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Challenges of Curriculum
By Salima Moosa Sewani
is indeed a much respected but a challenging profession. The
knowledge and expertise
of a teacher helps him/her to fight back the challenges, but a
positive ‘learning’ attitude is also required. I believe that
we all are in a learning process. Every day we learn something new
by making mistakes.
challenges are taken as problems, then a teacher might not be able to
learn and move ahead. Accepting challenges creates
opportunities for teachers not only to enhance their skills but to look
at the real world more intimately. Teaching is an open field and the
teacher is merely a player. To me, the player needs to be committed. Those
who can’t commit shouldn’t adopt this profession, because teachers
need to be role models, serve as leaders, and have the position akin to
parents. In this way, teachers rear the children they teach, providing
opportunities to students to sharpen their intellect, increasing
awareness about the need to be ethical. This is perhaps the most
challenging task for a teacher. My experience
has taught me to move on by accepting the challenges of this
Here, I will try to focus on the challenges of curriculum and classroom
interaction, which I faced during my 8 years of teaching in religious
and secular schools.
I find the area of curriculum very wide. The challenges for a teacher
regarding the implementation of curriculum in a class is the foremost
debate not only in
, but worldwide. There are several ideas in the mind of Pakistani
bureaucrats regarding planning and implementing the curriculum. But the
question is, is there any proper curriculum prepared by any ministry,
which could fully satisfy the expectations of children and teacher?
curriculum is not planned according to the social needs of the youth.
The challenge for a teacher is to implement the curriculum as forced, in
accordance with the instructions of the authorities. A loyal teacher
would implement the guided curriculum with the integration of his/her
knowledge and study, so that they could prepare the solid leaders for
the future generation. I believe that at the stage of learning,
curriculum should be designed in such a way, which can produce the
required skilled manpower for the future need of our country. In
, the students don’t have opportunities for practical work. After they
complete the secondary school stage, many of them begin to search for a
clerical type of job. Consequently unemployment and frustration becomes
their fate. This is a real challenge for a teacher: to prepare students
according to the needs of the future so that they can get good
opportunities on the basis of their knowledge and skills. A real
challenge of a teacher is to initiate curriculum in such a manner that
it develops the ‘character’ of the individual. It isn’t only a
merit degree which makes a person charismatic. It is the character
building, which is the true missing asset, for which, teachers are
continuously playing their role.
I was teaching at
, I observed children were not taking an
interest in studies because the curriculum, which I taught was totally
theoretical and based on rote learning. I observed that the
children learning were slow and the teachers teaching speed were
expeditious. According to my observation, children think that education
is the heaviest burden on them. After my observation, I took a challenge
to add something fascinating, which can be used as a supporting aid of
teaching the curriculum. I integrated all lesson plans with my co-
teachers, in which our main focus was to attain objectives through
activities. We kept in mind the interest of the students. Gradually, the
students started taking an interest toward learning subjects without
feeling it a burden.
Curriculum is to provide knowledge and skills, which can satisfy
intellect. In order to develop good reading habits, we planned a mini-
library, where donated books were kept.
Students were encouraged to read stories
and informative books. To make reading literature interesting, we also
developed 'pop-up reading skills', in which each student was given
a chance to read a text loud and afterwards throw the 'pop-up' cotton
ball to another classmate, whom s/he wants to read next. This successful
technique not only developed interest, but also activated students in
class room participation.
The second challenge regarding curriculum is to face the inappropriate
content in our text books. Muhammad Ilyas Khan says,
“The whole education process in our primary and secondary school
revolve around the textbooks which mostly are bad written and poorly
presented. They are boring for the students as well as the teachers who
use them. They seldom arouse any interest among students. As a result
the teaching learning process becomes monotonous and lacks any active
involvement of the students.”
agree, because the challenge for a teacher is to implement curriculum
through learning based activities so the students will take the
interest. Students in
feel boredom when the teacher
makes them to open their book and to learn things by heart only. The
only thing which can make them survive intellectually is just a bit of
effort and initiative of a teacher to study and plan lessons
If you will go through the book of general science, most of the topics
which are being added, are irrelevant. I took a little initiative and
wrote a workbook of General Science, keeping in view the National
curriculum objectives. I just made the irrelevant topics precisely,
which helped few of the schools in
to teach students specifically with specialization rather than
generalization. I think that diverse knowledge is good to boost a
The people who design our curriculum are specialists in their subjects
with Masters and Doctorate degrees. But the curriculum must be designed
with specific objectives.
