As is probably clear to readers of this blog, I think reflection is a crucial skill for learning and teaching. I’ve discussed making time and space for reflection as a language teacher, and ethnographic projects as a way to encourage reflection during study abroad. In this post, I’ll discuss reflecting with students, another valuable practice.
In an early post on this blog I talked about making assessments based on what students “can do” with language. This year, as we redo our Intermediate Arabic curriculum, we also decided to have no tests. In some ways, this is just a change in terminology, as we have a week of Can-Do Assessments at the end of each unit, in which we repurpose some of our old test materials. In other ways, it is new, as even the materials we repurpose (such as a description of a celebration for students to read, describe to their partner, and then choose which student’s celebration they will attend) are very different from the traditional language tests I took as an Arabic student, and gave my students in the early days of my career. These usually had a vocabulary section (such as a cloze test), some grammar drills (e.g. fill in the correct verb form), and a skill section (reading or listening plus comprehension questions or a writing prompt).
In my last post, I described Weeks 3, 4, and 5. In this post, I’m back with a recap of Week 6 and some final thoughts on the project. I’ve also placed links to all of the curriculum development posts leading up to this unit at the end of this post if you want to follow the story from the beginning!
In my last post, I reflected upon the second week, and plans for week 3. As I’m posting every other week, the class is going faster than my blog, so this post will cover a week 3 recap, plans for week 4, the week 4 recap, planning week 5, a week 5 recap, and planning week 6. Almost the end of the semester!
In my last post, I talked about planning the overall structure party unit as well as the first week. In this post, I’m back with a recap of week one and planning week two!
As I mentioned in my previous curriculum development posts, this year in our Intermediate Arabic classroom we are moving away from the textbook and designing our own units informed by genre-based approaches to language learning. We are concluding our unit on housing, and starting our unit on planning an end of the year party. This is the unit I’m primarily responsible for developing, so I thought I would blog that process as I do it. In previous posts I’ve discussed background information, choosing assessment tasks, finding texts, and introducing intentional translanguaging pedagogy. In this post I’ll discuss making the unit plan and planning the first week of the party unit. The goal of this unit is to have students develop the skills to plan and carry out a language clubs mixer at the end of the semester.
As I mentioned last week, the current stage of our curriculum development is creating our own curriculum and materials. Given time constraints (a constant in teaching!) we are focusing on doing this only in our second year class in the upcoming academic year, and making only minor modifications to the other classes. With the permission of my colleagues (and yes, they read this blog) I’m going to try to document this process here as we go. يالله بنا!
The more I teach, the more I become interested in the process, and the complex interplays between theories of language, theories of pedagogy, context and practice. When I first started teaching, I would become frustrated when I couldn’t match what I envisioned as the “ideal” theory or practice to the classroom. Yet as I gain more experience, I find these interactions between theory, practice, and context to be the most fascinating, and I think my teaching is the better for it. But, before I get into our current plans, I thought it would be useful to provide some background on the phases our Arabic curriculum has gone through since I’ve been involved with it.