Adapting Japanese Lesson Study to enhance the teaching and learning of geometry and spatial reasoning in early years classrooms: a case study
Increased efforts are needed to meet the demand for high quality mathematics in early years classrooms. Despite the foundational role of geometry and spatial reasoning for later mathematics success, the strand receives inadequate instructional time and is limited to concepts of static geometry. Moreover, early years teachers typically lack both content knowledge and confidence in teaching geometry and spatial reasoning. We describe our attempt to deal with these issues through a research initiative known as the Math for Young Children project. The project integrates effective features of both design research and Japanese Lesson Study and is designed to support teachers in developing content knowledge and new approaches for teaching geometry and spatial reasoning. Central to our Professional Development model is the integration of four adaptations to the Japanese Lesson Study model: (1) teachers engaging in the mathematics, (2) teachers designing and conducting task-based clinical interviews, (3) teachers and researchers co-designing and carrying out exploratory lessons and activities, and (4) the creation of resources for other educators. We present our methods and the results of our adaptations through a case study of one Professional Learning Team. Our results suggest that the adaptations were effective in: (1) supporting teachers’ content knowledge of and comfort level with geometry and spatial reasoning, (2) increasing teachers’ perceptions of young children’s mathematical competencies, (3) increasing teachers’ awareness and commitment for the inclusion of high quality geometry and spatial reasoning as a critical component of early years mathematics, and (4) the creation of innovative resources for other educators. We conclude with theoretical considerations and implications of our results.
KeywordsTeacher professional development Geometry Spatial reasoning Early years mathematics Lesson study
- Bruce, C. D., & Ladky, M. S. (2011). What’s going on backstage? Revealing the work of Lesson Study with Mathematics Teachers. In Lesson Study Research and Practice in Mathematics Education (pp. 243–249). Netherlands: Springer.Google Scholar
- Bruce, C., Moss, J., & Ross, J. (2012). Survey of JK to Grade 2 teachers in Ontario, Canada: Report to the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat of the Ministry of Education. Toronto: Ontario Ministry of Education.Google Scholar
- Clarke, D., Clarke, B., & Roche, A. (2011). Building teachers’ expertise in understanding, assessing and developing children’s mathematical thinking: the power of task-based, one-to-one assessment interviews. ZDM–The International Journal on Mathematics Education, 43(6–7), 901–913.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Clements, D. H. (2004). Geometric and spatial thinking in early childhood education. In D. Clements, J. Sarama, & M. A. DiBaise (Eds.), Engaging young children in mathematics: results of the conference on standards for pre-school and kindergarten mathematics education (pp. 83–90). New Jersey: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Clements, D. H., & Sarama, J. (2007). Effects of a preschool mathematics curriculum: summative research on the Building Blocks project. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 38(2), 136–163.Google Scholar
- Clements, D. H., & Sarama, J. A. (2009). Learning and teaching early math: the learning trajectories approach. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Cobb, P., Jackson, K., & Munoz, C. (2015). Design research: a critical analysis. In L. English & D. Kirshner (Eds.), Handbook of International Research in Mathematics Education (3rd Ed.). Manuscript submitted for publication. New York: Taylor & Francis (in press).Google Scholar
- Copley, J. V. (2004). The early childhood collaborative: a professional development model to communicate and implement the standards. In D. H. Clements & J. Sarama (Eds.), Engaging young children in mathematics: standards for early childhood (pp. 404–414). New Jersey: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Cross, C. T., Woods, T. A., & Schweingruber, H. (Eds). (2009). Mathematics learning in early childhood: paths toward excellence and equity. Committee on Early Childhood Mathematics. National Research Council and National Academy of Sciences.Google Scholar
- Darling-Hammond, L., Chung Wei, R., Andree, A., & Richardson, N. (2009). Status Report on Teacher Development in the United States and Abroad features of good professional development. United States of America: National Staff Development Council and The School Redesign Network at Stanford University.Google Scholar
- Duncan, G. J., Dowsett, C. J., Claessens, A., Magnuson, K., Huston, A. C., Klebanov, P., & Japel, C. (2007). School readiness and later achievement. Developmental Psychology, 43(6), 1428–1446. doi: 10.1037/0012-16184.108.40.2068.
