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Collaborative Lesson Studies: Powerful Professional Learning for Implementing the Next Generation Science Standards

by Ashley Iveland; Burr Tyler; Denise Estrella; Elizabeth Arnett; Katy Nilsen; Kimberly Nguyen; Ted Britton

Sep 1, 2019

This evaluation report describes a central professional learning strategy that the California NGSS Early Implementers Initiative used to help teachers effectively transition to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The Initiative's approach to lesson study, called a Teaching Learning Collaborative (TLC), brings together teams of teachers who collaboratively plan, teach, critique, and then re-teach NGSS lessons. Trained facilitators ensure that participants feel professionally safe and supported to experiment with the substantial and sometimes daunting instructional shifts required by the NGSS. The especially strong emphasis on active collaboration is why the Initiative uses the term "TLC" rather than the more general, commonly used term "lesson studies."

Initiative leaders chose to focus heavily on TLCs because, while teacher professional learning often takes place outside of the classroom, TLCs, like all lesson studies, provide true hands-on learning in a classroom setting where teachers can grapple with authentic instructional issues.

All NGSS Early Implementer districts followed the same TLC model during Years 1 through 4 of the Initiative. In Year 5, when grant funding began to scale back and professional learning became less centralized, districts made a variety of modifications to TLCs to meet their local needs and circumstances.

This report describes:

- The original TLC model used Initiative-wide in Years 1-4, and its benefits

- District modifications to TLCs in Year 5

- Feedback from participants about what was gained and lost through those modifications

- Recommendations for using TLCs as NGSS professional learning

Like the entire evaluation series for the NGSS Early Implementers Initiative, this report provides useful information to school and district administrators, leaders of science professional learning, and state policymakers. The report is based on an extensive amount of data: evaluators' observation of 27 TLCs; responses from a dozen surveys; and over 100 interviews with teachers, administrators, district Project Directors, and K-12 Alliance Regional Directors.