Think Creative Spring 2022

Morocco has had a longstanding

struggle with reading performance. Parents, teachers and members of the Ministry of Education have been impressed by the results of the revised curriculum to date.

children are enjoying. “I like the dialogues, the texts, the stories, the help in the textbook and everything in it,” says Youmna Belbakri, a sixth grade student in Temara. She has noticed the way her improved reading has spilled over into other areas of her academic life. “Reading the Arabic language helps me in Islamic education, mathematics, scientific activity, social studies and other things. It helps me a lot,” says Belbakri. In addition to working with publishers on textbooks and teacher guides, the project also forged a partnership between the ministry and the Dubai-based Assafeer Digital Library to develop Morocco’s first digital reading platform dedicated exclusively to elementary school learners. This platform contains 315 illustrated titles that are leveled by grade, edited to include Mo roccan terms and cultural references, as well as storylines and illustrations that promote gender equity and social inclusion principles. It provides elementary school children with free access to these readingmaterials, so they can continue to read and learn outside of the class roomand develop their digital literacy skills. Nour El Houda Eddaoudi, 11, has seen her Arabic-language skills improve over the last few years, and finds the digital library a useful resource. “When I have free time, I read the stories from a smartphone and write them down in a note book I have that is dedicated to stories,” says El Houda Eddaoudi. “After I write it, I read the story to my brother who has autism and explain it to him. I add many new words to my vocabulary this way, and when my teacher asks me something in class, I find myself ready with answers.” While the results of the revised curriculum have been quick to manifest, they are planting seeds for even more impressive growth in the long term. “When students acquire language tools, espe cially reading, they acquire learning tools,” says Director of Curricula Fouad Chafiqi. “The more we have students who are able to learn these, the more we will ensure greater success for students in the future.” n With reporting by Mounya El-Asri and Daniel Lynx Bernard

When students acquire language tools, especially reading, they acquire learning tools. The more we have students who are able to learn these, the more we will ensure greater success for students in the future.” - Fouad Chafiqi, Director of Curricula “

better teach reading. If I had tried to learn this on my own, I wouldn’t have been able to understand as much as I do now.” She found the training engaging and was eager to learn. “When you do the training, you are 100 percent focused and find yourself progressing from unit to unit. Actually, this is what happened to me. I kept going on and on,” says Chahid. This is thanks to thoughtful preparation by the Reading for Success program, the Ministry, the National Center for Educational Innovations and Experimentation (CNIPE) and the Center of Learning Technologies at Al Akhawayn University. These collaborators drew on neuroscience principles—attention, active engagement and anchoring—to create an engaging train

ing for teachers and produce corresponding videos. The team found creative pandemic workarounds to continue producing remotely, including training people on how to record videos at home. Engaging the private sector to create powerful books Another way the curriculum was brought to life in the classroom is by creating new teaching and learning materials. The Reading for Success program worked with local publishers to translate the curriculum into inspiring textbooks. This included training them on elements like page layout and how to make the books useful for teachers and students, like including suf ficient space for students to write. The result has been colorful and engaging textbooks that | 19

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