the shift to listening to*

__to how a student is thinking__*how a student is thinking about a problem*, they find teaching math more enjoyable.

In addition to listening to students as they pair share during class discussions, or asking students, “*How did you think about the problem?”* one of the easiest ways to build these noticing muscles is to **regularly look at student work.** Great times to engage in looking at student work include during Professional Learning Community meetings (PLCs), discipline meetings, or in the lesson study planning process. A looking at student work protocol for establishing this routine __can be found here__. Lesson study teams who regularly look at student work and analyze student problem-solving strategies can often more accurately anticipate how each focus student will solve a particular problem, which helps in the lesson planning process.

By looking at recent examples of student problem-solving, and __anticipating how each focus student might solve the problem, teams were ready to script their research lessons__. Our research lessons use a __launch, explore, discuss__ format and focus on deeply exploring multiple ways to solve a problem. This format is also called __teaching through problem solving__ and has many benefits for __student learning, motivation, and identity development__. During this type of lesson, 2-4 different student problem-solving strategies are shared with the whole class followed by a class discussion about how the strategies are similar, different, and what they illuminate about problem-solving and the math concepts being explored. Using the anticipated focus student responses and problem-solving strategies, the teams think about which focus student strategies could be shared during the lesson and what sequence would best support student exploration of the mathematical understanding goal.

*The 3rd grade cross site lesson study research team shares their anticipated student thinking. *

Using the anticipated student responses, teams determine what questions to ask that would support students in thinking about and discussing the mathematical understanding goal. Most teams started with general questions such as:

What is similar and what is different in these students strategies?

Who can build on that idea?

How do we know that?

Do we agree or disagree? Why?

After asking questions to surface students' ideas, the lesson study teams created questions that would push students to discuss the core mathematical ideas. While these targeted questions were more focused on the chosen mathematical understanding goal, teachers were careful to design them to still require students to reason and justify their thinking:

Is 3/2 more than a whole? How do you know?

How can benchmark fractions help us?

How is the pattern growing? How do you know?

How do we know what the rate of change is in these different representations?

Is the rate of change constant? How do you know?

How does the idea of rate of change relate to our previous discussion about proportions?

What other explanations can we think of for these data?

When would you want to use Sarah’s problem solving strategy? How about Jose’s? When would you want to use Jamelle’s? Why?

For an example of anticipated focus student responses and a team’s planned questioning strategy, see pages 12-16 in the __3rd grade public lesson study memorialization document__. *(The whole 3rd grade public lesson can be found here.)** *All of the research team’s questions focused students on discussing the mathematical understanding goal: *Students understand that fractions can be represented as less than one whole and greater than one whole and can use this as a source of comparison.*

With the lessons taking shape, lesson study teams were ready to think about the next step – data to collect during the research lesson.

*For educators looking to try lesson study in their own contexts, we found that:*

*Looking at focus student work**helped teams anticipate what focus students might say or do during the research lesson and helped teams plan their lessons.***Teachers found it useful to use a**__Looking at Student Work Protocol__**The mathematical understanding goal is a useful ‘north star’ for developing questions**that focus the class discussion.

*Previous: *__Research & Clarify Part II: Determining an Equity Goal__

*Up Next: *__Deciding on Data to Collect__

*Daisy Sharrock works at the *__Center for Research on Equity and Innovation__* at the *__High Tech High Graduate School of Education__*, and is part of a *__Student-Centered Learning Research____Collaborative-sponsored__* research team that is currently engaged in the following study: Leveraging the Power of Improvement Networks to Spread Lesson Study. Read more about their current study *

__here__*. We are grateful to*

__JFF__*,*

__KnowledgeWorks’__*, and the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative and its funders for their support. Learn more at*

__sclresearchcollab.org__