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!
Week 6 Recap
There were only two days in this week before review/finals, and overall they went well. On Monday, students’ assignments was to describe what they did at the party, and then in class they read each other’s descriptions and asked questions while my co-teacher worked on correcting their drafts. On Tuesday, their homework was to reflect upon their party planning experience with my favorite set of reflection questions (What did you accomplish? How can you magnify this? What can be improved next year? How?). They then discussed their answers in their committees, before I led them in a full class discussion. This took much longer than I anticipated (the entire 75 minute class!) but was a fruitful discussion, as students realized that despite their frustrations, they did pull off the party, and they also had some excellent ideas about how to improve the planning experience next time, or at least feel less frustrated with the combination of bureaucracy and many moving parts (truly a valuable life skill!). They also noted that when they felt frustrated, they were less likely to use Arabic as they didn’t have the words to express themselves—another reason I think it’s important to incorporate social and emotional language into the language classroom.
In week 7, my co-teachers and I had our end of semester reflection meeting, and our thoughts were similar to the students in terms of the overall success (we had a party!) and the improvements (wow that was more stressful than we thought for planning, bureaucratic, and communication reasons!). Many of the students seemed invested in the party, and far more attended than has happened with other events. It was also a fun way to end the semester. We also made specific plans for improvement (focusing on breaking tasks into their component parts, written agreements of what the class and Arabic club will take care of) that we noted in our shared google drive*.
So, that concludes our curriculum development for this semester, where we used genre-based approaches to language learning and Can-Do Statements to ditch the textbook to learn about renting apartments and plan a party. If you’d like to follow this series from the beginning, here are links to all of the posts:
Part 8: Week 6 Recap and Final Thoughts (this post!)
*This practice bore amazing fruit toward the end of our reflection meeting, when we needed to choose topics for the Spring fourth semester class—and lo and behold when we looked in the curriculum development folder, we had already done this at the end of the Spring semester when the class was fresh in our minds! Neither I nor my co-teacher had any memory of this, but there they were and it was just a matter of going from our four suggestions to three actual topics (five weeks per topic seemed to be a good fit in the Fall). So yes, planning and reflecting takes time, but it also saves a lot of time!