It is the duty of the government to make changes in our
curriculum while asking the teachers, who are the real manifesto
planners, so that the teachers can face this challenge with the role in
it. But nobody is taking immediate action due to which teachers and
students both are facing a lot of hindrance.
suggest that a curriculum should have some ethical values to foster in them
a pride in belonging to the nation, an understanding of its history and
aspirations, and the eagerness to serve it. Curriculum should be such as
to facilitate the full development of the personality of child and there
aims can be achieved if education at this stage is directed towards the
for part 2 in the next issue!
Moosa Sewani has been in the field of teaching for 7 years. She
is running her own Learning Center and also working with the
Exceptional People in Pakistan. She is a Master Trainer and has done many teaching
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are six modules designed to test the basic ability of an
individual in terms of Memory & Concentration. Needless to
say this is the most important basic skill for not just to
survive but also to thrive in this competitive environment.
Each of the six modules tests the six variants of Memory &
Concentration in an individual, namely:
of these modules runs at three different levels, from easy to
At each level, the individual's performance is depicted as
A feedback has been built into the software for all these 18
levels depending on the marks one scores during the
Each individual can assess his/her performance any time by
clicking on "history", which gives complete details
of date and time of taking the tests, marks scored each time
and even time taken to do the test. This builds the confidence
level and encourages more participation to eventually
culminate in improvement and enhancement of memory and
Essentially, this software is a SELF AWARENESS tool that
surely motivates the individual to realize one's capability
and seek or be receptive for improvement. Also, if repeatedly
done over a period of time works as Training tool to enhance
software package is specifically designed to help young
children to learn basic skills that will help them in
school. Continued follow-up will give these young
learners success as they mature.
Three versions of the software exist:
Individual Software on either CD or Online, Family
Version Software, and an Institutional Software package.
StarTeaching wholeheartedly supports
and endorses this software. It will make a difference
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This is the Answer!
By Mark Benn
Middle School Teacher
articles deal with the change to 21st Century Learning.
you read all the articles and blogs, view the videos, and sort through
what everybody is saying about the change so badly needed in education,
you find this concept has so many parts it's hard to nail it all down.
But then I read the article called "30 Strategies for Education
Reform" by Prakash Nair located at http://fieldingnair.com/edreformnair1.pdf.
Prakash is not an educationalist. He's an architect who's part of
a global award winning company that designs and builds schools. As he
worked on schools, he realized that he needed to focus on how students
learn in coming up with how to build a school building. As he looked at
all the research, he brought together these 30 strategies for today's
begins this online guidebook with this thought and I quote: "In
education, there is widespread support for the idea that every student
is important and yet, in practice, systems are set up to favor a few at
the expense of the many." After giving supports for why reform is
needed, he gives individual guidance for superintendents and board
members, principals, parents, teachers, and students on how to use the
guidebook. He then lists the 30 strategies while linking them to three
categories (pedagogy, organization, and non-academic). After that he
gives an overview of each of the strategies. He concludes the guidebook
with a survey to get you to put into action what you have just read.
highly recommend this as a great read. It brings together what everyone
is saying and puts wheels on how to get going with 21st century learning
and being a world class classroom and school.
Mark Benn earned his B.S. from Western
Michigan University and his Elementary Certification from
Northern Michigan University. He is a 21 year teaching
veteran of 5th and 6th grade students at Inland Lakes Middle
School in Indian River, MI. He is currently working on
Masters of Integration of Technology from Walden University.
Prior to teaching, Mark spent 11 years as Department Manager for
Sears, Roebuck and Co. dealing with emerging technologies.
