Think Creative Spring 2022

bringing curriculum to life

children to read for the first time. The revised curriculum reconciles this by creating thematic units throughout the year to serve as an anchor regardless of which language is being taught at that point in the day. “For instance, students study a unit about food and health in Arabic, French and science les sons simultaneously during the same period in the school schedule,” says Fathi El-Ashry, Ph.D., the project’s Chief of Party. “This is a response to ‘integration’ being one of the basic principles on which the curriculum is built upon.” Each grade is structured into six six-week units with topics ranging from friendship to the environment. Students complete a cor responding project during each unit to foster engagement in the theme and the literacy skills being applied. Training teachers during a pandemic The curriculum can only reach its full potential when it is in teachers’ hands and being deftly applied in classrooms. Once it was designed, the programbegan preparing trainers and teachers on how they can adopt the new approach. The COVID-19 pandemic created a hurdle in the challenging task of reaching thousands of educators. Fortunately, the programhad al ready planned to integrate digital solutions and was able to expand themwhen the pandemic made in-person trainings impossible. The primary tool the program relied on was massive open online courses, also known as MOOCs. MOOCs offer an online way to provide high-quality, flexible coursework to an unlimit ed number of teachers. It introduces the revised Arabic language curriculum through training videos, class simulations and other useful tools. This format enables teachers to learn the theoretical con cepts and then immediately see how the skill is being taught to students. “As the proverb goes, ‘in every curse there is a blessing’,” says Abdelaziz Abdelhadi, Director of Zouhair Ibn Abi Salma School in El Hajeb. “The COVID-19 pandemic pushed us to intro duce more distance training opportunities.” The MOOCs trained 339 teachers from pilot schools from September 2021 to January 2022. The platform that hosts the MOOCs will even tually be opened nationwide to train thousands of teachers. Beyond serving as a pandemic solution, MOOCs have made it easier for teachers to

avail of professional development. “Remote training is flexible. You can be at home, in a café, or at work and access the plat form to participate in these trainings at your own convenience,” says Mohamed Hosni, Head of Division at the CNIPE e-learning center, an institution in Rabat that collaborated on creating the MOOCs. This flexibility is critical for female teachers, who may have trouble attending in-person trainings due to family responsibilities or their husbands not wanting them to travel alone. Khadija Chahid has been an educator for eight years, but the MOOCs were the first curriculum training she received since graduating from college. “This was my first time teaching grade two, and the Arabic language curriculum completely changed,” says Chahid. “The MOOC helped me learn new concepts to

The program used online training in the form of massive open

online courses (MOOCs) to train teachers on the revised curriculum despite pandemic hurdles.

The National Program for Reading hopes to endear students to reading by making it enjoyable and interactive.

Strong reading skills help students to succeed in other subjects.

18 | Think Creative | Spring 2022

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