Lesson Design Workshops
TePlab researchers want their research to be useful for practice. Besides (and within) research projects focusing on the study of teaching practices, we set up co-creative collaborations between didactic researchers, teachers, pedagogic developers, school coaches, NGOs, government agencies, etc. One way of doing so, is through Lesson Design Workshops (LDWs).
LDWs are a form of what we call ‘didactic makerspaces’. Inspired by design thinking and didactic modelling, they are invented to bring together didactic researchers and teachers – often also accompanied by content experts and school coaches – with the aim to co-produce high-quality lesson plans and teaching materials that will be shared as ‘educational commons’.
What is crucial, is that LDWs always start from a concrete didactical/pedagogical challenge that teachers experience in practice. They are ‘work’shops and ‘maker’spaces in the sense that participants actually create tangible output together: directly applicable lesson plans and teaching materials. They are transdisciplinary as they are set up as a collaboration between didactic researchers, teachers, and content experts, each contributing with unique but complementary expertise. Multidimensional quality care is thus built into LDWs. The created materials are up-to-date with research-based knowledge and useful in the classroom. Our empirical research shows the potential of such transdisciplinary collaboration.
LDWs can take shape in diverse ways. Lesson plans and teaching materials can be developed from scratch aided by the input of didactic models, or by starting from already available content (e.g. teaching materials from NGOs) that is turned into lesson plans tailored to specific teaching contexts. This diversity is reflected in the varied ways in which LDWs have been applied by TePlab researchers, for example:
- LDWs have been organised in various countries (e.g. Mongolia, Ecuador, Sweden, Belgium) in view of co-producing ‘Locally Relevant Teaching’ (LORET) with primary and secondary school teachers and non-school partners. Starting from locally relevant, real-life sustainability problems, we design teaching practices that take students on an authentic search for ways to tackle these problems. We use didactic models based on research that shows how working with real-life problems brings unique pedagogical opportunities.
- In a LDW on ‘Improving the quality of students’ argumentation’, we work with a didactic model inspired by Stephen Toulmin’s work on quality arguments and how it has been applied in didactic research. Starting from a customisable evaluation rubric for assessing oral and written student work, a back-casting exercise results in the (re)design of lesson plans and teaching materials tailored to the participants’ teaching context. This LDW has been organised for secondary school teachers as well as for lecturers in higher education.
- In a LDW on bullying on the internet, we start from existing teaching materials offered by Prinsparetsstiftelse and work with teachers from compulsory education to co-produce quality lesson plans and teaching methods tailored to their specific context (diverse subjects, ages, objectives, etc.).
The output of LDWs, i.e. co-produced lesson plans and teaching materials, are meant to be made freely available as ‘educational commons’ on digital platforms. By doing so, also other teachers can take advantage of the intensive and resource-intensive work done in the workshops.
In several projects, we also empirically investigate didactic makerspaces such as LDWs. The focus, then, is on how educational researchers, content experts, and educational practitioners can co-produce high-quality teaching practices. We empirically examine how such transdisciplinary co-production can be designed and facilitated, and what are the enabling conditions for it to contribute to better education.