He has been married to his wife Bonnietta for 33 years with one
daughter and two sons. In the summers, Mark works for
Mackinac State Historic Parks in the as a historical
|StarTeaching Featured Writer
|Mark Benn is a leading expert in using technology
in the classroom.
You can feel free to contact him on email
or at his blogsite: http://www.furtrader.blogspot.com/
A Brief History
of Educational Reform (part 2)
The basic program was to develop "grammar"
schools. These taught only grammar and bookkeeping. This program permits
people to start businesses to make money, and gives them the skills to
continue their education inexpensively from books. "Grammar"
was the first third of the then-prevalent system of Classical education.
The ultimate development of the grammar school was by
Joseph Lancaster, who started as an impoverished Quaker in early 19th
century London. Lancaster used slightly more-advanced students to teach
less-advanced students, achieving student-teacher ratios as small as 2,
while educating more than a thousand students per adult. Lancaster
promoted his system in a piece called Improvements in Education that
spread widely throughout the English-speaking world.
Discipline and labor in a Lancaster school were provided
by an economic system. Scrip, a form of money meaningless outside the
school, was created at a fixed exchange rate from a student's tuition.
Every job of the school was bid-for by students in scrip. The highest
bid won. The jobs permitted students to collect scrip from other
students for services rendered. However, any student tutor could auction
positions in his or her classes. Besides tutoring, students could use
scrip to buy food, school supplies, books, and childish luxuries in a
school store. The adult supervisors were paid from the bids on jobs.
With fully-developed internal economies, Lancaster
schools provided a grammar-school education for a cost per student near
$40 per year in 1999 U.S. dollars. The students were very clever at
reducing their costs, and once invented, improvements were widely
adopted in a school. For example, Lancaster students, motivated to save
scrip, ultimately rented individual pages of textbooks from the school
library, and read them in groups around music stands to reduce textbook
costs. Exchanges of tutoring, and using receipts from "down
tutoring" to pay for "up tutoring" were commonplace.
Established educational elites found Lancaster schools
so threatening that most English-speaking countries developed mandatory
publicly-paid education explicitly to keep public education in
"responsible" hands. These elites said that Lancaster schools
might become dishonest, provide poor education and were not accountable
to established authorities. Lancaster's supporters responded that any
schoolchild could avoid cheats, given the opportunity, and that the
government was not paying for the educations, and thus deserved no say
in their composition.
Lancaster, though motivated by charity, claimed in his
pamphlets to be surprised to find that he lived well on the income of
his school, even while the low costs made it available to the poorest
street-children. Ironically, Lancaster lived on the charity of friends
in his later life.
Part 3 of this article will detail the Educational Reforms of the
Novels by Frank Holes, Jr.
Part mystery, part science fiction, Year
of the Dogman is an imaginative, compelling, and adrenaline-pumping
adventure. Author Frank Holes, Jr. takes no prisoners in creating a
diabolical creature that leaves the forest to prey on the hapless hamlet
. When night falls, the nocturnal beast, Dogman, scares the living
daylights out of anyone he happens upon as he searches for a timeless
treasure stolen from a Native American tribe. In the midst of the chaos, a
young teacher is forced to put two and two together no matter how high the
cost to rid the village of the treacherous man-beast who thrives on
destruction and terror.
In The Haunting of Sigma,
Frank Holes, Jr. returns fans of the legendary Dogman to the wild world
of cryptozoology in
. This darker, far more
sinister prequel to Holes’s first novel fully establishes his hold
upon the imaginations of readers all over the
. June 1987 ushers in the
hot, dry summer season, but something else far more horrifying has taken
up residence in the deep wilderness in
. The Dogman, a supernatural
combination of canine and man, has returned to wreck havoc upon the
tiny, sleepy community of Sigma.
Based upon the
epic Greek tale of The Odyssey, yet set in the American Wild West, The Longquist Adventures: Western Odyssey chronicles the journey of a young boy and his guide through a perilous
world of dangerous encounters and fantastic creatures.
