Digital Papers

Lesson Study

Lesson Study is an intensive professional development model in which teachers learn through a process of planning and observing lessons together. Originating in Japan, lesson study involves systematic inquiry into teaching practice. Stigler and Hiebert (1999) describe lesson study as a way for teachers to look at their own practice “with new eyes”.

Lesson study has proved to be a powerful experience for teacher, because it “is embedded in the classroom and focused on students, it is collaborative and ongoing, and it is based on teachers’ own concerns and questions” (Darling-Hammond & McLaughlin, 1995). In this way, lesson study is a teacher-led or teacher-initiated activity that has the potential to increase research-based knowledge that is critical to improving instruction (Lewis et al., 2006a). Teachers “engage in lesson study as researchers and scholars of their own classrooms. Their inquiries honour the fascinating and complex nature of teaching” (Stepanek, 2001).

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Collaborative Action Research

The process of action research allows educators to:

  1. reflect on an issue or a problem relevant to their teaching;
  2. to determine what research question(s) they are trying to answer;
  3. to implement an intervention designed to address the problem;
  4. to collect and analyse data to determine if their intervention is having an effect, and;
  5. to implement changes in their practice based on their findings.

One of the distinctive features of action research in comparison to other forms of research is that teacher-researchers aim to do more than simply describe or explain a phenomenon;

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Effective Questioning

Effective questioning is a researched-effective approach to mathematics teaching that directly impacts student interest and willingness to pursue tasks. In this study, we found that examining, planning and executing effective questions has immediate impact on the level of student engagement and achievement. Teacher participants were the creators of the questions they used, rather than using externally-created questions; the strategies became their own and were integrated into regular and on-going teaching.

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Professional Learning About Fractions

During the 2011-2012 school year, the Ontario Ministry of Education Curriculum and Assessment Policy Branch attained a grant from Knowledge Network for Applied Education Research (KNAER) to build and extend understanding of effective teaching and learning of fractions.
Following a review of the research literature and the development of documents that supported teachers with linking this research to their practice more easily, the professional learning series began in three school boards. The teams used a collaborative action research model. These three boards were selected based on readiness factors which included thoughtful and precise long-term professional learning plans focused on mathematics, strong board-level mathematics leadership, and meaningful connections with existing professional learning opportunities...

What is a Digital Paper?

Video documentation has become an integral component of data collection in educational research. Video episodes are viewed, clipped, analyzed, transcribed and analyzed again. And yet when it comes to writing up findings, researchers are typically forced to describe the visual nature of their data; the reader does not have access to the data and is unable to see the video itself, resulting in a “flattening” out on the experience of what was a lively, dynamic, and engaging process.

Digital video is now emerging as a powerful engagement and portrayal tool; one that is helping teachers to connect with and improve their understandings and interpretation of their practice (Carraher et al., 2000; Pea, 2003).

In 2004, Olivero et al. developed a format called videopapers. A videopaper is a marriage of the traditional paper written by researchers and academics (but not exclusively so) and videotaped classroom footage of teachers and students working in real classroom situations. Combining the video with the text creates a fluid document that is more explicit than the text or video alone.

Building on Olivero’s videopaper work, in an attempt to bring video-based research to life, we have generated a conceptual and virtual framework called Digital Papers. Digital papers is a web-based tool, that allows researchers to show their findings alongside video clips, transcripts of the video clips, and conceptual models that frame their work. It is the conceptual model that drives the digital papers and distinguishes them. The diagrams are interactive and frame the ideas of the digital papers so that viewers control their experience through the diagram, navigating through a complex series of layered screens with ease. A second distinguishing feature is that our digital papers focus on one key concept (e.g., Engaging Students in Math Talk) or research story (e.g., Lesson Study as a PD Process).

Digital papers were developed by Dr. Catherine D. Bruce, an Associate Professor at Trent University’s School of Education and Professional Learning, along with teacher-researchers Tara Flynn and Rich McPherson, also associated with Trent University and the Trent Math Education Research Collaborative (TMERC). The research team is collaborating with a development team at the Ontario Ministry of Education to increase capacity and production.
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