- Ginsburg, H. P., Lee, J. S., & Boyd, J. S. (2008). Mathematics education for young children: what it is and how to promote it. Social Policy Report of the Society for Research in Child Development, 22(1), 1–23.Google Scholar
- Jacobs, V. R., Lamb, L. C., & Philipp, R. A. (2010). Professional noticing of children’s mathematical thinking. Journal of Research in Mathematics Education, 41(2), 169–202.Google Scholar
- Jones, K. (2000). Critical issues in the design of the geometry curriculum. In Bill Barton (Ed.), Readings in Mathematics Education (pp. 75–90). Auckland: University of Auckland.Google Scholar
- Lee, J. S., & Ginsburg, H. P. (2009). Early childhood teachers’ misconceptions about mathematics education for young children in the United States. Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 33(4), 37–45.Google Scholar
- MacDonald, A., Davies, N., Dockett, S., & Perry, B. (2012). Early childhood mathematics education. In B. Perry (Ed.), Research in mathematics education in Australasia 2008–2011 (pp. 169–192). Boston: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
- Mix, K. S., & Cheng, Y. L. (2012). Space and math: The developmental and educational implications. In J. B. Benson (Ed.), Advances in child development and behavior (pp. 179–243). New York: Elsevier.Google Scholar
- Moss, J., Messina, R., Morley, E., & Tepylo, D. (2012). Sustaining professional collaborations over 6 years: Using Japanese Lesson Study to improve the teaching and learning of mathematics. In J. Bay-Williams & W. R. Speer (Eds.), Professional collaborations in mathematics teaching and learning: Seeking success for all (pp. 297–309). Reston: The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Inc.Google Scholar
- National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2010). Early childhood mathematics: Promoting good beginnings. Washington, DC: NAEYC. Retrieved 3 March 2014. http://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/file/positions/psmath.pdf.
- National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (2000). Chapter 4: Standards for pre-K-2. In Principles and Standard for School Mathematics. Reston: NCTM.Google Scholar
- National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (2006). Curriculum focal points for prekindergarten through grade 8 mathematics. Reston: Author.Google Scholar
- National Research Council. (2006). Learning to think spatially: GIS as a support system in the K-12 curriculum. Washington, DC: National Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Newcombe, N., Uttal, D., & Sauter, M. (2013). Spatial development. Oxford handbook of developmental psychology, 1, 564–590.Google Scholar
- Sinclair, N. (2008). The history of the geometry curriculum in the United States. IAP—Information Age Publishing Inc.Google Scholar
- Van den Heuvel-Panhuizen, M. (2008). Children learn mathematics: a learning-teaching trajectory with intermediate attainment targets for calculation with whole numbers in primary school. Utrecht: Freudenthal Institute.Google Scholar
- Van den Heuvel-Panhuizen, M., & Buijs, K. (2005). Young children learn measurement and geometry: a learning-teaching trajectory with intermediate attainment targets for the lower grades in primary school. Utrecht: Freudenthal Institute.Google Scholar
- Verdine, B. N., Golinkoff, R., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Newcombe, N., Filipowocz, A. T., & Chang, A. (2013). Deconstructing builidng blocks: Preschoolers’ spatial assembly performance relates to early mathematics skills. Child Development. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12165 (Advance online publication).
- Verdine, B. N., Golinkoff, R. M., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Newcombe, N. S. (2014). Finding the missing piece: Blocks, puzzles, and shapes fuel school readiness. Trends in Neuroscience and Education. doi: 10.1016/j.tine.2014.02.005 (Advance online publication).