In the Nursery this week…

In the Nursery this week the Morning class have been exploring the topic ‘Down on the Farm’ with the opportunity to learn ‘farm’ themed songs with Makaton signs, feed small-world farm animals during malleable activities and explore the Literacy Focus ‘The Little Red Hen’ which included making and eating bread just like the lead character in the story and creating ‘Story Maps’.

The Afternoon class had been observed playing ‘shops’ and so were encouraged the children to write ‘shopping lists’ and to participate in a ‘What’s in the basket?’ communication activity. They also participated in a vegetable tasting game to develop their descriptive language, explored large scale painting activities and developed their scissor skills.

Last day in Shanghai

  The school building

  A tasty school dinner

              Children in class and the school library

  With some of the maths teachers at Shanghai East Experimental School  Most of the maths department

  With the vice principal, head of maths and Lynn, our partner teacher by the emblem of the school

  A review lesson looking at the most efficient methods for calculating.

As I gear up for my long flight home, I feel so privileged to have experienced school life in Shanghai – the staff have all been so welcoming and we have relished the opportunity to observe so many lessons and participate in the teacher research groups where they analyse the effectiveness of each session.  The teachers are highly committed to crafting lessons which move the children on quickly in small, coherent steps and they build on children’s prior learning very well.

We have observed many lessons and taken from all of them how skilled each child is in their retention of and application of number facts.  This was especially evident in a lesson where Year 3 children were challenged to make 24 from random selections of four playing cards.  The speed, confidence and enthusiasm with which they explained their methods was amazing. And the teacher was highly skilled in delivering the lesson.

Yesterday we taught a lesson to a Grade 4 class (Year 5) and it was such an experience! The children did their best to understand our English & we did our best to simplify our language! The children were a joy to teach and the discussion after the lesson was really valuable with both Chinese and English teachers sharing their ideas.  The staff of the school were especially interested in our choice of starting the lesson with the children estimating and making errors before focussing them into the correct answer. They were also interested in the addition of mini-challenges to extend the children who moved swiftly through tasks.  We were fascinated by the way they looked closely at each choice of question and task with a view to choosing the very best to maximise learning.  I am certain that teachers from both sides of the exchange will be making changes to their lesson designs and learning from one another.

As well as working, we have been fortunate to visit an ancient town with some of the teachers and to go for a delicious meal in a restaurant influenced by the cuisine of Hong Kong.  I have also seen my friend who has recently moved here to teach in an international school so have had an insider’s guide to this vibrant city!

Whilst I will be sad to board the plane home tomorrow morning, I am excited to share my experiences with my class and friends at Tubbenden.

See you all on Monday!

Mathematics Mastery China-England Exchange Update

Week 1 in Shanghai



It has been so busy here that I have only just found the time to update the blog!

We have now finished our week in our first school. We observed more Maths lessons and took part in more teacher research groups. On Wednesday, Debbie Morgan and Charlie Strip visited our school and we all watched a lesson in a teaching observation theatre – a large room with rows of seats for observers & a stage area where the lesson takes place. The lesson demonstrated how the children in Shanghai schools are moved from the horizontal to vertical procedure for multiplication. After the lesson, every teacher in the Maths department met with us to further analyse the lesson.

As respected visitors, we were treated to a Chinese tea ceremony in the afternoon & given a lesson on calligraphy.  We also visited music lessons around the school – whole classes of 50 children learning the same instrument together. It was quite something to see!

On Thursday we watched our Chinese partner teacher deliver an excellent lesson on using the laws of multiplication to ensure calculations are efficient and accurate. The Grade 5 class (Year 6 age in England) whizzed through showing incredible skills in applying their secure number facts fluently. They enjoyed the lesson and so did we!

Friday was a treat – after a morning in school, our Chinese teacher kindly took us to a water village with her husband and son. It was beautiful & a chance to get to know Miss Dai more before her visit to Tubbenden in January.

I was fortunate to spend Friday evening catching up with a friend who has moved here to teach in an international school for 2 years, and on Saturday we visited the extensive markets in Shanghai – my bartering skills are now finely tuned!

Today we had a workshop until the afternoon. I will admit it was difficult to remain focused on a Sunday morning! However, the discussions with other teachers & presentations from Chinese teachers were invaluable in deepening my own thinking about Maths teaching even further. This afternoon was spent visiting the Shanghai tower & having afternoon tea with Lynn, our second Chinese partner teacher. We will be visiting her school all of next week & teaching our lesson (with at least 10 Chinese teachers observing!) to grade 4 there on Wednesday.

All in all, it as been an incredibly interesting first week and a brilliant opportunity to build international links with Chinese teachers and schools in order to learn from each other.


China-England Mathematics Mastery Exchange

The first leg of the China-England Mathematics teacher exchange organised by the DFE & NCETM (National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics) has begun! Since gaining a place on the exchange, I have been really excited about the opportunity to see the teaching of Maths in Shanghai, have been looking forward to meeting the Chinese teachers and, of course, to visiting this bustling city.

Last year, I completed training to become a Primary Maths Mastery Specialist and was able to observe Chinese teachers visiting England. Now, I am delighted to have the opportunity to learn more about their approach & to get to know the teachers before they visit Tubbenden for 2 weeks in January where they will be working in our school to further develop Mathematics teaching. As I will be here for 2 weeks, I will try to share some of my experiences with the Tubbenden community on the school blog.

Day one in Shanghai

After landing on Sunday, feeling tired from an overnight flight, I had a chance to explore the city which is beautiful, busy and jam-packed with looming skyscrapers. We had a welcome meeting with Debbie Morgan (Director for Primary Mathematics for the NCETM), Charlie Strip (Director of the NCETM), Nabil Ali (Head of Curriculum implementation for the DFE) and Richard Hoy (Senior Policy Advisor for the DFE) where we learnt about the coming weeks and shortly after we all retired to bed ready for the next day.

Day two

We enjoyed a tasty breakfast before making our way to Shanghai Normal University. The morning began with welcomes from various Chinese dignitaries from the Chinese Ministry for Education. We then had a lecture about Variation Theory and it’s applications from the highly respected Professor Gu. He discussed how the choices teachers make when posing problems to children should allow them to understand a concept deeply, to build on prior knowledge & know why procedures are effective in Mathematics.

After a traditional lunch where I was a little too keen and poured what I thought was a soup onto my rice, only to realise too late it was for pudding, thus not complementing the pork belly very well (!), we met our partner teachers. Miss Dai has been a Mathematics teacher for 14 years & Lynn Fu is a newer teacher who obviously has a strong passion for Maths teaching & an excellent subject knowledge. They are both very excited to have the chance to teach at Tubbenden in January and really keen to open their classrooms to me & my partner teacher from England.  We discussed teaching styles, what our schools are like and learnt about what we will be doing over the next 2 weeks in school.

Tomorrow we visit Miss Dai’s school. We will be travelling there using the Shanghai metro and need to leave at 7am – so I am off to bed for an early night, feeling excited about my day in a Chinese school!