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Category Archives: Shanghai Blog

Beautiful calligraphy…

Category : Shanghai Blog

19th – 20th November 2019

We have had two great days at Zizhu Primary School including the oppoertunity to observe even more fantastic maths! Yesterday we observe Grade 1 (year 2) as they were taught number bonds within 20. The lesson was very interesting and the children were engaged throughout. It began with a short story about farmers counting chicken eggs. 6 eggs were placed into a basket and the children were asked to discuss how many more eggs were needed to make 10. There was lots of discussion and some children volunteered to answer and explain. It was wonderful to see that they used their 10 frames just as we do at St Augustine’s.
After the whole class discussion, the children were then given opportunities to find missing numbers to make 10.
The lesson progressed as the story moved forward using number bonds to 20. The children were asked to think about different strategies to answer a word problem.
For example: 9 eggs were laid yesterday and 5 eggs today. How many eggs in total in two days?
9 + 5 =
The pupils now moved onto using a 20 frame. The most common strategy was to partition 5 into 4 and 1. Add 1 to 9 and then 4 to 10. The pupils would always begin the calculation by thinking about how then can make 10.

Yesterday afternoon we were invited to Zizhu Normal University for a lecture and a tour.  The lecture was about algebra including how it is taught as part of the primary curriculum using different representations. The tour of the university was leas by students, it was lovely to see how enthusiastic they are about where they study. I was fascinated when we were invited into the natural disasters room where they use hi-tech machinery to measure potential weather issues.


This morning we had a wonderful welcome as we drove into school. The children were playing drums – they are so talented! I can’t wait to show you video.  After spending some time listening to the fantastic musicians we observed a calligraphy lesson. The children were learning about ancient symbols and then they had the opportunity to sketch some creative symbols of their own. Their technique when using the brushes was very elegant and they were very proud of their work.

This afternoon, Mrs Prince and I were invited to join a staff meeting about how they can make their already excellent maths lessons even better for the children. It was great to be able to share ideas including both how they teach in China and how we teach in the UK. They introduced us to some great mathematical games to develop our thinking skills.  We have have some great ideas to share with our teachers back home.

Miss you all!
Mrs Thompson

Terrific tiangles!

Category : Shanghai Blog

18th November 2019

This morning Mrs Prince and I headed out bright and early to our new school Zizhu Primary School , our partner teacher this is Ms Gu. Her schools is located approximately 60 minutes from the centre from Shanghai which was great as we could explore a more rural area. The school is very different to where we visited last week where our teacher Miss Gu has worked for 5 years. It is well established in the community hosting 1000 pupils across 3 campuses.

When we arrived at the school were lead to a large hall where a welcome ceremony was prepared for our arrival. It was carefully planned by the staff and pupils giving us an insight to the school. We were lucky enough to observe some wonderful dancing including swords, maths competitions and even dressed up in a traditional Chinese outfit.

The children were very fast when taking part in the maths competitions…one child rearranged a Rubix cube to its original form in just 45 seconds!


After the wonderful welcome ceremony we observed our first lesson of the day. It was a grade 3(year 4) lesson to identify properties of triangles. Initially, the pupils review previous learning by building 2D triangles and discussing their similarities and differences. The teacher the displayed 3 groups of triangles on the board and the pupils were asked to discuss and give reasons to why they were placed into different groups. Along with their talk partner, the pupils were able to compare the different length and angle sizes of the triangles.

Moving onto a whole class discussion the teacher then introduced new mathematical vocabulary and provided examples of triangles to develop an understanding of the meaning of the words.
The teacher then went on to provide a variety of examples and opportunities to apply their understanding of the three different types of triangle including grouping and building them. Throughout the lesson the children were able to constantly apply language and develop their understanding, it was very interesting to observe as they engaged with their talk partner and then as whole class discussing and mastering the concept.


After another delicious school lunch, Miss Gu took us to the Jade Buddha Temple in the centre of Shanghai. We read that it is one of Shanghai’s top attractions being one of the few active Buddhist monasteries, it was built between 1918 and 1928. The highlight is a Buddha crafted from pure jade, one of five shipped from Burma back to China almost 100 years ago. As well as the jade Buddha, there were many golden statues of Buddhist sculptures within beautifully decorated chambers. It was interesting to see that the temple is still used by monks as they work and pray.


