Planning and Teaching Lessons in a Japan-U.S. Cross-Cultural Teacher Education Exchange:
The Lesson Component of the Friendship Project

Kensuke Chikamori, Naruto University of Education;
Fred Hamel, University of Puget Sound;
Carol Merz, University of Puget Sound (emeritus);
Yumiko Ono, Naruto University of Education,;
Jane Williams, Middle Tennessee State University

The Friendship Project (FP) is a joint project of one Japanese university and two American universities. Project activities encompass annual exchanges of teacher education students and faculty members in weeklong visits to both countries. While in the partner country, the teacher education students teach lessons in a local school, participate in home stays with local families, and experience various aspects of the national and local culture. These activities are collaborative in nature and promote understanding of education-related issues not only among the exchange students but also among the participating professors. The FP has been an on-going project since 2004.

Across the years of the project, the collaborating researchers have collected data from students relating to their reactions to the immersion experiences in the other culture and have reported results of these data at previous JUSTEC seminars. At the 21st JUSTEC, the researchers presented plans for an additional research focus: the lessons the FP teacher education students teach at the local schools in the host country. The FP researchers presented a preliminary plan for the new research focus and invited responses and advice from the JUSTEC participants.

The preliminary research plan, to be summarized in the presentation, is as follows:

1.@The rationale for conducting lessons in local host country schools

2.@A brief description of lessons that have been taught over the years, including

3.@FP faculty membersf learnings as a result of the planning and implementation of the lessons

4. @A discussion of the processes to be considered that will capture the above learnings/perceptions

This new focus is in the planning stage. Discussion of the above issues during the presentation served as an gincubatorh of various methodology-related ideas from the expertise of the JUSTEC participants.

Implications of Findings for the Educational Community in Japan and the U.S.:

The ultimate goals of this phase of the FP research are:

to learn from our students about what was best in the FP activities to enhance the gfirst contacth practicum experiences teacher education students receive in their own communities by using FP model/ideas/methodology/what worked best in creating more culturally responsive novices,

to better design and plan curriculum in schools of education that promote culturally responsive teaching in beginning teachers, and

to learn about essential differences and similarities in how U.S. and Japanese teachers plan for instruction in the host countries in order to expand possibilities in our ways of conceiving lessons.