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               Democracy Prep Charter Middle School


Democracy Prep Charter Middle School (grades 6-12) will share their best practices in mathematics instruction with a middle school in the South Bronx, MS 228 Jonas Bronck Academy (JBA). Democracy Prep will work with JBA to increase student achievement and close performance gaps in mathematics education through a lesson study model. According to Democracy Prep’s original proposal narrative, the project aims to improve mathematics teaching that will, in turn, raise student achievement levels in mathematics. Democracy Prep plans to use the findings from Hiebert and Lewis’s lesson study model that focus on building teachers’ content knowledge and their ability to reflect on their practice to improve their upcoming lessons.

Democracy Prep’s Project Coach will serve as the lead facilitator of the lesson studies by providing research, guiding discussion around the mathematical concepts, and providing expert feedback on the video lessons. For the first year of the partnership, Democracy Prep proposes to execute four lesson study cycles throughout the year in October, December, February, and April. Additionally, every eight weeks, the lesson study team will jointly analyze each school’s interim benchmark assessment data. The common problem areas identified among both partner schools will serve as the potential upcoming lesson study topics.

Based on the work of James Hiebert and Catherine Lewis, lesson study entails the following steps:

 Define the problem standard identified in data. Lesson study is ultimately a problem-solving process.

 Teachers then review the research on that standard and the best practices around it. The mathematics coach for this project will be responsible for collecting the research and guiding group discussions.

 Plan the lesson: It should be designed with a hypothesis in mind, some idea to be tested and worked out in the classroom. The goal is to understand why and how the lesson works to promote understanding among students. Everyone in the group participates fully in the preparation.

 Teach it and record it on videotape.

 Evaluate and reflect: Teachers will have an opportunity to learn from each other. They will post their videotapes on the website www.beasmartercookie.com, where they have a format for providing each other with detailed feedback. One teacher’s lesson will be selected for more elaborate group-wide discussion: What worked? What problems were there? What new student misunderstandings emerged? The teacher teams will meet in person and electronically through Google Hangout to complete this phase of the work.

 Revise the lesson.

 Teach the revised lesson: One teacher will be selected to deliver the final “anchor lesson,” which is professionally videotaped and edited.

Modifications to the Original Plan

Democracy Prep modified its original plan for year one. The reasons for these modifications included internal staffing challenges, delays in the grant approval process and release of grant funding, and challenges securing a partner school. Key changes related to year one of the mathematics initiative included:

 Democracy Prep encountered challenges securing a partner school. The partnership with Jonas Bronck Academy was planned to begin in September 2014, but, instead, was secured in the spring of 2014, with the first meeting occurring in February between both schools.

 Democracy Prep needed to drastically adjust the timeline of this project. Instead of the proposed four-lesson studies, the lesson study team executed one full lesson study that occurred in May 2014.

 To determine the topics for the lesson study, Democracy Prep planned on using each school’s benchmark interim assessments. Democracy Prep uses Achievement Network (ANet) and currently JBA does not use benchmark interim assessments; therefore, Democracy Prep has decided to use pre-assessments and post-assessments to assess student performance on a particular objective.

 Democracy Prep and Jonas Bronck Academy narrowed their scope to focus only on the 8th grade standards (linear algebra and linear functions) identified in the “Key Instruction Shifts of the CCSS for Mathematics” by Jason Zimba of Student Achievement Partners.


Last Updated: May 25, 2016