After our visit to the temple we were taken out to dinner by some of the leaders from the school. We were offered a huge variety of dishes including local delicacies to try – many we wouldn’t normally eat in the UK.

You will all be very impressed with my chopstick skills!

Have a wonderful day
Mrs Thompson

A beautiful weekend in Shanghai

Category : Shanghai Blog

17th November 2019


Our weekend in Shanghai has been a combination of exploring and learning. The weather has been brilliant with many hours of sunshine.
On Saturday Mrs Prince and I decided to be the typical tourist and visit different areas of the City on a ‘Hop on hop off’ bus. It was great as it had an open top so we could enjoy the views of the city with a gentle breeze keep us cool in the heat.
Our first stop was the Yuyuan Gardens and Bazaar. They are classical Chinese gardens with a Ming-dynasty design and beautiful pond-like pools containing huge koi carp all waiting to be fed their special food. Although it was Saturday, and the gardens were extremely busy, it felt like an oasis even with the backdrop of the skyscrapers. The buildings, including the historic tea rooms, are beautifully designed with swooping clay rooves and beautifully shaped carvings.
Surrounding the gardens is a never-ending bazaar with bustling souvenir and countless food stops offering many delights including the famous dumplings. It was very entertaining watching the tourists haggle. I would love to see Mrs McCollom and the staff at St Augustine’s haggle for some bargains!

Our next stop was Xintandi in the French Concession. It was like stepping into a completely different world compared to the gardens as the buildings were modern and very up-market. There were many big brand famous stores such as Tiffany and Gucci – a little over-priced for my budget!

Our final stop was a photo opportunity beneath the famous Oriental Pearl Tower. The 468m tripod with huge metalic spheres known as the space modules is one of my favourite buildings and is a symbol of the city that excites the imagination and attracts thousands of visitors year-round.

This morning, all of the teachers from the UK were invited to observe two Chinese teachers teacher fraction lessons. They were very brave as there were over 100 of us learning from them as they demonstrated strategies of how to place fractions on a number line. It was very interesting and after the lesson we had the opportunity to discuss the lessons including time to ask questions and considering how we could teach using similar strategies in the UK.

After our Sunday morning lesson, some of the Chinese teachers took us out of the city to Zhujiajiao, a Water Town known as Shanghai’s Venice with unique old bridges across bubbling streams, small rivers shaded by willow trees, and houses with small courtyards. It was built almost 1,700 years ago and once again I was taken aback by its beauty and tranquillity as we enjoyed a leisurely stroll meandering in and out of Ming-dynasty style buildings. There are many bridges that allow you to cross the small canals including the largest and most famous of these bridges Fangsheng Bridge, or the ‘setting the fish free bridge’, where locals come to release fish into the water for good luck. When we stood on the bridge we could see a small historic temple, they are dotted all over the city and are a great reminder of the rich cultural and religious heritage of China. Wow!

After a great weekend, we are off for an early night as we have a 2 hour journey to our new school in the morning located in the countryside – we’ve been advised to wrap up due to the weather forecast being very cool where the school is located.
Hope you are all having a great weekend in the UK.
I wish we could arrange a huge school trip for you all to visit China and meet children your age!

Measures and more…

Category : Shanghai Blog

14th November 2019

Another excellent day at Shanghai Yangjing-Juyuan Experimetnal School observing more fantastic maths lessons. Before we began our focus lessons, we had the opportunity to watch the introduction of a PE lesson. It is a beautiful day so the lesson took place outside. As there are so many pupils the teachers wore a small microphone – it was fascinating.

The objective of the maths lesson this morning with Miss Ivy was to convert between metres and centimetres. The grade 3 (year 4) pupils were each given a metre stick and  were introduced to the lesson and the understanding of the stick by discussing a real life scenario. They were asked to consider how they would measure the height of a pupil who was 1 metre 30 cm. This was a greater measurement than that of the metre stick. The children discussed and explored a variety of strategies such as moving the stick,  estimating how much longer 30cm would be and even rotating the stick to extend the measurement. They eventually generalised that without a longer stick the measurement may not always be accurate.
Miss Ivy moved forward with further small steps  of converting  different measurements where the pupils were given the opportunity to deepen their understanding by discussing and proving answers. They were always polite to one another and listened intently to their group partners. Using new knowledge of converting they were able to find the appropriate measurements to buy different items of clothing for children with different heights. The discussions were fantastic and the pupils were able to convert from cm to m and vice versa.

