Developing Curriculum Planning and Teaching Standards in
Nada International School
Kaleem Raja 1
Contents Introduction A Diverse Approach to Teaching and Learning EFL Reading Writing Spellings A Model of Text Deconstruction and Reconstruction Speaking and Listening and Drama Differentiation Final Note
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Introduction The best laid plans are ones that incorporate elements from all extant and previous systems to concoct a greater composite plan of action. A super hybrid, if you will. To this end, we should certainly combine the best ideas from the American curriculum and the British curriculum for teaching English as a curriculum subject and feed this through the individual aims, policies and needs of Nada School and pupils. The path to educational progress should be a clear one but the introduction of it a long term and gradual one so as not to overwhelm any member of staff nor pupil or parent. All of the ideas in this document are based upon my own individual experience of teaching and CPD training in the UK over 12 years across KS1, 2 and with some stints in KS3 and 4 with guidelines from various LEAs, Ofsted and HMI. Some of these may not fit Nada in their purer form and are only here being proposed as possible preliminary ideas and not as infallible prescriptive recommendations. I welcome suggestions for amendments to help me better understand the needs of Nada and its community of staff, pupils, parents and cohort committees.
A Diverse Approach to Teaching and Learning The Language Art curriculum should perhaps aim for a broad panoply on all levels. Texts Language Arts should span a broad range of texts for shared and guided reading and shared and guided writing. This should include a balance of fiction and non-fiction texts that includes a broad range of different genres. Pupils should be able to identify all the conventions for the writing of these texts and taught how to and be given the opportunity to write these texts. Medium The texts should be multi-media where possible and include audio recordings and films and not just print texts. Activities Lesson activities should be diverse. Much more than just the dated method of using text books only, it could include making comic strips, posters, leaflets, booklets, guides and manuals, videos, audio recordings, print, audio and video adverts, animations, using cameras to make story boards, etc. A range of activities makes learning fun and therefore more engaging and prevents the curriculum from becoming staid.
Activity Models For the purpose of catering for the needs of all the individual pupils, activities should not always be limited to the pupil working by him or herself. All possible activity models should be deployed over the course of a lesson and the week. This could include: - Independent work - Paired work - Group work - Whole class work Different Learners Lessons should be taught so that within them they cater for all audio, visual and kinaesthetic learners. Limiting teaching to any one of these will not meet the needs of all the other pupils who learn in other ways. Bloomâ€™s Taxonomy Teaching of Language Arts, as of any curriculum subject, should be a conduit for pupils to go beyond the basic learning skills of fact-learning, recalling and rudimentary comprehension. Pupils need at all times need to be given learning opportunities to explore the higher order thinking skills of analysis, application, creation and evaluation.
EFL The fact that for Nada pupils English is an additional language has significant implications for teaching and learning in the school. Staff could be made aware of the issues regarding the teaching of EFL pupils. Much research has been done into such matters and intervention programmes for the teaching of EFL pupils such as the First Steps initiative, to name but one, have outlined how to best raise attainment of EFL pupils. These recommendations include: 1. Multi-lingualism. Multi-lingual pupils learn best when links are made between the languages they speak and the additional they are learning. A multi-lingual approach should therefore be taken with resources used in lessons activities, reading and library books, display boards and speaking and listening activities. 2. A visual approach to teaching. Posters, graphs, pictures, animations, etc should be deployed as much as possible as visual cues. Text heavy resources should be kept to a minimum. Drama and the arts should be used to deliver the curriculum. 3. Scaffolding. Activities should be aided with writing frames, modelling of tasks by teachers and illustrated texts. 4. Have spelling and vocabulary log books to broaden their banks of sight words, phonics and vocabulary.
Reading The promotion of reading should be paramount. With exposure to greater reading, all the other elements surrounding Language Arts - Spellings - Writing skills - Reading skills - Comprehension - Creativity and imagination - General knowledge and idea banks are all improved. Ergo, reading should take centre stage in the delivery of Language Arts. Pupils should - Have a reading scheme that they are following and have a reading book that they read at home everyday - Take out library books regularly - KG and Grades 1 – 5 read to an adult in school at least once a week. Grades 6 – 12 should be encouraged to do reading and research within and outside of the curriculum. - KG and Grades 1 – 5 do paired reading at home should be done and parents given guidelines about paired reading - Do shared reading in lessons more regularly - KG and Grades 1 – 5 have guided reading at least once a week with follow up activities to enhance their comprehension, vocabulary and spellings 7
Writing Central to any Language Arts scheme of work is writing which acts as a platform to demonstrate the stage in language development that pupils are at. Language Art should therefore allow for a lesson a week where children can apply what they have learnt at the phonic, lexical and syntactic level to produce a piece of writing. These extended writing lessons should cover both fiction (prose and poetry) and non-fiction. Writing should be allowed to develop slowly and opportunities be given for the children to redraft, edit and improve work.
Spelling Working at a phonic and lexical level, spellings are vital to the development of reading and writing. As well as being used to teach vocabulary, spellings should be used to teach: - Affixes - Graphemes and phonemes - Etymology - Inflections - Grammar For effective spelling teaching, it is not enough to administer a list of words. Spellings need to be accompanied with the teaching of spelling skills. Spelling skills should include a knowledge of syllabication, common letter strings, mnemonic strategies, finding words within words, suffixes and prefixes, spelling rules and exceptions, and derivations. In their writing key spelling mistakes should be highlighted and the pupils to rewrite the corrections 5 times. Spelling log books could be deployed for pupils to record their common errors as well being used by them for asking for help from adults with challenging words.
A Model of Text Deconstruction and Construction In order to cover all the higher order thinking skills, all units of work in language art could follow the stages below: 1. Shared reading of text: pupils read a professional example of a given text 2. Analysis: pupils deconstruct the text to learn the conventions of that genre 3. Application: pupils find the identified features of that genre in other examples of it 4. Planning: pupils begin to work towards writing their own text in that genre 5. Creation: pupils write a text in the genre they have been studying 6. Evaluation: pupils compare their created texts with ones they have read and evaluate how well they have emulated the conventions of that genre
Speaking and Listening and Drama Key to fun learning, teaching EFL pupils and utilising a broad range of teaching styles, speaking and listening skills and drama could be incorporated into the teaching of language Arts. Speaking and Listening Skills Pupils, and especially EFL pupils, need opportunities to articulate their ideas, beyond just through their writing. The improvement of speaking and listening skills correlates with the improvement in reading and writing skills. Ergo, lesson activities where possible needs to include speaking and listening activities. Group activities, paired work and Talk Partners, in which pupils are assigned a different talking partner in the class every week, are a good way to provide speaking and listening opportunities. Drama Visual, interactive, kinaesthetic, fun and creative, drama is an excellent way to engage pupils and to help them to access the curriculum in an imaginative and lateral way.
Differentiation All pupils of all ages are invariably at different stages in their learning. As a rule of thumb, in efficacious education, one size does not fit all. Hence planning and teaching should show as much differentiation as possible to cater for the needs of all pupils and not just some of them. Differentiated tasks by activity, and not just outcome, are vital to ensure blind, wholesale teaching is curtailed and bespoke teaching is expected and promoted.
Final Note All of the ideas in this document are based upon my own individual experience of teaching and CPD training in the UK over 12 years across KS1, 2 and with some stints in KS3 and 4 with guidelines from various LEAs, Ofsted and HMI. Some of these may not fit Nada in their purer form and are only here being proposed as possible preliminary ideas and not as infallible prescriptive recommendations. I welcome suggestions for amendments to help me better understand the needs of Nada and its community of staff, pupils, parents and cohort committees.