Teaching map skills through a learning study approach: Navigating from “what to teach” to “how to teach”

Ka Wai LEUNG, Meng Choo LAI

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Students with special needs always have the learning problems to transfer their knowledge acquired from books to their daily life. Under the teaching context of map reading, students have a habit of memorizing all the direction signs and they may be able to “reproduce” them correctly on a map-reading task sheet. However, they would encounter problems when they find that the North coordinate is not always pointing to the top or the same direction.
The purpose of this study is to indicate that the growth in the knowledge of map-reading skills (what to teach) leads to growth of instructional competence of teachers through a learning study of four special schools. Employing the patterns of variation, teachers began to challenge students to go beyond memorizing or executing procedures to deepen students’ conceptual understanding of map reading. Teachers helped students discern possible directions of the coordinate frame through providing maps with the North coordinate pointing to different directions and outdoor learning activities. The findings show that highlighting the critical features of the selected teaching topic for student discernment is vital for the growth of students’ map-reading skills.
This study reveals that the connections between the salient features of Learning Study and improvement in learning and teaching. Through the professional development project, teachers of four special schools, academic staffs from the Education University of HK, and school inspectors from the Education Bureau collaborated as a learning community evaluating and incorporating each other’s ideas for over three months on the same research topic (reading maps). Multiple opportunities and contexts within which to share the understanding of the teaching topic led to significant growth in understanding of map interpretation skills which, in turn, led to teachers’ growth of instructional competence. Copyright © 2018 WALS.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


Leung, K.-W., & Lai, M. C. (2018, November). Teaching map skills through a learning study approach: Navigating from “what to teach” to “how to teach”. Paper presented at the World Association of Lesson Studies (WALS) International Conference 2018: Lesson Study and Teacher Education: International Dialogue, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China.


  • Map reading
  • Variation theory
  • Learning study
  • Mathematics
  • Special schools


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