Six Things that Maths Teachers in Shanghai Do

Teaching for Mastery

I was privileged today to observe a maths teacher from Shanghai teach a maths lesson to a year 7 class in Cheltenham. This was organised by the GLOW Maths Hub for teachers from Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Worcestershire. After the lesson we talked about some of the differences and similarities between maths teaching in Shanghai and the UK.

  1. The answer is only the beginning. In Shanghai, maths teachers put more emphasis on how a student arrived at the answer, rather than the answer itself. Students are encouraged to discuss and explain their reasoning and their methods, thus deepening their understanding and clarifying their ideas.
  2. Variation in examples and representations are used – pictures, numbers, diagrams, and symbols.
  3. Mistakes are encouraged. “Mistakes are good for us,” says the teacher, “because we can notice something and avoid doing it again.”
  4. Homework is set every day to practise and consolidate learning. Because this is done every day at home, it means that all the time in the lesson is used to introduce, discuss and explore the ideas rather than for mechanical repetition.
  5. Teachers introduce “wrinkles and confusion” into their lessons – deliberate mistakes which address common misconceptions and explore the students’ understanding.
  6. Key ideas and rules are repeated and recited by the whole class. “Keep the denominators the same and add the numerators,” they chant.

For more information about the work of maths hubs click here.

 

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