The Lesson Play Experience: Professional Development of a Teacher



Representation of practice, lesson play, scripting


In this study we introduce “lesson play experience” (LPE) for implementation as professional development for in-service teachers. LPE is an extension of the “lesson play” notion, which refers to a script for an imagined lesson, written by a teacher, presented as dialogue of teacher-student(s) interaction. In mathematics teacher education, lesson play has been used primarily with prospective teachers as a complement to traditional lesson planning. The LPE includes, in addition to a script for (part of) a lesson, observations of the actual taught lesson, and interviews with the teacher-playwriter in which the script and the lesson are discussed. We report on two rounds of one teacher LPE and the resulting modification. The investigation has shown that the LPE can be an effective tool for in-service teacher professional development.

Author Biographies

Rebekaah Stenner, Simon Fraser University

Rebekaah Stenner in a Doctoral candidate in Mathematics Education program at the Simon Fraser University. She is interested in enhancing mathematical experience for all students. She holds an appointment of a district supervisor for mathematics teachers. 

Rina Zazkis, Simon Fraser University

Rina Zazkis is a Professor of Mathematics Education at the Faculty of Education and associate member in the Department of Mathematics at the Simon Fraser University, Canada. She holds an appointment of Tier 1 Canada Research Chair, a prestigious recognition of excellence in research and research training.


Ball, D. L. (1988). Unlearning to teach mathematics. For the learning of mathematics, 8(1), 40-48.

Bednarz, N., Fiorentini, D., & Huang, R. (Eds.). (2011). International approaches to professional development for mathematics teachers. University of Ottawa Press.

Blomeke, S., Gustafsson, J., & Shavelson, R. (2015). Beyond dichotomies: Competence viewed as a continuum. Zeitschrift für Psychologie, 223(1), 3–13.

Borko, H. (2004). Professional development and teacher learning: Mapping the terrain. Educational Researcher, 3-15.

Borko, H., Koellner, K., & Jacobs, J. (2014). Examining novice teacher leaders’ facilitation of mathematics professional development. The Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 33, 149-167.

Brown, S. (2018). Difficult dialogs about degenerate cases: A proof script study. The Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 52, 61-76.

Buchbinder, & S. Kuntze (Eds.) (2018). Mathematics teachers engaging with representations of practice: A dynamically evolving field. Springer.

Cheek, H. N., & Castle, K. (1981). The effects of back-to-basics on mathematics education. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 6(3), 263-277.

Crespo, S., Oslund, J. A., & Parks, A. N. (2011). Imagining mathematics teaching practice: Prospective teachers generate representations of a class discussion. ZDM Mathematics Education, 43(1), 119-131.

Dindyal, J., Schack, E.O., Choy, B.H. & Sherin, M. G. ( 2021). Exploring the terrains of mathematics teacher noticing. ZDM Mathematics Education, 53(1), 1–16.

Even, R., & Ball, D. L. (2009). The professional education and development of teachers of mathematics. Springer.

Hsieh, H.-F., & Shannon, S. E. (2005). Three approaches to qualitative content analysis. Qualitative Health Research, 15(9), 1277–1288.

Jacobs, V. R., Lamb, L. L., & Philipp, R. A. (2010). Professional noticing of children's mathematical thinking. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 41(2), 169-202.

Jacobs, V. R., Lamb, L. L., Philipp, R. A., & Schappelle, B. P. (2011). Deciding how to respond on the basis of children's understandings. In M. G. Sherin, V. R. Jacobs, & R. A. Philipp (Eds.), Mathematics teacher noticing (pp. 97-116). Routledge.

King, K. D. (2001). Conceptually-oriented mathematics teacher development: Improvisation as a metaphor. For the Learning of Mathematics, 9-15.

Koichu, B., & Zazkis, R. (2013). Decoding a proof of Fermat's Little Theorem via script writing.The Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 32(3), 364-376.

Mamolo, A. (2018). Eyes, ears, and expectations: Scripting as a multi-lens tool. In R. Zazkis & P. Herbst (Eds.), Scripting approaches in mathematics education: Mathematical dialogues in research and practice (pp. 229-248). Springer.

Mason, J. (2002). Researching your own practice: The discipline of noticing. Routledge Falmer.

Mason, J. (2011). Noticing: Roots and branches. In M. G. Sherin, V. R. Jacobs, & R. A. Philipp (Eds.), Mathematics teacher noticing: Seeing through teachers’ eyes (pp. 35–50). Routledge.

Mason, J. (2021). Learning about noticing, by, and through, noticing. ZDM Mathematics Education, 53(1), 231-243.

Oleson, A., & Hora, M. T. (2014). Teaching the way they were taught? Revisiting the sources of teaching knowledge and the role of prior experience in shaping faculty teaching practices. Higher education, 68(1), 29-45.

Scher, L., & O'Reilly, F. (2009). Professional development for K-12 math and science teachers: What do we really know? Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 2(3), 209-249.

Schoenfeld, A. H. (2011a). Noticing matters. A lot. Now what? In M. G. Sherin, V. R. Jacobs, & R. A. Philipp, Mathematics teacher noticing: Seeing through teachers' eyes (pp. 223-238). Routledge.

Schoenfeld, A. H. (2011b). Toward professional development for teachers grounded in a theory of decision making. ZDM Mathematics Education, 43(4), 457-469.

Thompson, A. G., Philipp, R. A., Thompson, P. W., & Boyd, B. A. (1994). Calculational and conceptual orientations in teaching mathematics. In A. Coxford (Ed.), 1994 Yearbook of the NCTM (pp. 79-92). NCTM.

Van Es, E. A., & Sherin, M. G. (2002). Learning to notice: Scaffolding new teachers' interpretations of classroom interactions. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 571-596.

Van Es, E. A., & Sherin, M. G. (2021). Expanding on prior conceptualizations of teacher noticing. ZDM Mathematics Education, 53(1), 17-27.

Weber, R. P. (1990). Basic content analysis (2nd ed.). SAGE Publications.

Zazkis, D. (2014). Proof-scripts as a lens for exploring students’ understanding of odd/even functions. The Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 35, 31-43.

Zazkis, R., & Zazkis, D. (2014). Script writing in the mathematics classroom: Imaginary conversations on the structure of numbers. Research in mathematics education, 16(1), 54-70.

Zazkis, R. (2018). Ceci n’est pas une Pratique:. In O. Buchbinder, & S. Kuntze (Eds.), Mathematics Teachers Engaging with Representations of Practice: A Dynamically Evolving Field (pp. 155-161). Springer.

Zazkis, R., Liljedahl, P., & Sinclair, N. (2009). Lesson Plays: Planning Teaching Versus Teaching Planning. For the Learning of Mathematics, 29(1), 39-46.

Zazkis, R., & Marmur, O. (2018). Scripting tasks as a springboard for extending prospective teachers' example spaces: A case of generating functions. Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 18(4), 291-312.

Zazkis, R., Sinclair, N., & Liljedahl, P. (2013). Lesson Play in Mathematics Education: A Tool for Research and Professional Development. Springer.