It is a world of gun fights at high noon, stampedes on the great
plains, stagecoach robbery, and an ultimate showdown with a ruthless,
powerful gangster aboard a turn-of-the-century paddlewheel in the San
Francisco Bay. Can the
time-traveling boy and the law-abiding Marshal restore order to the
chaos of the American West gone truly wild?
of the Dogman Website
Here For The
of Sigma Website
Here For The
The Dogman, a creature of
MythMichigan, is an excellent example of modern-day folklore to
study in your classes.
The Longquist Adventures, written for
elementary students, is excellent for teaching mythology and
classic stories to young children.
Western Odyssey, the first novel
in the series, is now available!
We now have special offers on Classroom Sets of our Novel.
Click here for more information:
A CLASS SET
A Place for New Teachers, Student Teachers, and Interns
The basics of writing paragraphs are
important for students in any class.
Writing paragraphs in our school's program means following a specific
rubric. We teach the students to use the same format and steps. We
follow the five-step writing process, focusing on brainstorming,
drafting, and revision. Paragraph writing for us means drafting, which
will be full of mistakes and correctible areas (which we can edit later
on). When first introduced, students will be practicing writing
paragraphs every day until they master the format we use. Then we
will shift focus from format to working closely on organization, then to
content, and finally to writing conventions.
The first step is brainstorming. We require a specific number of
'triggers' for each topic. Students generally choose between making a
web or a list to visually show their brainstorming. For example, our 7th
graders must include eight triggers, while seniors must have at least
fifteen. You and your school will decide what is appropriate. Then all
triggers are ORGANIZED by order of importance, chronological order, etc.
Students are asked to number the triggers 1-8. Of course, students are
always encouraged to write down more triggers (sometimes we even offer
extra credit for more triggers!). We also encourage students to
freewrite as brainstorming. Students look over their prewriting and
start using their organized triggers to form the ideas presented in the
Students then create a topic sentence (T.S.). This is an introductory
sentence which captures the reader's attention and gives the reader an
idea of what the paragraph is about. We require students to restate the
topic in the T. S. This begins to create flow (the connectedness of
ideas and transitions) by using several key words in the topic.
At least three body sentences follow (we require six in the 7th grade).
These will include details and examples, as well as data in the form of
facts or statistics. Make sure these all support the topic sentence. The
body sentences also will include a personal life experience (PLE) which
connects the topic to the writer's life or to a real-life situation (7th
graders must have two sentences for each PLE). We've found, in
particular, that papers with a well developed PLE scored much higher on
the MEAP than those without a PLE. The body sentences must connect to
the topic sentences, and be sure their details flow in a logical manner.
Finally, wrap up the paragraph with a CLINCHER STATEMENT. This again
restates the topic, brings closure to the paragraph, and summarizes the
ideas presented. The clincher should leave the reader satisfied that
he/she understands what was presented in the paragraph. It may also
leave the reader wanting more, and provide a means to find more
information. The clincher may also be a transition to another paragraph
Always have your students write a title for the paragraph. This is
really an advanced skill, requiring students to think about what they
really wrote and condense down the ideas into a short phrase that must
also catch the reader's attention. It's a great skill to practice each
time they write.
COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: How long is a typical paragraph required for class?
A: This is always hotly debated among teachers. We have set limits at
each grade level, based on what our MEAP requires and a progression up
the grades. These minimums ensure our students are forced to include
examples and details to enhance the paragraph's supports. Our 5th
graders must write at least 40 words in each paragraph (as always, they
can always write more). In the 6th grade, 80 words are required. At 7th
grade, students must write 100 words, and at 8th grade it is 125 words.
There are also sentence requirements. A 5th grade paragraph must have at
least 5 sentences (topic sentence, body/support sentences, and a
clincher). 6th graders must have 6 sentences, while 7th and 8th graders
must include at least 8 sentences
Q: How much time do we give students to write out a paragraph?
A: The paragraph structure was developed in response to the demands of
the MEAP test (Michigan's high stakes test) as well as to our own
school's curriculum and class needs. We wanted a structure that could be
easily learned and remembered (by both students and staff). It had to be
versatile enough (and adaptable) to use at any grade level or course.
