Coronavirus – please click here for key information.

Kate & Laurie Reflect On Their First Week In Shanghai

A reflection from Primary Mastery Specialists – Kate and Laurie on their Exchange trip to Shanghai 

Our first week has come to an emotional end, we have loved being in our Shanghai school this week and learning from one of our partner teachers.


The points that have stood out the most for us are:

  1. Small (minute really) steps
  2. Making relationships
  3. Representations – explicit use of CPA and precise language


Small, Minute Steps:

We both felt like we currently teach using a small step approach but since observing lessons this in Shanghai, these steps are even smaller and lesson design is integral to how they teach. This week we have observed lessons where children were learning about division with remainders. The progression of small steps within a lesson not only means children are able to generalise and solve challenging questions by the end of the lesson, the small steps also enable the children to apply this learning to the next lesson where they are challenged even further.


Making Relationships:

In every lesson we have observed this week, teachers have led children to discover relationships by making them think. For example, what is the relationship between the divisor and the quotient? Rather than asking which is greater; the quotient or the divisor? Another example, in a lesson on equations, children explored problems where the structure was different but the relationship in each problem was the same. Therefore, they could use the same equation for different contexts. Diagrams were also used to enable children to see relationships between different operations, making the inverse explicitly obvious.


Representations – Explicit Use Of CPA And Precise Language:

The use of a concrete, pictorial, abstract (CPA) approach is extremely well thought out. Concrete is used to set the context of the lesson which is something children are familiar with and shows the maths in a real life situation. This means all children can access the learning immediately and can make links between prior learning/knowledge and new learning. Children are cleverly led towards pictorial representations, after they have ‘felt’ or ‘touched’ the maths so they can make the link to the pictorial from the concrete. At this stage, multiple methods or calculations are often explored and then recorded on the board, providing children with a clear link to the abstract. This precise and seamless approach leads children to clarity. The teacher spends time asking what the abstract numbers represent to ensure all children understand the concept. Key learning points or sentences will then be displayed as children discuss and discover the maths. The sentences provide children with a generalisation they have discovered through being carefully led by the teacher.

A collection of images from Kate and Laurie’s first week in Shanghai. 

Amazing to see how maths is taught to primary age pupils in Shanghai, and experience such a wonderful city in our down time’