What We Learned from Shanghai: Relentless CPD
In the final part of our series of brief blogs, we learn the conclusions from Teaching for Mastery Specialists Ester Mor Gomez and Sam Shutkever’s recent visit to Shanghai:
We witnessed some of the best maths lessons we had ever seen in Shanghai. Despite this the teachers themselves were always seeking out opportunities to improve and develop their own understanding.
We were involved in several teacher research groups (TRGs). During these, teachers were asked to discuss topics such as: how best to teach the 5 times table, reviewing literature they had read, and how best to use ICT within maths lessons. We reflected on how different this was from the UK, and how staff meetings or coaching sessions could be vitally important to improving the teaching of mathematics in our schools.
We learned so much from our time in Shanghai. Our views of whole-class teaching were strengthened, as well as the importance of small steps in lesson design. We saw first-hand, the impact of mastery on the outcomes for children.
Our friends from Shanghai are currently delivering lessons to classrooms around the UK, and we know that teachers here will get as much from the experience as we did from our visit to China.
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What We Learned from Shanghai: Frequency of Reasoning & Mathematical Language
Following on from Small Steps and Real Life Context, the third instalment of our Teaching for Mastery Specialists’ Shanghai blog covers Frequency of Reasoning and Mathematical Language:
Although a multitude of different teachers and lessons were observed, one thing that was universal across all the classrooms was how much children were asked to reason. It seemed that children were talking and discussing constantly, but quite often, one child would be asked to reason around the topic being taught. The classes were frequently asked their opinions on the reasoning of their peers.
Flexibility and alternate methods were demanded. The children were asked to use methods from others in the class, as the image illustrated in the above. They came up with 6 or 7 different ways to find the area of the compound shape shown in green.
Alongside opportunities for reasoning, the children were continuously required to use correct mathematical language. Key language was displayed on blackboards at the front of the room, and they were asked to repeat it back individually and as groups to reinforce their use of the language. Sentence stems were a key part of lessons, which again gave children confidence in reasoning.
Check back tomorrow for the concluding part of our blog summarising the experience Sam Shutkever and Ester Mor Gomez gained from observing maths lessons in Shanghai.
What We Learned from Shanghai: Real Life Context
Day 2 sharing our experience of maths teaching in Shanghai looks at introducing concepts through real life context:
Lessons in Shanghai all began with a real life context of the maths concept the class were about to learn. Whilst this will certainly not surprise many teachers, “Why are we learning this?” gave a hook, of which the lesson was built around understanding. The teachers used a real life context to draw out the meaning of the mathematical concept.
A lot of the children were able to bring their own experiences into the lesson, developing the realisation that maths is important to their understanding of the world.
The diagram above was a floorplan in a lesson on area. The children were asked to see which rooms were easy to calculate using arrays, and which others were more difficult. Note the flexibility of calculation of the room in green.
Our series of Shanghai snapshots continues tomorrow with Frequency of Reasoning and Mathematical Language.