And it needed to allow for students to make it their own – we believe
it promotes students' creativity, writing style, and voice while giving
them a structure that nearly guarantees success. Thus, it had to be
written in a fairly short span of time to allow for students to proof
and edit. Brainstorming & organizing should take no more than five
minutes (most of our students can do it in under a minute with
practice!). The whole paragraph can be written in fifteen minutes or
less (again with practice). We NEVER let these go home, and they're
always due in class. Students cannot take their MEAP tests home to
finish, remember! Time frames start out longer at first, but then we
shorten the time as they become more proficient.
Q: How much do you worry about mistakes in spelling, grammar, mechanics,
A: Remember, this is drafting. We always encourage the students to be
careful about what they write. However, we want them focusing on the
structure and the logical flow of ideas. Corrections can be made if/when
we revise and proof for a final copy.
Q: Doe the PLE have to come at the end of the paragraph?
A: Certainly not! It should be inserted where it makes the most sense in
the paragraph. Think about how that story will fit in the flow of ideas
in the paragraph. PLEs can even occur in the beginning of the paragraph;
we call these LEADS.
Q: Can a topic sentence or clincher be more than one sentence in length?
A: We try to keep these at one sentence in our younger grades, but as
students become more mature writers, it is expected that they will
attempt and experiment with developing their own personal style. If a
middle school student asked about this, I'd ask back, "Why do you
need more than one sentence?" If there is a compelling reason, I
wouldn't have a problem.
Interested in FREE writing activities you can print out and use
immediately in your classroom? Simply click the following link to our
writing page: http://www.starteaching.com/writing.htm
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plan and other great Freebies for new teachers. Simply click the
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Be sure to check out our website for more great
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student-teachers, and interns in teacher prep programs. Also be
sure to check out our Who-I-Want-To-Be teacher plan for
preparing yourself to enter the educational profession. Simply
click the following link: http://www.starteaching.com/free.htm
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"Words of Great Wisdom"
The Native American Code of
Great thoughts to live by...
1. Rise with the sun to pray. Pray alone. Pray often. The Great
Spirit will listen, if you only speak.
2. Be tolerant of those who are lost on their path. Ignorance,
conceit, anger, jealousy and greed stem from a lost soul. Pray
that they will find guidance.
3. Search for yourself, by yourself. Do not allow others to make
your path for you. It is your road, and yours alone. Others may
walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.
4. Treat the guests in your home with much consideration. Serve
them the best food, give them the best bed and treat them with
respect and honor.
5. Do not take what is not yours whether from a person, a
community, the wilderness or from a culture. If it was not earned
or given, it is not yours.
6. Respect all things that are placed upon this earth - whether it
be people or plant.
7. Honor other people's thoughts, wishes and words. Never
interrupt another or mock or rudely mimic them. Allow each person
the right to personal expression.
8. Never speak of others in a bad way. The negative energy that
you put out into the universe will multiply when it returns to
9. All persons make mistakes. And all mistakes can be forgiven.
10. Bad thoughts cause illness of the mind, body and spirit.
11. Nature is not FOR us, it is a PART of us. They are part of
your worldly family.
12. Children are the seeds of our future. Plant love in their
hearts and water them with wisdom and life's lessons. When they
are grown, give them space to grow.
13. Avoid hurting the hearts of others. The poison of your pain
will return to you.
14. Be truthful at all times. Honesty is the test of ones will
within this universe.
15. Keep yourself balanced. Your Mental self, Spiritual self,
Emotional self, and Physical self - all need to be strong, pure
and healthy. Work out the body to strengthen the mind. Grow rich
in spirit to cure emotional ails.
16. Make conscious decisions as to who you will be and how you
will react. Be responsible for your own actions.
17. Respect the privacy and personal space of others. Do not touch
the personal property of others - especially sacred and religious
objects. This is forbidden.
18. Be true to yourself first. You cannot nurture and help others
if you cannot nurture and help yourself first.
19. Respect others religious beliefs. Do not force your belief on
20. Share your good fortune with others. Participate in charity.
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