Lesson study is a community of practice in which a team of educators takes an active role in collaboratively planning, teaching, observing and revising a series of connected lessons. Louisiana 4-H agents have embraced the practice of lesson study, and they are growing professionally while teaching youth in a purposeful and strategic manner.
During the 2020-21 academic year, lesson study leaders conducted programs across 60 parishes and advised 83 agents within Louisiana 4-H. Approximately 7,560 youth were provided high quality lessons through hands-on, face-to-face and virtual methods. Agents overcame barriers presented by the pandemic and challenges posed by natural disasters, reaching youth through the network of lesson study partnerships.
One of the largest impacts that lesson study provides is a support network for agents. Agents shared that they were able to support their learning and the learning of colleagues, ease workload, share resources and ideas, and manage their time with other work demands because of participation in lesson study.
Vermilion Parish 4-H Agent Shannan Waits provided leadership with a 4-H science lab lesson study. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, agents spent time together converting lessons from in-person to virtual deliveries and had to shift from small groups to individual student-led experiments. While the method was effective, it was also more expensive. Despite the challenges presented, the 4-H science lab lessons were delivered to 2,745 members from fourth through 12th grade. Lesson topics included chemistry, electricity, physics, and plant and food science. 4-H’ers said they enjoyed working at home with their families conducting the lessons and were excited about their experiences.
Louisiana 4-H state staff member Tanya Giroir provided leadership on an “adulting” study for youth aged 12-19. Often, young adults and teens are moving into adulthood without the knowledge of daily life skills. The study provided lessons on living on your own, car ownership, workplace etiquette, internet safety and shopping for quality clothing. The high school students in the study said they felt more confident moving into their futures with skills and abilities sharpened by the program.
Healthy Living Program Coordinator Clair Zak provided a study called What’s on Your Plate and reached 430 youth. The program focused on the scientific principles used in food preparation. Also, youth were exposed to food science concepts by discovering gluten, the effects of heat on fruit, vegetables and eggs, and the enzymatic process in fruit.
Brian Gautreau, extension associate, served as the Youth Wetlands Program lesson study leader. One lesson study leader, Katlin Lucas, was able to take Youth Wetlands Program lessons and create a Wetlands Field Day for West Feliciana Middle School.
Adriana Drusini and Ashley Istre, 4-H agents serving St. Mary parish, led a study on personal development in a lesson titled Picture Perfect YOUth. The agents made many modifications and additions with their lesson study group to accommodate the needs of youth living in hurricane affected while also living through the pandemic. The personal development lessons were timely and relevant as youth navigated through many difficulties encountered. “I learned that setbacks happen in life and to achieve goals you have to keep trying and never give up, no matter what,” one participant said.
Esther Boe, 4-H regional coordinator, promotes lesson study because of the academic focus. She has witnessed the growth in parish programs and increased enrollment firsthand and believes that the impacts of collaborating to learn and teach 4-H curricula will result in greater retention of our 4-H youth as they transition through elementary, junior high and high school.