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Lesson Study (or kenkyu jugyo) is a teaching improvement process that has origins in Japanese elementary education, where it is a widespread professional development practice. Working in a small group, teachers collaborate with one another, meeting to discuss learning goals, to plan an actual classroom lesson (called a "research lesson"), to observe how it works in practice, and then to revise and report on the results so that other teachers can benefit from it. Despite differences between Japanese and American educational systems (see Education in Japan and Education in the United States), the practice is gaining in popularity in the United States in K-12 education and teacher training, and more recently it is finding a home in higher education as a form of faculty development.
This is a specific example of the on-going Japanese devotion to the Plan-Do-Check-Act PDCA decision-making discipline pioneered by W. Edwards Deming, which is based upon the Shewhart Cycle (named after Deming's collaborator from Bell Telephone Laboratories, Walter A. Shewhart).
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Answers:Two great resources for teachers are http://oyate.org/ and http://www.cradleboard.org/ Both sites have large American Indian input to provide authentic, non-stereotypical, cross curricular activities to teach about historical and contemporary American Indian issues.
Answers:If you choose money this is one way it could break down: Math: Value of coins and dollars (identification), the exchange of coins/dollars for other coins/dollars (ex: five pennies for a nickel or two five dollar bills for a ten dollar bill). Science: How money is made. Social Studies: How money has been used in the past (ex: bartering, jewels and other things being used in lieu of money and exchange rates for older students). Another topic could be a plants/garden Math: Young students can count or sort seeds (classify seeds by similar size or shape). Older students can measure a plot for a garden. Also students can record a growth chart for their seedlings and analyze the data through graphs. Science: Students can study the different parts of a plant and seed. Students can also learn about photosynthesis (there is a great book for younger students about this called "Living Sunlight" my first graders made a play out of this book). They can also learn about the life cycle of a plant. Social Studies: Students can learn about the plants and crops that are important to their state or local communities income. Also students can compare and contrast the types of plants that are grown in different regions of the united states and their significance to that state's or our countries economy. If you need any more ideas, feel free to contact me. Good luck!
Answers:They're very likely to copy what each other says! Personally I'd go through 'Key Words' with them that relate to saying something good about another person. For example, kind, playful, gentle, nice, funny, friendly, helpful, etc. Then you have have the children sit in a circle and say something about the person next to them (personally, I'd encourage them to pass & receive the smile as well) try and encourage them to say a full sentence, depending on their age and ability. For example, encourage them to say something similar to: "I like Charlie because she helps me put my coat on." Some children may not be able to say a full sentence, so you can either help them along with it or let them say "helpful" and why that child is helpful. I remember when I did a similar thing, but we were on about things we're really good at (promoting positive self esteem), every child said they were good at "playing football" - even the children who knew it wasn't their strongest point. So the 'Key Words' introduction before will most likely be VERY(!!) useful.
Answers:Well, it really depends on what your emphasis is for that year. The scope and sequence for each school district or state is different. In my 7th grade SS class, we spent the entire year on geography...snore. Sorry, but I really didn't need to spend the year memorizing the countries of Africa...so you might not want to start with that one :-) *Now I really like geography - I'm teaching it to my 5th grader this year - but that class was sooooo boring.* There are tons of great lesson plan sites online, where teachers - both classroom and homeschool - share lesson plans that they've made for free. If you google whatever your emphasis will be for that first months - say American Colonies - and then "lesson plan", you will have tons of sites to look through and find what you need. Hope that helps! If I knew what your emphasis was, I could probably be more specific.