Think Creative Spring 2022

Right : Phonics helps students connect letters to sounds, so that they can start to recognize words and their building blocks.

Colorful reading materials help engage young learners.

their understanding of each word and their ability to remember and use language in their daily lives.” While the former approach focused on teach ing grammar rules to young children, the re vised curriculum emphasizes reading compre hension and student engagement. It also newly places equal emphasis on reading, writing, listening and speaking, and most importantly comprehension. “Most students had good word recognition and decoding skills but scored very low in compre hension. Young learners are unable to remem ber words and use them in their daily vocabulary if they cannot understand them,” saysWafi. The new approach has been embraced by the Ministry. “The difference between the [revised] cur riculum and the previous one is radical,” says the Ministry’s Director of Curricula, Fouad Chafiqi, Ph.D. “When we started experimenting [with this new early grade reading approach], it became immediately clear that the students were able to make more progress than we had previously hoped.” The results were so successful that the Minis try asked the program to expand the curricu lum to grades five and six, a rare request with education development programming. In addition to the revised curriculum getting down to the micro level of how and when to teach letters, words and sentences, it also zooms out to streamline the curriculum over all. Previously, the curriculumwas packed with material that teachers would feel obligated to get through. The revised approach lightened the amount of subject material for the year and reprioritized participatory classroom time. It also focuses on introducing skills at age-

and level-appropriate times, fostering a more natural progression through literacy learning within and between grades, and interactive activities such as storytelling, movement and roleplaying. “The old curriculum, focused largely on quan tity, whereas the revised curriculum is flexible and focuses on quality. It takes care of all stages of the learner’s growth,” says Hind Ouaghad, a primary school teacher at Al Farabi school, in Skhirate-Temara. Ouaghad notes that the revised curriculum promotes “the interdependence and harmony of literacy components like reading, oral ex pression, structures and grammar, seeing them as equally important.” To further support this holistic approach, the Ministry implemented a weekly 30-minute reading enrichment period to build skills and foster a love of reading. Enrichment can in clude reading individually or as a group, playing reading games on the computer and acting out stories with classmates, among other activities. “These students will have clear reading fluency [when they reach higher levels of school]. I hope it will endear them to the Arabic language and encourage them to readmore,” says Ouaghad. Learning to read in a multilingual culture Morocco is a multilingual country where Arabic, the indigenous Amazigh languages and French are spoken widely. Arabic and Amazigh are official languages of instruction and French is taught as a foreign language from the first year of school. This makes for a less straightforward, but linguistically rich, environment to teach

The National Program for Reading helped teachers move from a more rigid curriculum that emphasized quantity to an approach that streamlines content and encourages play.

A young student reads in front of her class. | 17

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