“Read More”

All about circles!

Category : Shanghai Blog

Wednesday 13th November 2019

What another fantastic day in Shanghai!

Today was our second day Shanghai Yangjing-Juyuan Experimetnal School observing the wonderful teachers and pupils as they teach and learn. The children around the school are always very welcoming and their English is exceptional. They told me they have a lesson to learn how to speak English every day and they think that our visit to their school is an excellent opportunity to speak to us.

We observed and took part in the discussions of two lessons today. One of the lessons was  how to use a compass to draw a circle and what the term ‘radius’ is and means.

Miss Li began by asking the children what a circle was. They used different ‘life language’ such as smooth and round. She then provided compasses and using small steps explained how to use it before giving the pupils the opportunity to draw circles independently.

After drawing the circles using compasses, the pupils were asked to consider how they would draw a circle on the playground. They were given time to discuss their ideas with their talk partners before sharing their thoughts with the whole class. To address any misconceptions of drawing a circle without the use of a compass the teacher explained that they could use rope. She then played short video of a teacher actually drawing a circle using rope in the playground in a real life scenario. She then demonstrated on the chalkboard board using string. Although the circle on the chalkboard looked very accurate, the Miss Li was not happy with it as it had a very slight bump in it so she drew it again and asked the pupils to discuss what was wrong with it. By modelling and identifying inaccuracies, she was able to fine-tune the importance of mastering the technique. It was very interesting and reiterates how important it is to teach in a way that pupils take small steps but are able to deepen their understanding securing their learning.

Once the children mastered using a compass to draw an accurate circle, the teacher then introduced the concept of the radius showing them how to measure it and the idea that there can be an infinite number of radii within a circle. It was fascinating as she linked their mathematical understanding of the concept to science and engineering as she explained why wheels of vehicles are circular and how the radius is important to ensure a smooth ride!
After the lesson we were invited by Miss Li to take a walk along the  river which runs through the centre of the city. Miss Li explained that it is important that teachers and children take some time during the day away from the classroom. It was very picturesque as it was lined with many different types of buildings old and new – they are very lucky to have such local beauty to take a stroll during lunch!

This evening we ventured out of the hotel to a local market, it was very interesting with some unusual delciacies including chicken feet! Would you try this at home girls and boys? The market was busy and lined with lots of souviners from minituare pandas to beautiful tea sets. The people in Shanghai are very friendly and really enjoy telling us about their vibrant city.

I can’t wait to tell you more tomorrow.
Have a wonderful day.
Mrs Thompson

My first day at school….

Category : Shanghai Blog

Tuesday 12th November 2019

Today we went to our first school Shanghai Yangjing-Juyuan Experimental School, we are at this school for the remainder of the week. It is enormous with over 200 pupils and is perfectly placed in the centre of the city with views of incredible architecture all around.
When we arrived we found the pupils waiting to greet us with huge smiles. They had prepared a welcome ceremony which is common when international teachers visit. It was really special, they welcomed us by playing music and waving British and Chinese flags. A group of adults and children were lined up in in front of a large LED board displaying our names. We felt like celebrities – our names were in lights!

The grade 5 children (equivalent to our year 6) gave us a tour of the campus, they were very proud to be part of Shanghai Yangjing-Juyuan Experimental School as they spoke so fondly of what it was like being a pupil there.
After the tour we were introduced the head teacher and exchanged gifts, she absolutely loved her Harry Potter mug! The meeting with the head teacher gave us the opportunity to ask questions about the school and the types of lessons that are taught. She explained that schools in Shanghai have different specialist subject areas as well as the regular curriculum and the speciality focus of this school is Design and Technology. A pupil presented a project that he designed and created based on the idea of saving energy within large cities. He used different materials and it even lit up!


