Over the past two years, we have used the principles of Japanese Lesson Study to improve the teaching of writing.
We structured six sessions across the professional development calendar that had a specific focus: how to develop children’s sense of purpose when writing and how to help pupils to better understand the impact of sentence construction on their readers.
The aim of the six sessions was to design three research lessons around writing. Each professional development session had a reflective task, questions, guidance and discussion opportunities. Each session was designed to include the unique challenges that teachers within our school (a free school in Cambridge) might face and potential research-informed ways of overcoming these.
The first stage of the process was to identify relevant literature for discussion. The team collaborated to generate a pack of resources that served to structure each of the six CPD sessions.
Using this initial research information as a starting point, teachers were then given the opportunity to reflect on their existing practice through questions such as: consider an example when you have shown vulnerability when modelling writing.
Inspired by the literature, teachers began to consider different styles of modelling, such as shared/guided writing and “think alouds” (a metacognitive approach whereby the teacher describes their thought processes as they write).
As a result, teachers became more willing to experiment with how they modelled writing day-to-day in their classroom, and were encouraged to more consciously demonstrate the vulnerability of writers.
When feeding back on the process, teachers repeatedly mentioned feeling “refreshed” by having their attention drawn to different aspects of the writing process. They also noted the collaboration aspect as particularly useful; teachers were not being told to do something and go off alone, but instead had the opportunity to discuss with the wider school community.
To download a free study guide for these approaches, visit unlockingresearch.org