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Discover Huili | Theme-based learning in action

15 Apr 2019

By integrating Chinese and British educational practices and philosophies while absorbing the essence of the both, Huili School Shanghai has produced an informative and vibrant bilingual curriculum framework which remains true to our own values and characteristics. Our primary school curriculum is delivered through different themes to help build connections between all the subjects and the real-life applications of learning. To explore this approach through an example, one theme running through the lessons of our grade 4 pupils is ‘land, sky and sea’. In theme-based lessons, pupils, acting as chief journalists of different press organisations, reported on the living environment of various marine organisms and advocated that people should strive to protect animals, particularly endangered species. Reinforcing the theme in geography lessons, pupils then learned about habitats and how human activities affect them, before developing effective strategies necessary to save endangered animals. In natural science lessons, they discussed how cities have become the dominant habitat for humans, as well as other relevant knowledge regarding food chains and food webs in cities, how to dispose, recycle and reuse waste, etc. In art lessons, pupils learned to express their understanding of nature through different artistic means and methods. They chose materials and techniques for their respective pieces, drawing land and seascapes of diverse styles. In Chinese lessons, pupils not only built up vocabulary and phrases to improve their Chinese attainment, but also strengthened their understanding of the value and importance of peaceful coexistence with animals and nature as a whole. Our theme-based curriculum is co-taught by Chinese and Western teachers. It covers extensive topics of the humanities and natural sciences. Learning through various themes enables our pupils to learn facts about various subjects, grasp different learning methods and skills and discover their links with real world. Our teachers focus on nurturing pupils’ abilities in critical thinking, reasoning and questioning, all of which will ensure pupils are prepared for transitioning to Junior High and beyond.

We are committed to enhancing pupils’ critical and creative thinking skills while guiding them to solve real world problems. For example, when pupils learned the concept of volume in their mathematics lesson, they went to the science laboratory to work as groups to verify that 1 litre = 1000 millilitre. Teachers train pupils to grasp the basic proper procedures of doing experiments in advance. Only when pupils completed the initial test smoothly could they obtain the necessary experimental apparatus. During the experimental process, pupils were asked to examine how many times it would take to fill a 1L measuring cup with a 100ml or 250ml measuring cylinder. They were instructed to explore the question by themselves and reflect on their results before finishing the experimental reports. We regard every pupil as a unique individual and respect their need for differentiation accordingly. By embedding the Huili Values and Identities from the outset of their school career, our curriculum helps the children in our care form healthy, positive and moral characteristics.

Our teachers, both Chinese and international, work closely together to ensure that our pupils achieve balanced development in both languages, and more importantly, to master the delivery of multi-subject bilingual learning. Guided by the Huili Values of Courage, Integrity, Respect, Kindness and Responsibility, founding pupils in grade 4 have actively participated in various activities held in our school or in the wider community, and made great progress in terms of their academic and personal attainments. We look forward to seeing pupils rise to any and all challenges they encounter later on in their learning journey.