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					School Curriculum:
Standards vs. Textbooks




    Anita Straker
    CfBT
    What is a ‘curriculum’?


       Curriculum standards are the academic goals for
        what students should learn in each grade
       The curriculum is the whole teaching programme –
        the teaching that teachers do, student activities in
        lessons, in homework time, in after-school clubs, ...
       The curriculum is not a set of textbooks –
        textbooks are just one of the many resources that
        can support the curriculum




                                          Slide 2
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    A ‘standards based’ system


       Most countries provide standards stating what
        students should be taught in each core subjects
       The standards:
           provide a programme of study for each grade
           describe what students should achieve by the end of
            each grade
       There is usually a statement of the teaching time
        needed




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    A ‘standards based’ system


       Some countries provide national textbooks which
        teachers must use to teach the standards –
        sometimes teachers are told what pages to teach
        each day
       Some countries provide a scheme of work, advice for
        teachers on how to teach topics, and ideas for
        activities and exercises for students – teachers
        decide what to teach each day, according to their
        students’ needs
       Other countries provide neither – they leave it to
        teachers to plan a scheme to teach the standards


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    The Qatar standards


       The standards bring new responsibilities and
        freedoms for schools
       They provide a framework for teaching and learning
        but not a curriculum




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    Responsibilities and freedoms


       Schools devise their own curriculum by translating the
        standards into teaching programmes and lesson plans
       Schools can group and sequence standards for each
        grade according to students’ needs, but teachers can
        refer to the Qatar schemes of work if they wish

       Schools decide on the teaching time needed and how
        long lessons need to be

       Schools choose their own learning resources,
        including textbooks, from the best in the world



                                          Slide 6
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      Implications

    Some responsibilities for school operators and senior staff are:
        to monitor teachers’ plans to make sure that the standards are
         addressed
        to allocate funding for a good range of learning resources

        to help teachers to learn about new teaching methods, active
         learning, assessment strategies and resources

        to explain to parents that students will use a range of
         resources
        to ensure that results of national tests are used to adjust the
         teaching programme



                                                  Slide 7
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    Teachers will need help with:

       planning and teaching sequences of lessons based on the
        Qatar standards and scheme of work
       providing variety in each unit of work
       using a range of books and learning resources rather than
        following one textbook day after day
       making their own resources – not using books every day
       getting students to use exercise books, not workbooks, so
        that they learn to write well
       using everyday materials and local resources in science
       using ICT to support teaching and learning

                                            Slide 8
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    Parents need to understand:

       that students will use a range of resources, e.g.
           a variety of books for reference, study and practice

           software

           Internet sites

           local resources

           resources that teachers have made
       that ready-made workbooks with gaps to fill in do not teach
        students to write creatively, to solve problems and think
        critically



                                              Slide 9
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     What can good textbooks provide?


     Used selectively, the best textbooks can provide:
        reference and further support for the teacher, including
         ideas to incorporate into lesson plans
        material for students to read and research and use in
         private study
        activities and exercises for students to do in class and at
         home
        consolidation tasks and exercises for students who need
         extra support




                                              Slide 10
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     What do textbooks not provide?

    Textbooks will not match the standards in entirety. They may:
        not cover all the standards, or cover the
         standards but not thoroughly enough
        follow topics for too long, or in an inappropriate
         sequence
        not cover critical thinking, real problem solving
         and active learning
        not help students to write well and creatively, because students are
         expected to write directly in workbooks
        not be at a suitable level for students’ reading skills
        be inappropriate for the Qatari culture

    Schools will always need to supplement with other resources

                                                   Slide 11
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     Choosing resources

     Match to the standards
        Is the content well-matched to the standards?
            Are all the key standards covered?
            Does the progression match the progression in the
             standards?
            Is the stress on active learning and problem solving?
            Is there variety in each unit of work?
            Are there ICT activities in keeping with the standards?

        Are the contexts suitable for use in Qatar?


                                                  Slide 12
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      Choosing resources

     Support for the teacher
        Are there teachers’ books to supplement textbooks?
        Are there sections on:
            how to teach each topic
            how provide active learning experiences for students
            how to organise the class
            how to provide for students who are gifted or those who
             struggle to keep up?

        Are there references to other resources, including other
         books, software and Internet sites?


                                                Slide 13
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     Choosing resources


     Support for the student
        Will students understand and be able to read the books?
         Is the typeface user-friendly? Is the text straightforward?
        Will they find the books stimulating? Is there a good
         range of interesting activities and exercises?
        Will they be able to use the book for personal study?
        Are homework tasks suggested?
        Are there self-assessment tasks to help students to
         know how they are progressing?


                                             Slide 14
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     To summarise

        The best teaching stems from plans specifically designed to
         teach the Qatari standards
        Good teaching is not following one textbook day after day,
         and students writing directly in workbooks
        A good range of teaching and learning resources are
         needed to support a standards-based curriculum
        All resources need to be chosen with care and used
         selectively to ensure the best match possible with the
         standards and students’ needs and abilities
        Teachers need support and training to help them to be less
         reliant on a single textbook scheme


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