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Mrs Greenwood's Shanghai Maths Exchange (Nov 2019)

In November, Mrs Greenwood took an amazing journey to Shanghai, to learn more about Maths teaching and to share great teaching ideas with colleagues. Here, she recounts her experiences of the first leg of the Shanghai Maths Exchange in her diary.


Monday Week 1– The Shanghai Normal University: Opening Ceremony  Today I travelled to the university to receive a very warm welcome from the Chinese Government. Officials from both countries took to the stage sharing the successes so far from the Shanghai – England Mathematics project that began in 2014. I was a little tired after my eleven-hour flight and adjusting to a new time zone.  The weather was very hot today, all the English teachers were very happy; we are used to cold, rainy weather in the UK in November. We were served a traditional Chinese meal and used chopsticks to eat the delicious dishes. During the afternoon, I met the two Chinese teachers who will be visiting North Lakes School in March 2020: Vicky and Joona.  They are both lovely people and are very much looking forward to travelling to England and teaching mathematics at North Lakes School.  Every night when we arrive back at the hotel, we have to go to ‘After School Club. ’This is a teacher session when we share what we learn from the maths lessons we see throughout the day.


Tuesday Week 1 – Arrival at the FuDan Experimental School What a wonderful day I had visiting my first Chinese school! We were warmly welcomed by the students and teachers with an assembly of cheerleading, musical instruments and traditional dance performances. We exchanged gifts and the Headteacher really liked her gift of Penrith fudge! We toured the school and saw two PE lessons and three maths lessons. The children are in year groups: Grade 2 is Year 3 (7-8 year old pupils). Pupils do not begin school until they are six in China. We have translators with us all the time so we can ask questions and learn from this experience. The children are very good, polite and most respectful. They all enjoyed looking at our school website and learning about an English school.


Wednesday Week 1 – FuDan Experimental School Another busy day watching many maths lessons and learning the Shanghai system. We met the music teacher today who was very keen to know about singing and our school choir. The children in Grade 2 have recently recorded a song about recycling - have a listen on our school website!  I also attended an Art lesson today and created a traditional Chinese opera mask. Have a look at the pictures and see me trying my very best!  Tomorrow is a big day for me, as I have to teach a maths lesson in front of 120 people and TV cameras! Yes, I am nervous!


Thursday Week 1 – Showcase Day at FuDan Yes, I survived! The whole experience of teaching in a foreign language in front of 120 teachers with TV cameras was exciting and scary at the same time. I can honestly say, it was the most nerve–wracking experience of my whole career!                                                          


The Chinese teachers were very keen to learn new styles and approaches from England and how we teach a maths lesson! Our lesson was all about multiplying 3 x 4. We used real life apples to model this process; the children and staff really liked this! We also discussed some marvelous mistakes’ as we calculated and shared the notion, that we can all learn from our mistakes.


The Weekend We have a little free time to explore the city on an open top bus. It was amazing to experience some Buddhist temples, museums and a trip to the circus. We also ventured out into old Shanghai and experienced a traditional Chinese hot pot meal. The sea creatures were all alive in the restaurant and I had to select which lobster I wanted to eat! I was quite good with the chopsticks and really enjoyed the Dim Sum. I decided to pass on the chicken feet!


Monday Week 2: Vanke Primary School  Another warm welcome today at the second school. This was in the business district in Shanghai and was next to the Shanghai tower which is the second highest tower in the world! The children in this school had very good English and so my job was a little easier this week. We took part in two maths lessons today with the Grade 4 children.  An interesting feature in the school today was the mobile library. This was a vending type machine on each floor of the school. You placed your library card in to the machine and it opened up for you to select a book! How cool was that!


Wednesday Week 2: Vanke Primary School  Today was the start of the school’s maths contest. It was a little like a Sumdog challenge where all pupils were competing and showing off the speed of their number fluency – wow I was impressed! After a morning studying maths, we were invited to another school to take part in a maths meeting, discussing similarities and differences between lessons in England and China.


Final Day  It was sad to say farewell today, as we have really got to know staff and enjoyed our time in the different schools. It really has been an excellent experience for me and I hope to bring back ideas and new strategies to lessons designs to enable us to progress even further with our own maths thinking. I will certainly be sharing ideas with colleagues at NLS and in the schools I am working with this year in Cumbria. It’s a long flight home and I will miss out on a night’s sleep! I have really enjoyed my experience but now it is icne to be travelling back to England to see my family and all at North Lakes School.


North Lakes School will welcome Joona and Vicky for 2 weeks during March next year. They are very much looking forward to working with classes of pupils and sharing their maths teaching with us and teachers all over the North West of England. Watch this space for further details, March is a very busy and exciting month for all at NLS!