After lunch we observed a our first maths lesson of the visit. The key learning point of the lesson was the relationship between the multiplication of 3, 6 and 9.
The lesson consolidated the mastery technique that we have been researching in the UK and was very carefully crafted by the teacher using small steps to allow the pupils to understand the concept.
The teacher began by reviewing the previous lesson with a short activity. The concept of relationship of the relationship multiplication was then introduced using a pictorial representation. The children were asked to count the coloured squares on the rectangle and by doing so, they were able to begin to find patterns between the 3, 6, and 9 times tables.

They explained their findings to the teacher and the concept was then repeated using a different representation – a number line. The small steps were pivotal to the learning and language and key vocabulary was used fluidly throughout the lesson to consolidate understanding and ensure the involvement of all pupils – it was fascinating.

After the lesson, the teacher and other teachers from the school who were also observing took part in a discussion of the learning that took place and how the pupils were given many opportunities to think, discuss and explain. We found it extremely valuable to be part of the discussion as not only were we learning from the Chinese teachers, but they were also learning from us.
After a long day we returned to the hotel where we met with all of the other English teachers to present the findings of the day. It was then a quick evening meal and now time reflect and share with you my day before sleep!
Miss you all!
Mrs Thompson

I have arrived!

Category : Shanghai Blog

11th November 2019

After a ten-hour flight travelling almost 6000 miles, myself and lots of other teachers from the UK arrived safely in Shanghai on Sunday. The weather is beautiful, they call the current season ‘the golden season’, the sun is bright and the colourful leaves are falling from the trees. After checking in to the hotel I found I was going up to the 33rd floor, the views are fantastic!

Today the real experience began as we visited Shanghai Normal University for the launch day of the England-Shanghai Mathematics Teacher Exchange Project.

Representatives from the English and Chinese departments of education warmly welcomed all of the teachers. They each gave a short speech about the journey of the project since 2014 when Mrs McCollom first visited.
After the welcome ceremony and a huge group picture with over 100 teachers we were given an in-depth lecture by Professor Gu Lingyuan. He shared the finer points of his research of the development of teaching for mastery and how teachers in China teach lessons in a logical order arranging key teaching sequences to highlight the key points of the learning steps within concepts.
One example Professor Gu highlighted was subtracting with regrouping. He shared the theory of pupils having multiple steps of thinking. The first stage is using concrete apparatus such as bundles of straws.
If the calculation is 26 -7 the pupils would be provided with the 26 straws and they remove 7. They would then count the total of straws remaining in the bundle. This could also be taught by using pictorial representation such as ten frames.

The next stage is the algorithm using the abstract form.
– 7
The final stage would be the mastery stage where the pupils would truly understand the reasoning behind regrouping and master the concept e.g.
26 -7 = (20 – 1) + (6-6) = 19

This example by Professor Lu was a good reflection of the mastery approach we have at St Augustine’s and it was refreshing to know that our strategies are similar and have been successful since it began in 2014 as a result of Mrs McCollom’s visit to the country.

After a delicious lunch provided by the university, my UK partner teacher (Mrs Prince) and I met our Shanghai partner teachers Ms Yiwen Li and Ms Heng Gu. We will be visiting their schools in Shagnhai and observing lessons over the next two weeks. It came as no surprise that they are very passionate Mathematics teachers, keen to share their practices and grow as professionals. We shared ideas about Math pedagogy, discovered the similarities and differences of our two education systems and began thinking ahead to their visit to England in March.

After a very busy day at the Normal University, my partner teacher Mrs Prince and I took the opportunity to visit some of Shanghai’s fantastic attractions. We walked along one of China’s most famous shopping streets Nanjing Road, it had a huge variety of shops and neon signs which illuminated the night. We then stopped at the Bund which is part of Shanghai’s colonial past where rice trading would take place. It now has the most spectacular views of modern futuristic buildings all displaying dazzling bright lights. Our final stop was the world famous Shanghai Tower, it is the tallest building in China and second tallest building in the world standing at 632 meters. We entered the fastest elevator in the world travelling at 18 meters per second – our ears were popping all the way to the top. The sun sets very early in Shanghai and as it was around 8pm we were greeted with breath-taking views from the 360 degree observatory – it was spectacular!

It has been a long but fantastic first day. I will try my very best to upload some pictures tomorrow (IT issues!), hope you are having a great day at school.
Mrs Thompson

Shanghai Blog

Category : Shanghai Blog

Welcome to the Shanghai blog.